Dealer Fraud: Bait and Switch Advertising

Jan 4, 2020

As many can attest, buying a car can be a stressful process, from selecting a vehicle and negotiating a price with an auto dealer to arranging for financing. While most car dealers are reputable, others may engage in fraudulent scams, one of the most common being bait and switch advertising. If you or someone you know has been the target of auto dealer fraud, having an experienced consumer law attorney on your side is invaluable.

Timothy Abeel & Associates, P.C. has decades of experience defending the rights of car buyers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We are well versed in the applicable state and federal consumer protection laws and have a proven track record of helping our clients obtain significant compensation.

How Auto Dealers Use Bait and Switch Advertising

It is important to note that bait and switch advertising is prohibited under consumer fraud laws. In short, this form of deceptive or false advertising involves a dealer enticing a customer to come to a showroom by advertising a vehicle at a certain price, claiming the car is no longer available, and then aggressively trying to sell the buyer a more expensive car. A bait and switch may also occur when a dealer tries to sell an advertised vehicle at a higher price or takes a deposit on an advertised car and then switches the customer into a higher-priced car.

How can you tell if you were a victim of a bait and switch?

There are a number of signs that may indicate you were the target of a bait and switch automobile scam.

  • The advertised deal was too good to be true. Typically, a dealer will lure customers by offering a “great deal.” If the price for the car appears to be far too low, however, something is wrong. If you see a deal that looks too good be true, it probably is.
  • When you arrived at the dealership, the advertised vehicle was not available or was already sold.
  • The dealer did not honor the advertised deal, pushed a different vehicle at a higher price, or tried to talk you into a different deal.
  • The fine print on an advertisement was hard to understand or confusing. In particular, there may be statements at the end to the effect that there are limited quantities available at the advertised price, or the deal is only available for “qualified buyers.”
  • The pricing terms contain misleading quotes or payment terms or misrepresent the cost of financing the vehicle.
  • You are told that all deals are final and non-refundable

Protecting Yourself Against Bait and Switch Car Dealers

The best way to prevent becoming a victim of bait and switch car sales tactics is to be prepared, and do your homework before you enter a dealership. If you are looking for a specific vehicle, insist on seeing and purchasing only that vehicle. If the dealer says its not available, simply leave. It is also important to note that when a car is advertised at a specific price, the dealer must sell the car at that price or have your written permission to switch you to a different vehicle.

In short, car buyers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are protected by consumer fraud laws which prohibit bait and switch sales practices or any other type of deceptive advertising. Although these laws recognize that the auto industry relies on advertising and marketing in order to reach customers, there are specific limitations and prohibitions relative to advertising both new and used vehicles.

Moreover, these regulations assume that auto dealers are fully aware of the nature and extent of their legal obligations in this regard. As such, a dealer who violates these laws when selling new or used vehicles is considered strictly liable for any losses arising from false advertising.

Bait and Switch Auto Dealer Fraud Attorney

At Timothy Abeel & Associates, our experienced consumer law attorneys have extensive experience handling bait and switch cases. We believe that consumers have a right to be treated fairly and that dealers who engage in fraud must be held accountable.

Our dedicated legal team has a well earned reputation for fighting for the rights of our clients. We know that consumers have powerful legal recourse under state and federal laws. If you have been the victim of bait and switch dealer fraud, you may be entitled to significant compensation including triple damages for you losses, attorney’s fees and costs. Call our office today for a free consultation or complete the contact form on our website.

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