A company offers a fantastic deal to draw customers to the business, but when you contact the business you find that the deal is not available. The company then tries to convince you to buy something else. This is called bait and switch and is a very common ploy.
Bait-and-switch scams are commonly found in newspapers and are also common on Craigslist. A bait-and-switch does not typically involve selling phony or non-functional products; the overpriced products and services work as advertised. Some customers may not even realize that they were victims of a bait-and-switch scam.
Laws Regarding Bait-and-Switch
- You can complain to the advertising authority and you can sue for false advertising.
- Manufacturers or distributors of the product or service used as bait can also sue the seller for trademark infringement, on the grounds that the seller uses trademarked images of the product or service in their advertisements with no intention to sell them.
However, sellers have not committed a crime if they try to push customers towards another product, as long as the original deal is available. Sellers are not liable if they mention in their advertisements that the products have limited availability, so customers should always read the fine print.
Warning signs of Bait-and-Switch Scams include: offer is too good to be true, the fine print is misleading or confused, there is no information about the company and its registered office, there seems to be no stock of products still being advertised, sales people appear and try to convince you to buy other products instead of the one you selected.
Beware the bait and switch.
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