Sunday, 12 June 2011

I hate . . . Bait and Switch Marketing

Bait and switch marketing is where an advert promises one thing, but delivers something else. I really hate this form of advertising; it's dishonest and (at least for me) totally ineffective. I am far more likely to never use that brand, or leave the site as soon as I notice.

The (Not) Free Offer

Probably one of the oldest, the big offering is 'FREE!!!!!' (exclamation marks common). When you actually try to get the good or service, you find that the free offer is so heavily limited as to be useless, or even worse, is nowhere to be found.

Now you see you don't

I'm seeing this more and more on comparison shopping sites. A goods is for sale at a certain retailer at 20% to 70% less than the next cheapest, but when you click through it is out of stock. While they are obviously hoping their other offers will tempt you its a big fail - I'm going to hit 'back' and carry on looking for the thing I searched for. You may occasionally get lucky and get hold of the one item they actually had in stock at that price - but I wouldn't bet on it.

The Optional Extras

A favourite of budget holiday and flight companies (as well as some online sellers), this is where the big headline price does not include a lot of the extras. This is fine where the extras are truly optionally, but is really annoying when they are not.

The attached image is just a bit of Ryanirs extra charges. Like £6 per passenger per flight for making payment by card - when the processing costs are more like 2%, not the hideous 33% Ryanair charge on it's cheapest flights. Add to that baggage, food, and boarding fees, it all gets to be as much as a 'premium' airline.

Other great scams in this category are huge postage and packing fees, heavily recommended 'options' like product insurance and overpriced consumables and parts.

Amazing Job Offers

Another favourite is the fake job offer - the 'Earn £2000 per month part time on your PC' ads. They almost always based on some very shaky numbers, and almost always require upfront payments (from a few pounds to serious money) for equipment and training. If anyone has EVER made the money promised on one of these, please comment!

All these are barely one step up from the classic Advanced Fee Fraud scam - promising the world before screwing the customer for everything they can get. Marketers: unless you want lumped in with a buch of dodgy Nigerians, just don't do it!