Bait and switch

Started 7 months ago | Discussions
gazis
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Bait and switch
7 months ago

Hi all,

I would like to solicit feedback from our members on their experience, if any, with the so-called 'Bait-and-Switch' strategy in photographic gear promotions.

But first, allow me to explain how, in principle, the 'Bait-and-Switch' strategy works, through a hypothetical example:

- The retailer announces a (typically limited-time) reduced price offer for an item. For instance, for a lens costing USD 1,000, an offer of, say, USD 800 may be announced (e.g., when combined with a coupon code)

- The consumer orders the item online, or, visits the retailer's local store for the item

- The retailer, in the case where the consumer issues an online order, typically does nothing and waits for the consumer to contact him/her with a status request for the order. When the consumer does so eventually, the retailer claims that there has been a problem with the payment, that he/she has repeatedly tried to contact the consumer via email on this matter, and that, for lack of a response, he/she has had to cancel the order. Nonetheless, he/she states that he/she will happily accept a renewed order of the item from the consumer, at the latest price of course. The consumer, in checking his/her email, finds no relevant email. In the case that the consumer requests an order priced at the level of the original order, the retailer regretfully informs the consumer that this cannot be supported.

- The retailer, in the case where the consumer visits his/her local store, regretfully informs the consumer that the stock to which the offer applied has been already exhausted and states that he/she will accept a renewed order of the item from the consumer, at the higher price of the remaining stock of the item.

This is pretty much the skeleton of the strategy; variations may apply, depending on the item promoted, the application of combined offerings, and so on.

As consumers, I am pretty sure most of us are not entirely unfamiliar with this practice, so I would welcome a round of feedback where we get to share our experiences with it. I hope it is not too much of a burden and it will certainly educate us all a bit.

Cheers,

Vangelis

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Re: Bait and switch
In reply to gazis, 7 months ago

All correct. If a fixed retail outfit tried this on a regular basis in Europe then they would certainly get a visit from the equivalent of Trading Standards and probably a day in court.

Obviously web based and 'fronting' outfits are harder to police .

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mgd43
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Re: Bait and switch
In reply to Jaberwok, 7 months ago

This is why I only deal with stores that have shown themselves to be honest and reliable, not only for photography gear but for everything. For photo gear I only deal with B&H, keh.com, and Adorama online and Abe's of Maine in person (I live near them).

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Re: Bait and switch
In reply to gazis, 7 months ago

I've seen several variations on this which don't break any laws. The retailer offers an XYZ model something at a competitive price. When the punter rings / arrives then then 'Unfortunately Sir, the XYZ is sold out and I don't know when we'll be getting them back in stock so I can't take your order.'

'However I do have this XYZ+ from Sony which as Sir knows is a much better machine altogether and I can do for just a bit more than the inferior model..'

So punter is sucked in by an advert for something the retailer never had and couldn't sell and ends up paying more for something else. The retailer may be issuing misleading advertising but is very unlikely to get prosecuted for it: too hard to prove.

Auto dealers do this all the time..upselling"

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wchutt
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This scam is as common as dirt (nt)
In reply to gazis, 7 months ago
No text.
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Mark B.
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Re: Bait and switch
In reply to gazis, 7 months ago

Can honestly say I've never had this happen to me.  All I can suggest is to stay with known, reputable dealers - B&H, Adorama, Amazon, Calumet Photographic to name a few.  Otherwise any deal that looks too good to be true probably is and should be avoided.

Mark

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Doug J
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Re: Bait and switch
In reply to gazis, 7 months ago

A search on DPR for "Bait and Switch" returns ~ 6,300 posts - lots of examples of various versions & examples of scams. Over the years here, what I've seen is a predominance of online scams, frequently when someone is looking for the absolute cheapest price.

Cheers,
Doug

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Cane
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Re: Bait and switch
In reply to gazis, 7 months ago

Don't get it? Unless you are a moron, why would you buy said product at another higher price and not walk away?

