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Best Buy - Avoiding the Bait and Switch and Other Online Scams

Updated on March 7, 2012

2007 Best Buy Busted! Yes - It is happening in my state - again!

Sign of the times?

In 2007 Best Buy was nearly obliterated due to the practice of the old Bait and Switch. They advertise a sale price but when you get to the cash rip off register the price might be higher than the advertised price. This is what happened to my husband who was shopping with the gentleman that secures and maintains my computer network for my home business.

I needed a new wireless router so Dave, my husband and Richard, the computer genius agreed to meet at Best Buy near our home. When my husband arrived, Richard had already located the router he felt was best and said, "here is what you need and it is on sale for $99.00."

Dave took the product to the register and it rang up for $129.99. My husband said, "Richard, look at that!" while pointing at the total price on the cashier's computer screen.

"Hey, that is on sale for $99.00," he informed the clerk.

"No, that is the wrong one, she said without further investigation. Someone must have set that one down on the shelf, those are sold out."

"No," Richard insisted,. the product code is - - - - - - - - ."

"Yes, but it is the wrong sku (stock keeping unit) number," she insisted.

"Allow me to go get you the sign," Richard said and walked off and quickly returned with the posted sign.

Upon examination, the clerk still insisted that the sku number did not match entirely. You see the numbers at the beginning of the sequence matched, but the trailers added on did not.

"Get the manager, please," Richard said "you guys got into so much trouble in 2007 for the practice of baiting of switching and it looks like they are up to it again," he told my husband making sure to announce it loud and clear.

The manager was quickly summoned and of course it was a misunderstanding! My husband did purchase the product for the advertised $99.00 after the manager asked the two guys to talk with him in the back of the store. Strangely, the manager also asked my husband, "what did the clerk say to you about the sale price not matching up?"

Richard and Dave thought that it was odd that the sales person did not consult any sale ads or ask any questions when the price initially came up 29.00 higher and she seemed well aware of the price discrepancy. Hmmmmmm, that might make a person think this has happened before.

I checked the price online and that product number is listed for $129.00. It appears Best Buy learned something from their past mistakes, instead of advertising the sale prices in writing, they stick a sign up in the store and then do the switch at the cash register. Like an unhealthy germ - it appears to have learned to mutate.

Beware Best Buy - the buck stops here. The economy might be bad but you should have learned back in 2007 that the bait and switch will not work for long. I googled you and found another customer who complained about this in January, 2012. I am linking his complaint below.


The Bait & Switch - How it Works

Advertising Tricks

The internet is the information highway and like most things, we must learn to take the bad with the good. Online scams are prevalent and there are some very clever con artists out there. According to the BBB, people get scammed every day. The "you have won the lottery" scam is still one of the leading scams online.

Businesses and individuals get conned every day. A new popular scam is a phone call or an email from a "friend" who says they have been out of town and lost their wallet, accompanied with a request for a wire transfer to help them out. If anyone you know happens to lose their wallet while out of town, do not send money. Make a few calls first to your friend. Chances are they will have no idea what you are talking about.

Another popular scam is a buyer sending a seller a check in excess of the agreed sale price. When the buyer requests that you just mail them a check for the difference sound the alarm bells and hang up the phone. Even if you can initally cash the very professional looking check - it will eventually bounce and the account holder that deposited the funds will be responsible for paying the bank back.

Decode Advertising Messages


Submit a Comment

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Hi Kelly, I really appreciate this hub. It's such a reminder on how easy it is to be scammed out of your money and identity for that matter while shopping online. I've bookmarked this one. Voted up, awesome, and tweeted! Take care, Kelley

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Sharyn - thank you! Oh I know they never make it easy to return anything. I am slightly offended when I return something that has not ever been opened for instance - and they make me fill out a form with my life history. The didn't care about all that stuff when they sold me the product - suddenly they need to know my mother's maiden name to exchange a t shirt with tags, you know? lol Yeah - I feel like they rip people off if they can! Too bad because if they would be the most honest store in town - their business would triple and then they could make an honest buck like the rest of us.

  • Sharyn's Slant profile image

    Sharon Smith 

    6 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

    Great hub and comments as well Kel!!! I have always been leery of Best Buy mainly because years ago when they were "new" - they gave me such a run around when trying to return something. And I've never forgotten how frustrating that was.

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Angela - I am so bad about not checking my receipts - and I'm afraid I'm noticing more funny errors as the economy tanks. I really do need to start checking - I went out to lunch with my mom - and later I got the receipt out of my purse and noticed they charged me 3 bucks for something I didn't order or eat! Lol. Tonight my daughter stopped in to visit and noticed I had a Victoria's secret bag - she asked if I'd gotten my $10 card for spending more than $50 - and I didn't - she checked m receipt and said well they scanned it in, so they kept your 10 dollar gift card! Now that's a pretty good scam:). So yep - I need to watch out too! Lol

  • Angela Kane profile image

    Angela Kane 

    6 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

    I always check the prices of products at the cash register to make sure they show the correct price. This is the first time I am hearing about this type of scam from stores. Thanks for letting me know, I will be checking my purchases and prices more closely in the future especially at Best Buy. Voted up and useful.

