What is bait and switch?
This is when a service or product is advertised at a low price to draw in customers but then swapped for a higher price service instead. A common one circulating is leaflets advertising carpet cleaning at a price too good to be true. Usually under £15 for an average sized living room, when the cleaner comes over they advise a deeper clean that will cost as much £150 more. Unfortunately people who are most likely to be taken in by this scam are the elderly and those who live alone with no support or guidance from family and friends.
Bait and switch is illegal under the 1998 consumers act; companies are not allowed to advertise a service or product at a low price with no intention of honouring or even swapping it for a higher priced deal instead.
It is illegal in most countries as it is so easy to persuade customers to go for a better package at a higher price, what’s worst is some companies who offer products at a low price do not even have the intention of selling them. It is merely a ploy to get customers in so they can persuade them to spend more.
Examples of bait and switch
Advertising a car with no intention to sell – there have been many classic examples of car dealers that advertise cars and vans at low prices that seem too good to be true. When you do get to the showroom you are told that another vehicle is available at a much better deal or price. Some places even have the car still being advertised months later when it was sold long ago.
Retailers offering bargain discounts – if you are waiting for a specific product to be reduced so you can buy it like a barbeque, sofa or other electrical appliance but when you go to the store or look online it is out of stock. Some places will never have had this stock in the first place; it was a ploy to get customers in the door, once in they are bound to find something else to buy instead.
Travel companies advertising cheap holidays – some places will state a starting from price whereas some do not. Some places will advertise cheap holiday deals but when you call they are sold out or there are other ‘better’ deals available.
If you feel you have been a victim of swoop and bait contact the Trading standards with details of what happened and the details of the company you feel tricked you. It helps if you have evidence such as a leaflet where the service was advertised or even a newspaper advert.