Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How I Dealt With a Bait and Switch

Two days ago in trade, someone posted they wanted to sell Hurricane Deck for 11k. Spotting a good deal, I immediately took action, only to discover I was involved in a bait and switch.

No sooner had I agreed to his deal than he bumped it to 12k. Here is where I made my first and only mistake, as seen in the picture above. Knowing 12k is still a great deal, I said sure. And I would just need to transfer gold.

He did not immediately respond, so I continued on my way to grab some parchments when he came back with this.

At this point I was pissed, he was looking to increase his sale by 2k over what he posted in trade. Immediately I put in a ticket. In a whisper back I informed him.

"no, you originally posted 11k in trade, that is what you have to sell at, this is called baiting and switching and is against ToS. I'm reporting you as we speak"

A minute later I received his response.

"Okay, I'll sell it to you for the 12k"

Still fuming I politely responded "No, I'll keep my ticket in."

Clearly at this point he was scared. He offered to sell it to me for the original 11k and asked if he did would I take out the ticket. I agreed only to have this happen.

As you can see I stood firm at 11k. He took off, and I reported again that I had screenshot the entire event and my ticket was still in. Reluctantly he returned and finally made the trade, for 11k. I gave him a stern lecture about Baiting and Switching and kept the ticket in after modifying it to tell the whole story.

So there you have it, that was how I dealt with a bait and switch situation. What would you have done differently?

Cheers - Brouck


  1. Sounds like you did the right thing to me. From a legal standpoint (law student here, so enjoy some amateur lawyering!), what he's doing is clearly wrong too. He offered to sell, you accepted, and that's pretty much the basis of all valid and binding contracts. Glad to hear it worked out in the end, and I hope he gets a harsh verbal beatdown from a GM.

  2. I had something similar happen to me a while back before I read any blogs. I had just dinged my rogue to 80 & one of my guildies was advising me about weapons & stuff when the one he was sugesting came up in trade. I immediately /w the trade guy & agreed his price. When he responded he said he had another interested party & would I up my offer so I did (by about 30g!). This went on a few more times with me getting it for about 120g more than the original trade price. I later found out that the other party was my guildie! he'd been trying to get me a good deal :D

    However, I didn't know about 'bait & switch' at all. I guess there are many players who assume it's a haggling/bidding type situation when a price is advertised in trade. It does make a certain amount of sense if someone gets 2 or 3 interested parties who all offer more than the original price 'cos they really want it.

    How do you tell the difference or doesn't it matter?

  3. Nice read, but I am not sure how I feel about it. To me, this is supply and demand. He tossed up a number to sell, you didn't have the 11K on you, he changed the price because the demand was there. (or he was baiting and switching, who really knows but him).

    Now this is just 100% my opinion, but opening a ticket on him for changing his price? And then still keeping the ticket in after he sold it to you at the original price? Really? I hope you aren't serious when you said that...

    If you are, then you must have never:

    "undercut" which is manipulation of the economy, against the ToS (now this can take on different situations, so that is a little broad, but you get my meaning).

    "spammed" in /2 is against ToS as well, if you are not selling your wares (i.e general chat- and I believe it's something like once per 5 minutes for the same item, MFC "barks" got a few people clipped believe it or not).

    "or scanned" the AH more than once every 15 minutes (used to be once an hour), once again, also against the ToS.

    If you delete this, I understand, I am not trying to be a dick by any means, but you did ask what I would have done differently, and my answer is:

    The first response to him would have been "I have gold on my other toon, stop advertising, lemme flip over quick, and I will give you the 11K."

    He is obviously new when it comes to advertising in /2 (doubting he is even smart enough to do the b&s), listing just the price instead of "11K OBO".

    Had he done it that way, would that have solved the issue from the beginning?

    Anyways, I really like your blog, the posts always make me think, and no matter what, I will still have you on my blogroll. =)

    Love always,
    ALTOs Gold"ish" Advice- The Worst WoW Blog Ever!

  4. Brouck,

    Here-here, man!! I think every aspiring goblin out there should read this story. You have a right to stand up for yourself. If you interpreted the ToS in good faith to mean that baiting & switching was not cool, then you did the right thing by reporting it. Blizz will decide what to do with it from there.