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Daffy - yeah I agree. I do think they are trying to "slip a mickey" when nobody is looking! I wonder how much money they made versus the - think it was $350,000 - they had to pay back in 2007? I suppose if the risk is worth the reward?

    Thanks Daffy:)

  • Daffy Duck profile image

    Daffy Duck 

    6 years ago from Cornelius, Oregon

    Some people learn the wrong thing from their mistakes. I'll have to keep a close eye on prices from now on.

    THX! :)

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hey Alastar - good to see you:)

    Bait and switch is illegal - but it is really hard to prove these occurrences are not "accidents". Too many accodents make me the clerk already being aware the sku was wrong?? How many times does a checker encounter this error before they go ahead and stop putting the product back in front of that sign? Just saying...? lol

    I hate getting ripped off - and why I tend to like to write about scams:) lol I just got ripped off by a roofing and siding business.....the guy came by to pick up the check...and he just kind of casually said "oh yeah, just make it out to me" well he was standing there waiting and watching and I didn't think much of it...till I found out he high tailed it to Florida with my check! Seriously - I fell for that! Dave is not thinking I am very smart right now:) LOL

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hey Frog - Having a small business alone (not to mention the 3 girls that love every new electronic gadget) I have shopped there a lot! I am disappointed with the service here and since the guy in the clip refers only to one area, I wondered if there was a regional difference?

    Thanks for the visit - always good to see ya:) lol

  • Alastar Packer profile image

    Alastar Packer 

    6 years ago from North Carolina

    Bait and switch is supposed to be against the law I thought. Good warnings here Kelly and sorry about your hubby's prob at BB but let's just say back in the late nineties I was part of something that turned up some unethical practices at, ahem, a certain Big Box retailer, so this comes as no surprise.

  • The Frog Prince profile image

    The Frog Prince 

    6 years ago from Arlington, TX

    RHW - Why those sneaky little rascals. Y'all just point em out to me and I'll dispense a whooping that Ajax won't take off.

    BTW. Best Buy is one of my favorite haunts.

    The Frog

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Lord! LOL I bet that's impressive with the tree of you all jumping and hopping around the car:) haha! Wow - good to know you drive too - I'll be on the lookout for you! Thank you for the heads up!

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Drbj - I know they have lots of overhead to cover but the greed is outrageous! Hh Gregg? Never heard of that either...we have had a few huge electronics stores in my state that have gone out of business for these practices, you'd think they would learn.

    The first HH Gregg I see - I'm gonna walk right in and shout "Hey everybody! Drbj sent me, and here I am!" LOL. Thank you! I bet that would be an attention getter:)

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 

    6 years ago from New York

    Lol! I feel riped off just by driving around their parking lot, you know? The vibes against the trinity.

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Writer20 - we do not have a Fry's - too bad for us! Good to know there's an honest one out there though. Thanks so much!

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Ruchira! I work from home - so usually I order stuff online. Like toner and stuff like soon as I use one I buy another spare, like that if I can. We don't have a Fry's here...never heard of that!

    Thanks and just check the receipts! Lol

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Cardisa - oh wow are you serious? I furred our economy is in such a slump - some are just trying to recoup their losses dollar by dollar.

    I don't think I'd fall for that one either....I would always double check if I heard a friend or relative had lost money ... It has gotten a lot of people though! Lol. Thanks so much!

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 

    6 years ago from south Florida

    Best Buy and other stores can sell merchandise below cost (loss leaders) and still make money, Kelly, with the service plans that are overpriced, overrated and unnecessary. When they try to scam their customers, they are just cutting their own throat. Shop HH Gregg instead for the 'best buys.' Just tell them I sent you.

  • writer20 profile image

    Joyce Haragsim 

    6 years ago from Southern Nevada

    If you have a Fry's Computer Store there, they are the most honest sales people I've Ever met.

  • Ruchira profile image


    6 years ago from United States

    Wonderful hub since we all get hit by this kind of scenario once in a while...I am more of a fry's kinda person. Best Buy luckily being far from my place...avoid going...Thank goodness! lol

    sharing it and voting up with u/i

  • Cardisa profile image

    Carolee Samuda 

    6 years ago from Jamaica

    There is a supermarket scam here where they add on a dollar on your items especially if your cart is full. Here is Jamaica a dollar is not very noticeable because of the value of the dollar compared to the US. A loaf of bread is $235, they make it $236. And they do it with most items. I had to stop shopping at one location because my bill got higher each week.

    I had no idea about the Friend lost a wallet scam. I can't imagine being caught with that one.

