I wrote on the subject of Internet “bait & switch” almost 3 years ago, but the problem is actually getting worse as dealers try their best to undercut each other’s prices. Perhaps most concerning is people believing the prices they see online are credible and the gospel.
Since a car dealer ever ran the first newspaper ad, there have been bait and switch tactics going on. Not all car dealers do this, but a good percentage of them do. By definition, a bait and switch are when a dealer publicly prices a car with no intention of selling it for that price. As newspaper advertising has been on the decline for car dealers, many are turning to the Internet to continue to mislead people.
Unfortunately, many people believe that everything on the Internet is true. Oh sure, there are laws against this sort of practice, but in most states the practice is so rampant that regulators cannot begin to enforce the laws on the books. We have seen more enforcement action from the Federal Trade Commission lately, but there is no way they can get to every dealers website, and frankly some dealers are willing to pay a fine rather than advertise ethically.
The most common bait and switch involve pricing cars way below their cost. The dealer designates one particular stock number or VIN at that price, and once the vehicle is sold – whether at that price or not – none of the other vehicles on the lot can be purchased for that price. The salespeople at places like this are trained to waltz you around the lot, finally declaring that the advertised vehicle “must have been sold already” and then finding a similar one, vowing to “get as close to that ad price as possible”. Let the games begin.
Recently, a dealer affiliate of the radio show alerted me to the newest trend online. (continue reading)