How to Recognize the Most Common Bait-and-Switch Tricks at the Car Dealership

Sat, 3/17/2018 - 6:57 pm by Kirsten Rincon

car dealershipThe “bait and switch” technique is one of the most common tricks that car dealers use when trying to get more customers to come to their dealerships. It’s a tactics that has been bringing huge success to dealers for decades now, and it’s very easy to fall victim to.

Illegal, But Still Being Used

Even though bait and switch is illegal, auto dealers often manage to stay within the law when using this tactics, by exploiting various tricks and legal loopholes that are usually hidden in the fine print in ads. Car dealers protect themselves against prosecution by inserting specific words and phrases in ads and emails that make it legal to switch a consumer from purchasing the advertised product and selling them a different product at a much higher price.

Words like “while supplies last”, “limited stocks”, and “only available at certain store locations” are usually included in the fine print by retailers in order to avoid bait-and-switch charges. For instance, they might advertise a car an incredibly low price, but also include a statement in the advertisement that warns consumers that the vehicle is available in limited quantities, which is technically not a bait-and-switch. This way, when a customer comes to a store wanting to buy the advertised car at the advertised price, the seller has all the right to say that the item is out of stock and offer a more expensive model, instead.

Buyers Can Sue

On the other hand, if the seller failed to inform consumers that they only have limited quantities of the advertised car, and then tries to pressure them into buy a higher-priced model by using the excuse that they have run out of inventory, then the consumer can sue the seller for bait and switch.

Basically, while bait-and-switch is illegal and dishonest, auto dealers often get away with it by exploiting the little gray area in the law that allows them to make an insincere offer to sell a car at a certain price that they don’t actually want to sell, as long as they make it clear that the advertised item is only available under specific conditions.

To avoid being a victim of a bait-and-switch scheme, consumers should always read the fine print and make sure they understand the terms and conditions under which they can buy a car that is being offered in an ad for an unbelievably low price. In case a car buyer realizes that the seller has played a trick on them and sold them a vehicle for a price that was higher than the advertised price, they can hire an attorney that specializes in auto fraud cases and file a complaint with their state’s Attorney General office.