    Any auctioneer who is good at at his/her job will have to deal with jerks. Don't get too wrapped up in it, but don't just sit back and take it.

  5. There's a difference between "bait and switch" and changing your mind about the price. A true bait and switch would involve luring you in with an item you want and then substituting it for an inferior item, for example, offering the hurricane deck but then trying to sell you an earthquake deck. Looks to me like he just changed his mind about the price, and since the trade hadn't taken place yet, he was well within his rights to do so. You were kind of a bully to threaten him with a GM ticket.

  6. In this case he was obviously trying to lure people in with a lower price then raising it once he saw there was interest. However, in terms of an legal terms this would be considered an "invitation to treat" and NOT a binding contract when you accepted. He was within his right to increase the price, just as you were within your right to walk away.

  7. My comment musta bothered you man. I was just giving you my perspective on your situation (which you asked for in your post).

    Hate me for it if you like, but my comment is how I felt (and still feel). It's a drag I lost a reader to my blog, as you always put up great insight on my posts (and I know my readers enjoyed them based on feedback). You are welcome back anytime brother.


  8. Very interesting situation.

    The seller seems to be more like someone who wants to make a quick buck than a real AH/trade goblin. His approach and reaction gave that away, IMHO. However, that also doesn't change the fact that he tried to pull a fast one on you, although it's more like haggling more than anything (reminds me of buying stuff at a flea market or talking to a car salesman, LOL).

    Personally, I would have walked away from the deal. Well, sort of.

    I would have stayed at 11K firm and walked away right when it went up to 12k. If he did have offers at 12k or more, it's above what I wanted to pay anyway. If he didn't, however, then I just called his bluff and if he reallllly wants a sale, then he will likely come back to me to bargain but w/ me having the upper hand ("I dunno man, 11k is a lot...."). If he doesn't, and you still want to beat around the bush a little, hop on an alt and bargain w/ him that way....your own "bait and switch"......

    Do I sound like a greasy salesman? Maybe. But today's seller may be tomorrow's customer, so I try to stay on good terms. Keep the poker face on and count your gold in private.


  9. Wow, I didn't realise this sort of thing was against the ToS (can you show us where?) but well done you for sticking to your agreed price. Always nice to read your blog.

  10. I'm not sure we have enough information about the chain of events to tell whether your stance was the best approach, but based on how you reported it, I feel you were in the wrong.

    The only part of the Terms of Use that could possibly apply here is under "Section B: Rules Related to 'Chat' and Interaction With Other Players", subsection (vii) which states that "(players may not) Participate in any action that, in the sole and absolute opinion of Blizzard, results or may result in an authorized user of the Game being "scammed" or defrauded out of gold, weapons, armor, or any other items that user has earned through authorized game play in the Game;"

    This situation as described does not come close to creating a potential 'scam' or 'fraud'. The transaction never took place, nor was there risk of your being defrauded--the price was the only issue being negotiated, not the product.

    If he offered the card at 11k and someone without your knowledge wsp'd him "I'll buy for 11.5k"--which is possible--I don't think he would have been forced to honor the 11k price to you even though OBO was not conveyed.

    Similarly, he was not bound to the sale in this fashion. What would your response have been if he said "sorry, I changed my mind"? Open a ticket? What is the complaint? "Hey Blizz this guy offered to sell me something, I agreed and then he changed his mind. Make him sell it to me!". Really?

    Would the seller be within his rights to open a ticket if you had backed out of the sale? The theory you advance suggests he would have just as much right to report you for backing out of the sale after agreeing to the price.

    I encountered a much more devious bait and switch back in late 2010. Just after the Razzashi Hatchling was announced to be going away when Cat hit someone offered to sell one in /trade for 4k gold. I answered yes and invited him to a group. He met me in SW by the fountain and opened a trade window. He put in the pet and I put in the gold, but before I hit "trade" I noticed it was a Ravasaur Hatchling.

    I canceled the trade and asked if he made a mistake. He opened trade again and wsp'd 'sorry man my bad' and put the same pet up. I canceled and asked if had the Razzashi pet and he said 'nvm, someone else will buy it' and dropped group.

    I did open a ticket because this seemed to have an intent to defraud.

    So, I get your point but think you overreacted in this situation. No offense, but I would have just looked the other way.