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Bait and Switch

Bait-and-switch is a form of fraud, most commonly used in retail sales but also applicable to other contexts. First, customers are "baited" by advertising for a product or service at a low price; second, the customers discover that the advertised good is not available and are "switched" to a costlier product.

If a local car dealer (state of PA) advertised a vehicle for $16,999 when it should have been $26,999, do they have to honor the advertised $16,999 price, is there a Federal Trade Commission site for a statute or law that states they must honor this price?

The Pennsylvania's Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL) cover such issues as bait and switch situations. If it was misstated purposely, then there would be a violation of the UTPCPL. On the other hand if it was truly a mistake by the car dealer, it would not violate UTPCPL.

If someone was offered and booked a specific resort accommodation, but once at the resort the accommodation was not what was promised is this considered a bait and switch?

If a person contracted for X and got Y they have the right to claim for breach of contract. A person can sue or begin with a complaint to the BBB and dept of consumer affairs.

If a computer was listed in the paper for a specific price, but the store refused to sell it stating the ad was a mistake, can the store legally do this?

The computer ad can be viewed as a bait and switch form of advertising, and is regulated by the FTC. The FDC should be contacted stating that the advertisement was false, and a form of bait and switch case in which the merchant can be held liable for false advertisement. If the customer cannot come to an agreement with the merchant, then a complaint should be filed against the merchant with the FTC.

I had paid for a promotion for a stay at a Las Vegas resort. I had received a confirmation number for the dates I had picked. Sometime later the resort switched my stay to a different resort off the strip. The reason was they sold their remaining interest in the resort I had booked. But yet on their website they are rooms available and they still opportunity to buy a timeshare. Can they switch resorts if I already paid for it and had a reservation?

The contract agreement with the resort should be read and reviewed, but if there is nothing in the contract allowing them discretion to change resorts then they will claim they have the right. However the customer has the right to demand a refund for them breaching the contract or at least for them committing false advertising on their site and pulling what seems to be a bait and switch. If they will not return funds for the resort, then a complaint needs to be filed with the attorney general’s office for unfair and deceptive practices and bait and switch and false advertising. If the attorney general cannot resolve the matter then the person will have grounds to sue them on.

Having the right information about bait and switch rules can help individuals deal with difficult situations and make the right decisions. Ask Experts about the bait and switch rules and other related topics.
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Recent Bait and Switch Questions

  • In March 2013 purchased carpet from a major big box store and

    In March 2013 purchased carpet from a major big box store and they installed it. Within a day I contacted them regarding the fact that the carpet installed did not have the qualities (trackless) that the salesman said it did (bait and switch?). They came out and inspected it, had the carpet mill send out their analyst and subsequently determined the carpet performed to spec and that that was just the way it was. There was a mention of some shading in the report so the store manager had another analyst come out, claiming the carpet dye was not consistent (trying to get the mill to eat it the cost so they differently felt that they owned us something by concocting this scheme to get the mill to cover the cost. They even suggested that they needed to wait until the current run of carpet from that batch had run out (about a month) to make the claiming back to the mill so they couldn't color match the area they were claiming). The new analyst inspected it and declared it within spec and the store decided at that point that there would be no dispensation for the sales error. I recontacted the store to try and resolve the issue amicably but they did not respond so I disputed the charges with Amex and the stores branded credit card (Mastercard by Citi Bank). After a couple of month back and forth Amex sided with the store due to technicalities that satisfied their agreement with Amex for the charges and we were charge several thousand dollars. The store never responded to the Citi dispute ($5K), even though their opportunity to was extended 96 days at one point by the bank. In late Oct 2013 their extension expired and the full amount originally charged on the card was charged back to the store. I subsequently CLOSED the account and was advised once closed I could not re-open the account. It was my understanding that my card account was no longer open, active or usable based on their letter and not being able to access it online any more. In April 2015 I was notified that my account had actually been re-opened by Citi and the charge reversed based on a response finally from the store. The citi rep said the store actually had 270 days by law to respond to the chargeback (this is after they failed to respond to multiple attempts to get a response in the first place before the chargeback to them) and that since they finally responded the card had been reopened and the charges reversed back to me.

    I find this process one sided at best but wondering if this is even actaully legal...to close an account (that had zeroed out) then months later re-open it to reverse charges that the bank had originally said were the responsibility of the store. The bank says the store has a legal right to re-establish the disputed charges that had been charged back through a response. I claim they had had their opportunity, got and extension on it, failed to respond in a timely manner and the bank had charged them back as a result and I had subsequently closed the credit card account. Do i have any legal standing or do I just need to sue them in small claims court.
  • I recently have gotten addicted to a online card game that

    I recently have gotten addicted to a online card game that is very expensive. Recently the company released a pack of cards and said you have a chance to get a certain card in the pack. For the first 6 hours the pack came out a lot of people were getting this card. People were posting on the message boards saying the got 4 cards in 8 packs and etc. I personally saw a friend get 4 cards in 24 packs. I tried to buy the card 2 hours later and I bought 38 packs and got 0 cards. This cost $500 and I did not get even one card out of it (and you need 4 of the cards for it to be really useful in the game).

