What is a bait-and-switch?

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2023 | Auto Dealer Fraud

A bait and switch is a type of consumer scam. It is usually illegal, but it does still happen.

Essentially, it occurs when a business advertises that they have a certain product at a certain price. When the customer gets to the store to buy that product, however, they find out that the business is actually selling a different product for a higher price. These products will be similar, but the business is using misleading advertisements to get people in the doors, hoping they can then upsell them.

Blaming scarcity

Often, businesses that are caught doing this will just claim that the advertisement was real, but they didn’t have enough of the product. It’s simply too scarce, they sold the ones that they had, but they weren’t trying to defraud anyone.

But is that actually true? For instance, what if an auto dealership isn’t making enough sales and the only models they have on the lot or more expensive trims? People aren’t coming to look at them because they believe they’re too expensive. The dealership then runs an ad for a less expensive vehicle made by the same company, despite not actually having one on the lot at the time. They try to upsell people who come to look for that deal, trying to get them into the high-end cars.

Similarly, they could advertise one low-cost car, knowing that it will sell immediately but that consumers will still continue seeing that ad.

Once again, this type of manipulation is often illegal because it deceives consumers. If something like this has happened to you, you need to know what legal options you have.