Bait and switch is a cute term that refers to a nasty con game. If you’re the victim of a bait and switch scam you’ve purchased one item only to be given something that doesn’t match the description of what you purchased. Bait and switch typically involve businesses who use the tactic to lure customers in by advertising a great product at a fantastic price only to provide something that’s quite different.
Identifying That you Were a Victim of Bait and Switch
The FTC has done an excellent job of creating guidelines that clarify when a “bait and switch” situation has happened.
According to the FTC, you weren’t a victim of a bait and switch con if you:
- Were convinced to buy something different
- If the seller simply runs out of whatever item they were promoting, especially when the business clearly stated that they only had limited quantities of the promoted item
- The only way you are a true victim of bait and switch is when the seller clearly had no intention of selling the promoted product.
Bait and switch occurs when:
- The seller had no intention of parting with the promoted item
- They fail to be honest about warranties, availability, repairs, description, etc.
- They do something that actively discourages their sales team from selling the promoted item
- Simply refuses to sell the bait
- Fails to honor the terms of the promotion (such as failing to ship the item in a reasonable amount of time causing you to cancel the item or replace it with something else)
Is Bait and Switch Illegal
Bait and switch isn’t just an immoral marketing tactic, it’s illegal. If you have recently found yourself caught in the middle of a bait and switch scam, there are steps you can take to resolve the situation. The first thing you need to do is contact the FTC and file a formal complaint. This alerts them to the situation and triggers an investigation.
While you’re waiting for the FTC to respond to your complaint, find an experienced lawyer who will not only help you understand all the legal terms but who will also do everything in their power to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. If your lawyer decides you have a strong case, they’ll likely encourage you to file a lawsuit and seek out damages.
What you shouldn’t do, is share your experience on social media or leave scathing reviews on the business website. Saying the wrong thing not only could cost you your bait and switch case, but it could also cause the business to file a slander lawsuit against you. It’s in your best interest to stay quiet until the case has been resolved.