The Bait & Switch is Alive and Well

The Bait & Switch is Alive and Well

Car shopping is one of those activities that most of us only do every several years. I hadn’t bought a car in over 8 years when in the span of a year and half, I bought two. So in the last decade, I’ve bought 3 vehicles and the buying experience had a common element each time: the old bait and switch. You find a car or truck you are interested in and go to the dealership only to find out that the one you wanted isn’t available but there are several like it (always at higher prices) available. Why am I writing about this now since I haven’t bought a vehicle in a few years? A coworker was telling me about his recent experience, and it gave me flashbacks. We handled the same experience in two very different ways but we both had something in common.

Walk Away

In my case, once I identified the bait and switch, I simply walked away, but not before test driving the vehicle they did want to show me. I then went online to find a vehicle with a different dealership and did the whole transaction via email and phone calls. There was no bait and switch this time and I got the vehicle I wanted at the price I wanted.

Call Them on it

My coworker had a completely different approach. He called the salesman on it and straight up told him that he knew it was a bait and switch situation. Realizing he was caught, the salesman became very transparent and even let the sales manager know that the customer he was dealing with was aware of such tactics and that he would not put up with them. Now they knew that my coworker was prepared and knew that he expected complete honesty. He didn’t buy a vehicle on that day, but hasn’t ruled out that dealership because he feels like now they know they have to work with him on his terms.

Be prepared

Both ways of handling the same situation had similarities that can help with any car buying experience. The main similarity is the preparation that should go into buying a vehicle. Here are some preparations both of us use that we’ve learned through working at the credit union:

  • Be willing to walk away. Set a price ceiling and don’t go above it.
  • Get preapproved for a loan. Knowing you have financing secured puts you in control.
  • Do your vehicle research: tools for researching vehicle from top to bottom are plentiful. You should go into the dealership knowing about the different engine options, trim packages, etc. and associated costs.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t feel comfortable with the process, ask a friend, family member or one our team members about the process.

Buying a vehicle can be a stressful experience and if the bait and switch is in play, it can add even more stress. Preparation and deciding how you’ll respond are keys to making the experience more pleasant.


Post author: Jamieson Mackay, CCUFC

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.