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chooflaki
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Re: Bait and switch
In reply to Cane, 7 months ago

I was exposed to it recently on an appliance website. They had a vacuum cleaner I wanted at a very low price but avaliable for walk in shoppers only. Not avaliable for online purchase. Of course when I went to the shop I found the same cleaner was at a significantly  higher price. Like 80% more. When I questioned the sales person he told me the lower price was for a particular  colour( tan)  which was poor selling, heavily discounted and now were sold out.  So if I wanted one I had to buy the expensive blue version.  Of course he offered me a 10% discount on it but it was still way over the price of the bogus tan model. This is a situation where it is easy to fall for the trap because I was already in the shop where I could be influenced  and did need the cleaner. I was somewhat offended and went to another shop where I got one at the same price as the 10% discounted blue model plus another 10% discount.

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fredphotog
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Re: Bait and switch
In reply to mgd43, 7 months ago

mgd43 wrote:

This is why I only deal with stores that have shown themselves to be honest and reliable, not only for photography gear but for everything. For photo gear I only deal with B&H, keh.com, and Adorama online and Abe's of Maine in person (I live near them).

That's pretty funny because for the last near-40 years, those are the ONLY four places I have dealt with.  And one local for darkroom supplies back in the day, not so long ago.

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Pontoneer
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Re: Bait and switch
In reply to gazis, 7 months ago

gazis wrote:

Hi all,

I would like to solicit feedback from our members on their experience, if any, with the so-called 'Bait-and-Switch' strategy in photographic gear promotions.

But first, allow me to explain how, in principle, the 'Bait-and-Switch' strategy works, through a hypothetical example:

- The retailer announces a (typically limited-time) reduced price offer for an item. For instance, for a lens costing USD 1,000, an offer of, say, USD 800 may be announced (e.g., when combined with a coupon code)

- The consumer orders the item online, or, visits the retailer's local store for the item

- The retailer, in the case where the consumer issues an online order, typically does nothing and waits for the consumer to contact him/her with a status request for the order. When the consumer does so eventually, the retailer claims that there has been a problem with the payment, that he/she has repeatedly tried to contact the consumer via email on this matter, and that, for lack of a response, he/she has had to cancel the order. Nonetheless, he/she states that he/she will happily accept a renewed order of the item from the consumer, at the latest price of course. The consumer, in checking his/her email, finds no relevant email. In the case that the consumer requests an order priced at the level of the original order, the retailer regretfully informs the consumer that this cannot be supported.

- The retailer, in the case where the consumer visits his/her local store, regretfully informs the consumer that the stock to which the offer applied has been already exhausted and states that he/she will accept a renewed order of the item from the consumer, at the higher price of the remaining stock of the item.

This is pretty much the skeleton of the strategy; variations may apply, depending on the item promoted, the application of combined offerings, and so on.

As consumers, I am pretty sure most of us are not entirely unfamiliar with this practice, so I would welcome a round of feedback where we get to share our experiences with it. I hope it is not too much of a burden and it will certainly educate us all a bit.

Cheers,

Vangelis

This really is very simple - by accepting payment for an item ordered , the supplier has entered into a contract to supply the goods ordered at the agreed price : they must either fulfill the order or refund in full .

If they fail to do either , the most effective remedy , failing a chargeback on your credit/debit card , is to raise an action in the small claims court , where they will be ordered to pay - this can be enforced if they do not comply . Don't forget to ask for costs when raising your court action .

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With kind regards
Derek.

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gazis
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Re: Bait and switch
In reply to Pontoneer, 7 months ago

Thanks Derek,

This is clear: if a charge exists, then value has changed ownership and this must be reflected on both participants. Hence the retailer would be legally obliged to either deliver the item, or, refund in full.

However, what if the item's price has not been charged to the consumer but the later is provided with information that the order was accepted? Assuming the item is in stock, would that stand as ground for the retailer to be obliged to provide the item at the price quoted in the order?

Cheers,

Vangelis

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Pontoneer
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Re: Bait and switch
In reply to gazis, 7 months ago

gazis wrote:

Thanks Derek,

This is clear: if a charge exists, then value has changed ownership and this must be reflected on both participants. Hence the retailer would be legally obliged to either deliver the item, or, refund in full.

