Is that ad really a bait and switch?

Nov 14 2018      On Behalf of  David M. Duree & Associates, P.C.      Civil Rights And Consumer Protection

A bait and switch is essentially when a company advertises one product to get you into the store but then tries to sell you another product at a higher price. However, simply trying to convince you to buy something that costs more money is not a bait and switch. You must have no other choice.

For instance, a company puts out an ad for a laptop computer that costs $500. You have been looking for a relatively cheap computer, so you’re excited to see it. You go to the store, and they don’t have any computers that cost $500. The cheapest one is $1,000, and it’s a different brand. The company is illegally using the dishonest ad to lure people into the store, in hopes of then selling them more expensive items than they wanted to buy.

Again, though, just talking you into a more expensive product is not a bait and switch. If the $500 computer is sitting there and a salesperson explains why the $1,000 computer would better fit your needs, that’s legal. You still have the option to go with the cheaper computer if you want.

It’s also important to look at the small print on the ad. Sometimes, the bait and switch happens when the company claims they “just ran out” of the item being advertised. That feels like a scam to you, as the consumer, and it may be. However, if the small print says that they have limited quantities, then it’s legal. If there is no small print, implying that they have a limitless supply and can order more at the same price, but then they run out and refuse to put in the order, that’s illegal.

Do you think that you have been scammed? Consumers have rights in the United States, and it’s very important to know exactly what they are.