Unfortunately, there are many scams out there targeting consumers today. One of them is known as bait and switch low rates. As suggested by its name, this scam makes use of unbelievably low prices to lure customers into making a purchase. Once a customer has fallen for it and made an initial payment, the item is then swapped for one of inferior quality or a much higher price.
How It Works
Have you ever come across a deal that’s simply too good to be true? You may have your doubts about it, but many customers do end up falling for a bait and switch scheme. How this scam works is that once the customer has paid a deposit, they are then told:
- The item is out of stock, and they have to pay more to “upgrade” to a similar item with better features. As customers do not wish to walk away empty-handed, they often end up doing so.
- The item is part of a more expensive package, which they have to purchase in order to enjoy the “discounted” rate.
- The low price is only available to the first 10 customers, despite not stating this in the advertisement.
- … and others!
Recognizing a Bait and Switch Scam
Unsure whether a deal you have encountered is genuine, or part of a bait and switch scam? Watch out for the following signs:
- The merchant is overly eager for you to make an online payment or take your credit card info even before you have had the chance to clarify about the deal.
- They do not take the time to answer your questions, brushing them aside and going straight ahead to ask how you will make payment.
- The merchant gives lots of excuses as to why they cannot honor the price stated, including that the item is out of stock or part of a larger package.
Not only is perpetuating a bait and switch scam wrong, but it is also illegal. If you suspect that you have been the victim of such a scam, you should report it to the relevant authorities.
When Is It Not a Scam?
Sometimes, mistakes do happen, and what appears to be a scam at first glance can be a genuine mistake. Whether this is on the merchant’s or customer’s part, these situations do not fall under the bait and switch scam:
- Failing to Read the Small Print Carefully
An example would be if an item is advertised at a low price but only limited to the first 10 customers, this means that any additional customers will have to pay a higher price. As long as this condition is clearly stated in the initial advertisement, it cannot be classified as a scam.
- A Genuine Pricing Mistake
Errors can occur from time to time, whether the merchant made a manual pricing error or the system mistakenly reflected the wrong price. As the merchant was unaware that the mistake had been made, they can cancel the orders and issue a refund to customers who have already paid.