Bait-and-Switch Practices

The term bait-and-switch is most commonly used to refer to an advertising practice that is both unethical and illegal. While the term has been used since the 1920s, the practice is likely to be much older. It typically involves an advertiser luring customers into a store or onto a website by offering a product at an unrealistically low price (the bait). The customer is then informed that the advertised goods are (a) not available or (b) of inferior quality and/or not suitable for the customer’s needs. The goal is to “switch” the customer to another, more expensive product or one that has a higher profit margin. What sets bait-and-switch apart from other advertising practices is that the seller does not intend to sell the advertised ...

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