    The statistics on this clearly point to the drop rate of the card being lowered by big margin. With my friend getting 4/24, if the drop rate remained the same, the chances of me getting 0/38 would be .09% (So less than 1 in 1000).

    My question to you all is this illegal and can I sue for this if they wont give me my money back? This seems an awful lot like bait and switch to me. Tons of people posting they got the cards and then boom the drop rate gets lowered and people spend tons of money for nothing. Also, if there are ground for a lawsuit can I sue in my home state? The company is located in another state, but they have a lot of customers in my state and the company's parent company has operations in my state.

    Thanks
  • Im a part time travel agent working from home.

    I'm a part time travel agent working from home. I came across a customer during a recent visit to the local Hospital. This customer overheard a conversation I was having with another nurse at the time about promotions one of my cruise lines were offering. Upon leaving the office she had stopped me and started asking questions about the promo's. She claimed she already had a reservation pending with Priceline for a cruise on the NCL Epic but had until midnight to finalize it. She's was hesitant in doing so because her and her husband wanted to fly down a few day's earlier so he could visit with some military friends in Miami and she couldn't get the airfare she was looking for. She asked if I could help her find airfare. I agreed and started looking when I got home. At 7:30 I called the customer to go over the flight details and to possibly book them. However she asked if she could call me back later for her and her husband haven't discussed this yet and she was baby sitting there grand daughter. She was to call back around 9 PM. Come 9:45 PM I had yet to hear from her so I called them. She still claimed she had yet to discuss this with her husband and began doing so while I was holding on the phone. After about 15 minutes she agreed to purchase the airline tickets. Then she asked if I could honor the Priceline quote. I said I could. She asked about an $100.00 On Board Credit that Priceline was offering them and if she would still get that along with another promo (Freesome) that NCL was running. My response was if they were in the guidelines of the promotions running she would get them. She repeated this several times and I responded with the same answers each time. After several minutes she decided to book her cruise with me. I took all their personal information along with Credit Card info. Started plugging the information into NCL's booking program when I hit a snag and the program wouldn't except the booking. So I called NCL this was at 10:30 PM. At that time I informed the customer I was on hold and the wait time was extensive do to all the promo's NCL was running so we hung up. Come 11 PM I was still on hold so. I decided to switch websites and book their airfare. When I brought the information up the fare had increased by $20.00 pp. Being so late I didn't want to call and disturb the customer. I also was going by what she had told me about her husband wanting to hook up with his military buddies before anymore of them passed on. So thinking I was doing what was best for my customer I went and booked their flights. I was still on hold with NCL. Come 11:30 NCL finally picked up I told them the problem I was having with their booking program. The CRS tried to book and failed several times as I did. Not understanding why she called her supervisor this resulted in another 15 Minute wait time. Her supervisor tried and couldn't get the booking to go through. Then the supervisor responded that they were all sold out of that category and didn't understand why it was still in the system. So again I was forced to make a decision on behalf of my customer. Since I already had purchased the Airfare I went ahead and booked my customers at the next category level, knowing there would be a difference in price this was at 12:30 the next morning. I also new I could more than likely convince NCL to match the original quote I gave if things didn't workout. While I was on hold I received an e-mail from NCL explaining the details of one of the promotions in which this customer asked about, so I had forward that over to them. I really didn't have time to read it because I was so tied up in trying to get there booking to go through. The promo ad very clearly stated her cruise did not qualify for that particular promo. The next day I called the customer and explained my delemers of the night before. This is when it all blew up in my face. I explained about the airfare and they seemed content then I said let me get back to them on the cost of the cruise. After speaking to NCL sure enough they matched my original quote. So I called the customer, again being not satisfied because she was to get a $100.00 On Board Credit and was wondering what happened to it. I had told her I had explained to her if that credit was part of NCL's program she would get it. Come to find out this was something that Priceline was offering and not NCL. Then she started complaining stating I told her she would get the Freesome promo with there booking. Again I reminder her that I had said if her cruise qualifies. However there is no convincing this women, she still claims I told her She would get both promo's if she booked with me. I offered to call NCL and see what and if there was if their was anything they could do to help out in resolving this matter. And basically the answer is NO. I have accomplished in getting them a $50.00 OBC. However still not satisfied. Customer is claiming I did a bait and switch on them. Please advise, Ron XXX

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