“Bait and switch” is a deceptive marketing practice in which a seller advertises a product or service at an attractive price or with appealing features to attract customers, but then attempts to sell them a different, usually more expensive product or service. It involves luring customers in with a tempting offer (the “bait”) and then substituting it with something less desirable or more costly (the “switch”).

Key points about bait and switch include:

1. **Deceptive Advertising:**
– Bait and switch relies on deceptive advertising to attract customers. Sellers use enticing offers to get potential buyers interested, but the actual product or service provided may not match the advertised offer.

2. **Initial Attraction:**
– The bait, which is the initial offer, is designed to capture the attention of consumers and entice them to visit the store, website, or contact the seller. Common bait includes low prices, discounts, or special promotions.

3. **Substitution or Up-selling:**
– Once the customer expresses interest or arrives at the location, the seller attempts to switch the customer to a different product or service. This may involve claiming that the advertised product is sold out, unavailable, or of lower quality, and then proposing a substitute that is more expensive or less attractive.

4. **Violation of Consumer Protection Laws:**
– Bait and switch is generally considered unethical and, in many jurisdictions, illegal. Consumer protection laws often prohibit false advertising, deceptive trade practices, and bait-and-switch tactics. Violations can result in fines, legal action, or other penalties.

5. **Online and Offline Practices:**
– While bait and switch can occur in various industries, it is prevalent in both online and offline sales. In the online context, it might involve misleading advertisements on websites or social media platforms, while in physical stores, it may involve in-person interactions with sales representatives.

6. **Consumer Rights:**
– Consumers have the right to accurate and truthful information about the products or services they are purchasing. If they believe they have been subjected to bait and switch, they may have legal recourse to seek redress or file complaints with relevant consumer protection authorities.

7. **Trust and Reputation Impact:**
– Engaging in bait and switch can seriously damage a seller’s reputation and erode trust with customers. Negative reviews, social media backlash, and word-of-mouth can harm the business in the long run.

8. **Avoidance and Awareness:**
– Consumers can protect themselves by being cautious and aware of deals that seem too good to be true. Reading reviews, researching sellers, and verifying terms and conditions before making a purchase can help avoid falling victim to bait and switch.

Businesses that prioritize ethical practices and transparency in their dealings with customers are more likely to build trust and maintain positive relationships. Regulatory authorities play a crucial role in enforcing consumer protection laws and holding businesses accountable for deceptive practices.