Bait and Switch

By rfrancis • September 29th, 2010

The bait and switch is an unscrupulous tactic, which has been utilized in many forms but is most frequently seen in sales. This tactic is commonly called a fraud because it involves deliberately misleading claims and no intent to deliver the exact product expected by the consumer.

Bait and switch as it refers to carpet cleaning is usually seen in the following form or a slight variation thereof. A cleaning service will advertise an incredible deal on carpet cleaning something as amazing an entire house for the low price of $59.95. This is a deal just too good to be true and yet there are always customers who need their carpet cleaned and will call and schedule.

The carpet cleaning crew arrives and the customer will find at the point that the charges begin to pile up. Moving furniture will incur a hefty charge; there will be an additional charge to replace the furniture. The cleaning solution will be marked up at a huge profit and there are many more charges that can, and probably will be added. When it is all finished that $59.95 carpet cleaning can cost as much as $250.00 or more.

When the bait and switch is employed in carpet sales it usually runs like this, the dealer advertises carpet complete with installation included, at an incredibly low price, in addition, low a price. When the customer comes into the store, the dealer will then show them a carpet, which is completely unacceptable, and no one would possibly want no matter how low the price. Of course, the customer is worried about the quality of the carpet and the sales clerk offers to show them some better carpets.

That in essence is the whole bait and switch fraud. It is unethical to say the least but prevalent all over the US. The customer may end up buying a much-overpriced carpet cleaning service or a carpet and the dealer has just accomplished his mission, to increase sales on products, on which he makes a good profit.

A variation to the bait and switch is found in the following example. A company could advertise green carpet cleaning or any other desirable cleaning process. What is delivered is not usually, what the customer expected. The green cleaning could be Al Green’s super duper death chemical mixture. This takes advantage of customer’s expectations and shared experiences. In other words when someone sees the term “Green cleaning” they expect that the product to be environmentally friendly. However, the product is named Al Green’s super duper death chemical mixture for carpets. The reason the customer probably chose that carpet service is that they offered green carpet cleaning at an incredibly low price, in fact, too low a price.

One thing that the bait and switch or any other frauds have in common is that the deal is often just too good to be true. The price is too low, the carpet too high quality, or of a very difficult to obtain and expensive brand, or the cleaning is a desirable and more expensive process, and the customer goes for it.

The old adage about “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” is ignored, and the customer does not get what they believed they were being sold. The best way to protect against such unethical tactics is to remember that every dealer is in business to make a profit. If the price is too low, there is a catch, and it is up to the customer to find it before falling into that trap.

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