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Bait and Switch: Introduction

Reviewed 12/14/2018

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Bait and Switch is "A dishonest sales practice in which a business advertises a bargain price for an item in order to draw customers in and then tells the prospective buyer that the advertised item is of poor quality or no longer available and attempts to switch the customer to a more expensive product. In most states this practice is a crime and can also be the basis for a personal lawsuit if damages can be proved." Cornell Legal Information Institute

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines bait and switch advertising as: "an alluring but insincere offer to sell a product or service which the advertiser in truth does not intend or want to sell. Its purpose is to switch consumers from buying the advertised merchandise, in order to sell something else, usually at a higher price or on a basis more advantageous to the advertiser. The primary aim of a bait advertisement is to obtain leads as to persons interested in buying merchandise of the type so advertised." 

Researching this topic may require looking at state and federal law. The New Hampshire Consumer Protection Act (RSA 358-A) and the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. § 45), the federal law which served as the model for our state law, generally prohibit the use of any unfair or deceptive act or practice (UDAP) or any unfair method of competition in trade or commerce in New Hampshire. 


Please remember that this guide is for information purposes only and is not comprehensive.  It is intended as a starting point for research, to illustrate the various sources of the law, and to provide guidance in their use. NH Law About ... is not a substitute for the services of an attorney.