Garry Hertzberg explains your rights if you fall for the ‘bait and switch’ ploy …

Garry Hertzberg, practising attorney at Dewey Hertzberg Levy and host of the Laws of Life with Garry Hertzberg on Cliffcentral.com writes:

The man who looks after my garden came to me with a story.

He had seen an advert for a television on sale for a really good price and he decided to buy it. The next day, Saturday, he took two taxis to the shop and when he arrived there and tried to buy the television he was told that there were none available because they were sold out. However, the salesman said he could buy a similar television which cost considerably more.

He didn’t want the more expensive television for obvious reasons and he left empty handed, taking another two taxis home and wasting his Saturday.

Some stores use a marketing tactic called ‘bait and switch’ which means they advertise a fantastic deal and when the customer arrives the goods are ‘sold out’. They then try and sell them some other, more expensive item. It is often effective because the customer is already there and is in the frame of mind to buy something and so half of the work has been done. It goes without saying that this widespread practice is unethical and is also not permitted by the Consumer Protection Act.

The Act says that a supplier may not advertise goods at a specific price which would deceive consumers in respect of the availability of those goods at that price.

In consequence of this, the advertiser should say in their advert that stocks are limited to a specific number, for example, the first 20 customers. If they don’t, then you, the customer, can demand that the store supplies the advertised goods at the advertised price, or equivalent goods at the same price within a reasonable time.

Bait and switch is a deceptive trade practice in the retail environment and should be eradicated

If you feel that you have been a victim of bait marketing, you can approach the National Consumer Tribunal on 012 6838140 or registry@thenct.org.za

Read: ‘Give the abused a voice and the abuser a conviction’

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