However, what if the item's price has not been charged to the consumer but the later is provided with information that the order was accepted? Assuming the item is in stock, would that stand as ground for the retailer to be obliged to provide the item at the price quoted in the order?

Cheers,

Vangelis

I am no lawyer but I think that situation is less clear .

If something is offered for sale at a certain price , and a customer tries to pay , then is told that price is incorrect , there is provision ( in UK law at least ) for a genuine error and the retailer can point out that it was a mistake and are not obliged to sell .

Having said that , most genuine retailers will honour prices quoted in error ( unless the quoted price is way under the true value - for example a decimal point in the wrong place ) . If it actually gets so far that payment is accepted and a receipt issued then the deal is binding . It may be possible , where it is clear that a mistake was made , for the seller to refund in full and point this out , but there have been cases of large companies honouring items wrongly sold for a fraction of the correct prices before errors were spotted .

In both cases , it is unlikely that a court would take action if it can be shown that the customer suffered no loss ( other than being denied something at a bargain price ) .

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With kind regards
Derek.

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Re: Bait and switch
In reply to Pontoneer, 7 months ago

Pontoneer wrote:

gazis wrote:

Thanks Derek,

This is clear: if a charge exists, then value has changed ownership and this must be reflected on both participants. Hence the retailer would be legally obliged to either deliver the item, or, refund in full.

However, what if the item's price has not been charged to the consumer but the later is provided with information that the order was accepted? Assuming the item is in stock, would that stand as ground for the retailer to be obliged to provide the item at the price quoted in the order?

Cheers,

Vangelis

I am no lawyer but I think that situation is less clear .

If something is offered for sale at a certain price , and a customer tries to pay , then is told that price is incorrect , there is provision ( in UK law at least ) for a genuine error and the retailer can point out that it was a mistake and are not obliged to sell .

Having said that , most genuine retailers will honour prices quoted in error ( unless the quoted price is way under the true value - for example a decimal point in the wrong place ) . If it actually gets so far that payment is accepted and a receipt issued then the deal is binding . It may be possible , where it is clear that a mistake was made , for the seller to refund in full and point this out , but there have been cases of large companies honouring items wrongly sold for a fraction of the correct prices before errors were spotted .

In both cases , it is unlikely that a court would take action if it can be shown that the customer suffered no loss ( other than being denied something at a bargain price ) .

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With kind regards
Derek.

You're pretty well correct however a dispute can arise if, for example. I walk into a store and ask them to specifically order an item: 'I like that sofa but not in red, order me one in green' No money has changed hands but a signed order would commit you to the offered price and a commitment to pay. In theory a verbal agreement would do the same but very hard to enforce.

In this case the court would take the view that the retailer had taken a loss by ordering in a special item at the customer request and had suffered financial loss.

This is diverting from the thread. Consumer law is extremely complex. I did it for 3 years and it's a minefield.

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digitalshooter
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usually involves gray market items and non approved dealers (nt)
In reply to gazis, 7 months ago
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Thanks,
Digitalshooter
PS: all posts are just my opinion!

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Pontoneer
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Re: Bait and switch
In reply to Jaberwok, 7 months ago

Jaberwok wrote:

Pontoneer wrote:

gazis wrote:

Thanks Derek,

This is clear: if a charge exists, then value has changed ownership and this must be reflected on both participants. Hence the retailer would be legally obliged to either deliver the item, or, refund in full.

However, what if the item's price has not been charged to the consumer but the later is provided with information that the order was accepted? Assuming the item is in stock, would that stand as ground for the retailer to be obliged to provide the item at the price quoted in the order?

Cheers,

Vangelis

I am no lawyer but I think that situation is less clear .

If something is offered for sale at a certain price , and a customer tries to pay , then is told that price is incorrect , there is provision ( in UK law at least ) for a genuine error and the retailer can point out that it was a mistake and are not obliged to sell .

