Why is it I so often go into Fry's Electronics (Downers Grove, IL) to buy products I see on sale in their flyer, only to find they have sold out, and the salesperson tries to sell me a similar, but more expensive model?
I went in last night, ready to buy a laptop, was told they ran out and that "We don't know when will get more, but see these. Only $150 more."
I feel cheated, that Fry's is trying to rip me off. This has happened several times. I feel lied to by the ad, and by Fry's as a whole.
Buying a laptop often is a "I need it now" item. Kid is leaving for school. Existing one breaks down or is lost/stolen. In my case, I need one to be do my job as a writer for a particular client. In other words, I do not have time to wait for Fry's dubious rain check suggestion.
Is this legally bait and switch? I don't know.
There are legal parameters to what counts as bait and switch. I missed the small print covering any "limited quantity" disclaimer.
What Wikipedia says:
"The goal of the bait-and-switch is to persuade buyers to purchase the substitute goods as a means of avoiding disappointment over not getting the bait, or as a way to recover sunk costs expended to try to obtain the bait. It suggests that the seller will not show the original product or service advertised but instead will demonstrate a more expensive product or a similar product with a higher margin."
And, "In the United States, courts have held that the purveyor using a bait-and-switch operation may be subject to a lawsuit by customers for false advertising, and can be sued for trademark infringement by competing manufacturers, retailers, and others who profit from the sale of the product used as bait. However, no cause of action will exist if the purveyor is capable of actually selling the goods advertised, but aggressively pushes a competing product.
Likewise, advertising a sale while intending to stock a limited amount of, and thereby sell out, a loss-leading item advertised is legal in the United States. The purveyor can escape liability if they make clear in their advertisements that quantities of items for which a sale is offered are limited, or by offering a rain check on sold-out items."