What is Bait and Switch and How to Avoid it?

What is Bait and Switch and How to Avoid it?

As Benjamin Franklin mentions, ‘’Honesty is the best policy.’’  It goes without saying that any car buyer expects a fair treatment from the dealership.  Essentially, the last thing that any person wants is getting into a dishonest dealer’s trap. However, the reality is different. During car purchasing process you have to deal not only with honest dealers but scammers as well.  Bait and switch is one of the deceitful tactics that unethical dealers use as an ‘’effective’’ tool to make extra money at the expense of customers.

Have you come across an alluring advertisement about a perfect deal? Did it turn out that the car is already sold out?  Did the dealer try to convince you to purchase a more expensive car?Actually, all the above mentioned are the characterizing features of bait and switch. The main goal of this article is to help you have a clear idea of bait and switch car scam. You can also find out about tips on how to detect bait and switch and prevent it.

How does the FTC define bait and switch?

In fact, the FTC describes Bait and switch as an attractive but insincere offer, which aims to sell a product or service.  But the reality is that the advertiser has no intention of selling it.  The goal of the advertiser is simply switching a consumer from purchasing an advertised merchandise. The reasons behind this action are either selling something else at a higher price or on a basis that is more advantageous to the author of the advertisement.

Bait and Switch explained

Unfortunately, bait and switch is a widespread tactic in the USA that dealers use to rip off car buyers. That’s why having an appropriate awareness of this car scam is vital. To begin with, let’s refer to this question, ‘’What is Bait and switch?’’ In fact, in case of bait and switch, a consumer is enticed by an advertisement.  It offers a vehicle with a ‘’surprisingly’’ low price, but upon arriving at the dealership, you get an unpleasant surprise. The author of the advertisement informs a consumer that the car in question isn’t available at present. But, obviously, there is always a solution to any problem.  So, they ‘’kindly’’ offer you a replacement product, which is a much ‘’better’’ variant.

Sadly, some dealerships are capable of taking any steps to sell the vehicle. Among the common tactics is that they begin to talk the automobile down before the consumer sees it. Very frequently, consumers never have the opportunity of having a look at the car. The reason is that dealers are very cunning and attempt to steer you away from the advertised vehicle. In this case, these 3 variants are possible:

  • The automobile doesn’t exist
  • It has already been sold out
  • The vehicle in question doesn’t provide the dealer with larger profits. So, they offer a consumer another deal.

Preventing bait and switch

Any car shopper needs to be armed with appropriate knowledge to stay away from car scammers. Actually, this is the best tool to preventing bait and switch and investing your financial means in a quality vehicle. Here are several steps that can assist you in preventing bait and switch and getting rid of many headaches.

  • As a wise consumer, consider reading the fine print in any alluring advertisement carefully. Take a close look at the conditions of the ideal deal. Pay attention to wording which notes that the car may not be available when you want to purchase.
  • It is a warning sign when dealers inform consumers that the advertised vehicle isn’t in stock and offer another car. Are they trying their best to persuade you that the new variant is costlier but provides more benefits? Don’t believe them. Most probably, you are dealing with a scammer who is utilizing bait and switch tactic. Express your decision of refusing their offer firmly and in a clear manner. Then turn back and leave the dealership immediately. Let them understand that they can have no impact on your decision-making process.
  • Nowadays many unscrupulous dealerships use online websites for realizing their dishonest practices. It is a serious cause for concern if the enchanting deal comes with inadequate contact information.
  • It is always a good idea to call the dealership prior to visiting the dealership. If you get a confirmation, don’t hesitate to request a signed statement that the car is available for sale. They can do it either via email or fax.


We urge you not to put your hard-earned money into fraudulent dealers’ pockets.  If you want to stay away from car scammers using bait and switch tactic, don’t be lazy. Consider doing your research prior to purchasing a car or visiting the dealership. In case of appearing in such situations, seek the best solutions. At this point, the best decision is having a knowledgeable auto dealer fraud attorney by your side. A professional will evaluate your case in a proper manner and inform you about all the options. You will get a legal assistance if you decide to file a lawsuit.