Types Of Bait Advertising

What is bait advertising?   Bait advertising is a common form of false advertising. It occurs when an item is advertised at a sale price but the seller does not
12 Sep 2016 11:41
Types Of Bait Advertising

What is bait advertising?


Bait advertising is a common form of false advertising. It occurs when an item is advertised at a sale price but the seller does not have sufficient stock to last until the end of the sale. Often consumers may purchase other more expensive items from the store instead. It is an unethical advertising technique that involves luring the customer in with a promise of a sale or an inexpensive item they may be interested in, and once their attention is captured, the advertiser changes the scheme by making the product unavailable and then directing the consumer to a like product that is more expensive. Bait advertising borders on being an outright fraudulent practice.


On-line Advertising

Online companies use bait advertising for the express purpose of coercing a consumer into buying a product they’re interested in, but not for the price it was advertised, thus tricking, or baiting the consumer into switching, or buying something for a much higher price than the original item that grabbed their attention. Even if 1 percent of consumers actually purchase the pricier item, the advertiser is using bait sales stands to gain a profit. To increase potential profit, they must advertise many times in this fashion.

Bait advertising is also used in online job advertisements by misleading the potential applicant/employee about working conditions, pay, or other factors surrounding employment that are simply not true. Airlines also advertise in this manner by baiting their potential customers with great airfare deals, only to up the price or switch the advertisement to be that of a much more expensive flight. Here they’ve peaked the customer’s interest and if the customer really wants to take the trip, they might pay for the more expensive travel package anyway. Hotel resorts use this form of advertising as well to a very large extent.

The problem with bait advertising is the legal issues that can ensue. In online retail, the U.S. has laws against bait advertising where merchants may be subject to lawsuits due to false advertising. They can also be sued for copyright infringement should they profit from the sale. But if a merchant can actually sell the advertised products even if they aggressively push another item, they can’t be sued. In Wales and England, bait advertising is illegal under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Criminal prosecution, fines and two years in jail may result.


Bait and Switch Pricing

This is an illegal practice of ‘baiting’ customers with unrealistically low prices to bring them into the store, and then trying to sell them higher-priced goods on the pretext that the advertised bargain-priced goods are sold out. It is also called bait pricing.


Examples of Bait advertising

One of a Kind

One of the more common examples of a bait and switch sales tactic is when used car dealerships advertise extremely low prices on vehicles for which they have a very limited number in stock. You might see an advertisement for a car you would like at a price you can afford, but when you get to the dealership the car is already sold. In this case, the dealer will offer to show you other vehicles you might be interested in. This is technically legal because the dealership did have at least one such car in stock, and it is possible that the one vehicle was already promised to another customer when it was advertised. By the time other interested consumers arrive, the advertised vehicle is gone and the bait and switch is on.


While Supplies Last

One bait and switch technique that retailers use is to offer a free accessory with a popular product to drive foot traffic to the store. For example, a retail store may offer a free ink cartridge for each printer sold while supplies of the cartridge last. But the supplies are limited and are gone by the time a majority of the consumers arrive at the store. In lieu of giving you a free cartridge, the store will try to sell you one instead. This is an example of how retail stores use limited supply specials as a bait and switch.



Financing can be a convenient way for consumers to make larger purchases such as cars, home appliances or furniture. Companies will promote low financing rates as a major focus of their advertising for an upcoming sale. The promise might be that everyone will be eligible for financing, or that financing is available at an interest rate as low as zero percent. It is important to read the fine print in these ads. The bait and switch in this type of advertising is usually that only people with excellent credit might qualify for zero percent financing. Even if you have great credit, you might have to put money down to get the zero percent rate. The bait is the zero percent interest rate. The switch is when people do not read the fine print and are met with a long list of conditions after they’ve already decided to buy an item.


Actual Item Not Pictured

Bait and switch advertising is effective because it gets the consumer believing that he is going to find the deal of the year by just walking into a store. Whether that item is a free giveaway after making a purchase, or the ability to purchase a unique item at a low price, the attraction of bait and switch advertising is strong. For example, if you see an advertisement that promises a free television to everyone that purchases a new vehicle, you may be tempted to check out the dealership’s cars because of the 52-inch high definition television you saw in the picture. But if you read the fine print of the ad, it will tell you that the actual television they are giving away is not pictured

Next Week: Price Discrimination

For more information/details on Fiji Commerce Commission and Commerce Commission Decree 2010, visit our website on join us on our Facebook page at

Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.

By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.

Five Squares Platinum Deals

Tower Insurance
Fiji Sun Instagram