Having said that , most genuine retailers will honour prices quoted in error ( unless the quoted price is way under the true value - for example a decimal point in the wrong place ) . If it actually gets so far that payment is accepted and a receipt issued then the deal is binding . It may be possible , where it is clear that a mistake was made , for the seller to refund in full and point this out , but there have been cases of large companies honouring items wrongly sold for a fraction of the correct prices before errors were spotted .

In both cases , it is unlikely that a court would take action if it can be shown that the customer suffered no loss ( other than being denied something at a bargain price ) .

-- hide signature --

With kind regards
Derek.

You're pretty well correct however a dispute can arise if, for example. I walk into a store and ask them to specifically order an item: 'I like that sofa but not in red, order me one in green' No money has changed hands but a signed order would commit you to the offered price and a commitment to pay. In theory a verbal agreement would do the same but very hard to enforce.

In this case the court would take the view that the retailer had taken a loss by ordering in a special item at the customer request and had suffered financial loss.

This is diverting from the thread. Consumer law is extremely complex. I did it for 3 years and it's a minefield.

-- hide signature --

The degree of technical knowledge of the fanboi owner is inversely proportional to the size of his ego.

Agreed , a loss can be on either side , the case you quoted being a good example .

However , I doubt that many retailers these days would place a special order for something they would not normally stock , or expect to sell easily , without at least taking a deposit or even full payment up front .

I worked in retail ( ran a hi-fi shop ) for a number of years , and we would never order in expensive non-stock and non-returnable items without a substantial deposit ( which could be anywhere from 10% to 50% depending on what the item was and whether or not the customer was known to us ) .

-- hide signature --

With kind regards
Derek.

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Re: Bait and switch
In reply to Pontoneer, 7 months ago

Pontoneer wrote:

Jaberwok wrote:

Pontoneer wrote:

gazis wrote:

Thanks Derek,

This is clear: if a charge exists, then value has changed ownership and this must be reflected on both participants. Hence the retailer would be legally obliged to either deliver the item, or, refund in full.

However, what if the item's price has not been charged to the consumer but the later is provided with information that the order was accepted? Assuming the item is in stock, would that stand as ground for the retailer to be obliged to provide the item at the price quoted in the order?

Cheers,

Vangelis

I am no lawyer but I think that situation is less clear .

If something is offered for sale at a certain price , and a customer tries to pay , then is told that price is incorrect , there is provision ( in UK law at least ) for a genuine error and the retailer can point out that it was a mistake and are not obliged to sell .

Having said that , most genuine retailers will honour prices quoted in error ( unless the quoted price is way under the true value - for example a decimal point in the wrong place ) . If it actually gets so far that payment is accepted and a receipt issued then the deal is binding . It may be possible , where it is clear that a mistake was made , for the seller to refund in full and point this out , but there have been cases of large companies honouring items wrongly sold for a fraction of the correct prices before errors were spotted .

In both cases , it is unlikely that a court would take action if it can be shown that the customer suffered no loss ( other than being denied something at a bargain price ) .

-- hide signature --

With kind regards
Derek.

You're pretty well correct however a dispute can arise if, for example. I walk into a store and ask them to specifically order an item: 'I like that sofa but not in red, order me one in green' No money has changed hands but a signed order would commit you to the offered price and a commitment to pay. In theory a verbal agreement would do the same but very hard to enforce.

In this case the court would take the view that the retailer had taken a loss by ordering in a special item at the customer request and had suffered financial loss.

This is diverting from the thread. Consumer law is extremely complex. I did it for 3 years and it's a minefield.

-- hide signature --

The degree of technical knowledge of the fanboi owner is inversely proportional to the size of his ego.

Agreed , a loss can be on either side , the case you quoted being a good example .

However , I doubt that many retailers these days would place a special order for something they would not normally stock , or expect to sell easily , without at least taking a deposit or even full payment up front .

I worked in retail ( ran a hi-fi shop ) for a number of years , and we would never order in expensive non-stock and non-returnable items without a substantial deposit ( which could be anywhere from 10% to 50% depending on what the item was and whether or not the customer was known to us ) .

