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‘Bait and switch’ warning ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Competition Bureau of Canada is warning shoppers of illegal sale tactics

The Competition Bureau of Canada wants you to know about a new online advertising trend ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Nearly half of Canadians are expected to score deals this Friday and Monday, and it wants to warn them about a “bait and switch” scheme.

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Here’s how it works: You find a great deal on an item online, such as a laptop. You then put the laptop in your shopping cart, check out and pay.

An email confirmation shows up in your inbox and everything looks good.

But then, you get another email from the retailer saying there was a mistake and they can’t honour the advertised price. So, they cancel your order and when you go back on the website, the same product is being offered at a higher price.

In some cases, the bureau said in its warning Wednesday, the bait and switch can be illegal because the store attracted you to their website under false pretenses.

“Don’t hesitate to contact the retailer’s customer service if you have questions, especially if your money is gone and there’s no product in sight,” the bureau said.

“You might only have a small window of time to flag the problem and alert your credit card provider.”

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The retailer may have to honour the advertised price. Contact your local consumer protection agency to learn if those rules apply.

If you’ve been the victim of a bait and switch, report it to the Competition Bureau.

If you see this play out during your holiday shopping, the bureau recommends you:

  • Keep all emails and credit card statements to do with your purchases
  • Ensure all of the money is refunded into your account
  • Use a credit card for extra protection
  • Continue to check your statements afterwards for any odd charges
  • Check the website to see if the sale price is still being advertised at the fake sale price and report it to the Competition Bureau if so.

@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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