Anyone who is selling something wants to make money, and in some cases will resort to fraudulent tactics in order to sell higher priced items or services to consumers. Bait and switch schemes occur when a product or service is advertised at one price, but then when a consumer tries to purchase it, it is not available or is only available at a higher price.
A true bait and switch scheme as defined by the law involves an advertised deal that the seller never intended to follow through with. This is important to remember, as it is not illegal for a seller to try to upsell you on a more expensive product as long as the original deal is actually available for consumers to purchase.
For example, if you visit a car dealership because you are interested in a car that was advertised at a great price, but then when you get there the salesman talks you into purchasing a different model, that's not a bait and switch.
However, if the advertised car is not actually available when you get there and the advertisement did not specify that they had limited quantities, that would likely qualify as a bait and switch.
Don't Fall for Bait and Switch Scams
It can be difficult to tell right away if something is a bait and switch scheme. However, there are certain steps you can take to make it less likely that you'll fall for one. These include:
- Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true - they often are
- Check the fine print for qualifications or limited quantities
- If the seller tries to upsell you when you inquire about a deal, hold firm
- If a product is out of stock, ask for a rain check for when it is restocked
Often, seemingly great deals will come with qualifications hidden in the fine print. This may be something like a car dealership offering 0% financing with no money down, but only for people with perfect credit. If your credit is merely good, you may be required to put money down in order to qualify, and if your credit is poor, you may not qualify at all for the 0% rate.
In addition, sellers may try to talk you into a more expensive or lower quality product after you discover that the original product is not available any longer. Even if the original product is available, they may try to tell you that it's not a good product and that you shouldn't buy it. Excessive pressure to buy a different item may be considered bait and switch.
Schedule a Bait and Switch Consultation Today
If you think that you may have been the victim of a bait and switch scheme, don't hesitate to contact the experienced consumer lawyers at Markoff Leinberger by calling 877-905-5161. We will evaluate your case for free and advise you on what steps you should take.
We serve clients in Chicago, Illinois and nationwide.