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Bait and Switch Tactic

In the book Mind Programming author Eldon Taylor shares his experience selling sewing machines using bait-and-switch:

It started with an offer too good to be true.  In the 1960s credit depended upon a deposit– a down payment of 10% in those days.  Credit was freely available.  Getting the down payment became the most difficult part of making a sale, so the company I worked for designed a system to obtain this fee.

How was this done?  Prospects entered contests.  A drawing at the local grocery store, a “count the hidden faces” challenge in the Sunday paper, and various other media served this purpose.  Someone received a first prize.  Everyone else won second prize, a coupon worth $170 toward the purchase of a new sewing machine, nationally advertised for only $199.99.  We could show these “winners” the ad, usually in a popular home magazine.  For only $29.99 everyone in second place could enjoy the benefits of owning a new sewing machine.  Such a deal!

The machine available for purchase for $29.99 was a piece of junk.  In the trunk of my car, however, was a new, top-of-the-line machine, advertised nationally at $499.  If you were a second-place winner, by trading in the shoddy machine you’d just purchased, this superior model could be yours for an additional $299.  And you’d already paid the 10% deposit of $29.99.  Therefore, you’d only pay $10 per month until you’d paid off the additional $299.  Even though you only spent $29.99 for the first machine, you received its fully nationally advertised price as the trade-in value.  Wow- what a deal!

This means of selling worked so well that it became illegal.  You may have guessed that the national ads existed only for this purpose.  No one ever actually tried to buy one of these machines at the inflated price in the advertisement.


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