-- hide signature --

With kind regards
Derek.

I was quoting an extreme and unlikely scenario just as an example to make a point. If the retailer takes a deposit then the contract is made and the customer has no defence to the claim if he doesn't pay. The only recourse could possibly be if the good weren't as agreed when we are back to a liability on the retailer to fulfil his contract.

We could play tennis with this all day as it's complex law!

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gazis
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Re: Bait and switch
In reply to Pontoneer, 7 months ago

Hi all,

A while ago I started this thread to solicit the opinions of the group, without revealing the identities of the retailer and the consumer.

The title of the thread was chosen to mark a sales promotion strategy which is generally understood as borderline fraud and, in some countries, comes with legal sanctions. The underpinning of this strategy is that the consumer is placed in a state of raised expectations regarding acquiring an item as a result of retailer information which comes with no proof of evidence. When that information is called invalid by the retailer, the latter leverages the consumer's raised expectations to direct him or her to a higher price item for sale.

It is my opinion that, consumer feedback, particularly if shared among consumers, improves the service of retailers on the long run.

To this end, I should inform you all that, in the "Bait and switch" thread, the hypothetical retailer was actually Adorama and the hypothetical consumer was actually me.

For any of you who want to read for themselves the email transcript regarding this matter, you can find it at https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/9600225/customer-adorama.pdf. If you review it to the end, you will find also the response from the Adorama customer service supervisor, whose response to my question I am still waiting for. But then again I guess the statement "Please let me know if you have questions" does not mean that a response is due, right?

Cheers to all,

Vangelis

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socode
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Re: Bait and switch
In reply to gazis, 7 months ago

gazis wrote:

A while ago I started this thread to solicit the opinions of the group, without revealing the identities of the retailer and the consumer.

It was very vague and didn't describe what happened in specific terms. So what happened? Did they give a reason (e.g. if payment declined - did you check with your card company if that actually happened)? Did they try to upsell you?

If you ordered from a 'special stock category', i.e. an individual used/refurbished item, or where stock levels are especially low, it could be just subject to the quality of the retailers inventory system, and how they transactionalize stock picking (collect at store orders are probably prone to this). For used especially, the inventory is probably inaccurate, and any individual item showing as at a particular store could have been pilfered by a member of staff.

Sometimes stuff happens, and even a good retailer will have some off transactions. So just exercise your judgement.

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Aberaeron
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Re: Bait and switch
In reply to gazis, 7 months ago

gazis wrote:

Hi all,

A while ago I started this thread to solicit the opinions of the group, without revealing the identities of the retailer and the consumer.

The title of the thread was chosen to mark a sales promotion strategy which is generally understood as borderline fraud and, in some countries, comes with legal sanctions. The underpinning of this strategy is that the consumer is placed in a state of raised expectations regarding acquiring an item as a result of retailer information which comes with no proof of evidence. When that information is called invalid by the retailer, the latter leverages the consumer's raised expectations to direct him or her to a higher price item for sale.

It is my opinion that, consumer feedback, particularly if shared among consumers, improves the service of retailers on the long run.

To this end, I should inform you all that, in the "Bait and switch" thread, the hypothetical retailer was actually Adorama and the hypothetical consumer was actually me.

For any of you who want to read for themselves the email transcript regarding this matter, you can find it at https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/9600225/customer-adorama.pdf. If you review it to the end, you will find also the response from the Adorama customer service supervisor, whose response to my question I am still waiting for. But then again I guess the statement "Please let me know if you have questions" does not mean that a response is due, right?

Cheers to all,

Vangelis

While it is unfortunate that you did not receive the lens originally advertised, Adorama do not seem to have done anything untoward. They have not taken your money and have not tried to push you to a higher price product. Indeed it is you who have done all the pushing.

It is unfortunate that they did not communicate the situation to you immediately, but if they had I suppose there would be more grounds for supposing they were trying a bait and switch. They can't win!

One possibility is that the original price was mistaken and they could not supply at that price and were looking for a way out. That is supposition but these things happen to the best of us.

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