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Writer David - yeah I'm not sure how they get away with it so much. It's harder now but they find tricky ways to take advantage of people who either do not know better or are not paying attention. In some cases - I do not already know about how much my bill should be when I get to the counter - if I have several items I may not notice until later when I scrutinize the receipt at home....I just wonder how many people are not aware!

    The BBB had gotten lots of complaints about them!

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi SW!

    Omg! That is so smart of the Japanese men! Lol. Yeah women know how to plan and plan ahead! If I turned my husband loose with a credit card ? Wel that would just be dumb! Lol lol. I may consider breaking it down a bit and shelling out an allowance! Haha! I won't tell him you tipped me off:)

    Thanks so much!

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Oh Stacy I have seen that at Walmart also! I always check the stickers to match the codes and the price even before I choose now because lots of times they just aren't in the right place or there's things that have been moved everywhere with one item left. I do take advantage of this price checkers they have in some stores too! But I would have been like you in this situation...not finding out until you get to the counter? I'd have not even noticed until I got home if I bothered to check that!

    I think they count on just slipping things through. I've noticed with our economy being so bad - it has gotten worse!??? Hmmmmm

  • Writer David profile image

    Writer David 

    6 years ago from Mobile, AL

    I'm not sure how Best Buy is able to stay in business with this type of practice. It appears they are taking a page right out of Tony Soprano's playbook. I rarely buy from Best Buy. They have never lived up to their name as you succinctly pointed out. My first step would be to file a complaint with the BBB against them. After that, I would file a complaint with the FTC. They may ignore the BBB. But, I guarantee you they will NOT ignore the FTC.

  • Spirit Whisperer profile image

    Xavier Nathan 

    6 years ago from Isle of Man

    There are no lies on you RealHousewife!

    Q:Do you know why the Japanese economy is so strong?

    A:Because women control the money. They even give their

    husbands lunch money everyday as they go to work. They

    don't use credit cards, only deal in cash and only

    purchase what they can afford. If they don't have

    enough in the bank they wait until they do!

    Great hub as ever!

  • barbergirl28 profile image

    Stacy Harris 

    6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

    Ok... you got me thinking how many other stores are doing this. Now maybe this isn't a bait and switch thing... but when we first moved into the house we are currently in we needed a garbage can. The sign above the garbage can read 9.99... when I took it to the register... it rang up as 16.99. Now first off... I really didn't want to spend that much on a garbage can. After all, you are just throwing garbage in it. But, I also really needed that garbage can and I was too exhausted to hault the cashier and go pick out a different one. They just denied it straight up and charged me the higher price. This was at Walmart - now it wasn't an advertised sale... but it was still the price above the product. You can't tell me that some consumer switched several garbage cans to mix things up. And I also thought it was Wal-mart policy to give you the price that it says on the shelf. They did neither. But it just goes to show how fishy some places are. Thanks for the warning on Best Buy... I don't shop there often and if I go back again I will be very careful.

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Great point T.R. Brown - thank you so much! I do hate that - and I was laughing with one of the BB clerks at Christmas time - I was purchasing - I swear - a hot dog toaster affair:) lol It was like 14.99 and the plan was about the same price! Now first of all - it was kind of a gag but now they want me to buy a protection plan for my weiner toaster? lol lol

    Thanks so much - it is irritating!

  • T. R. Brown profile image

    T. R. Brown 

    6 years ago from Nashville, TN

    RealHousewife, it's not just the price either. I can't stand being asked to purchase the extra protection plan for every item you buy. Let me think about this. I can pay $35 for an extra year of warranty coverage on this $100 electronic device that is already covered for a year by the manufacturer. And oh by the way, it will be worth about $30 bucks in a year once the manufacturer’s warranty expires so I am insuring against the potiential loss of $30 in value for $35 today. I guess some folks just have trouble with saying no, or maybe they just aren't very good with math.

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Austin - oh they do put the pressure on with the "oh you need this and you need that" and then at the register "you need the plan!" Last time - one of the BB employees told me quietly "Do NOT buy the plan on this!" haha! I was like thanks but I never do. Most of the time there is a loop hole anyhow...I heard from the - I believe Clark Howard show - most of the times those plans are a total rip!

    I learn everything the hard way - glad I wasn't shopping because I really would have thought nothing of it probably and listened to their explanation. I bet they were shocked when Richard just let the product code roll off his tongue like that...he is a whiz! He always price shops for us himself...uses price and nextag to price everything for the lowest cost! Thanks so much I didn't know they called that upselling but it should be criminal!

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Susan - ohhh and you are in MO too! I swear you are right - and like I said up there - they count on some people being too intimidated to press the issue. If I had been the one with the router in hand - I would have questioned it and then just said, "oh ok" and probably would have ponied up with the extra 30. I probably would have accepted that it was an error on my part - but my computer guy was annoyed - he had issues with them before and knew what was up! I can use that extra 30 in my pocket!

    I also wonder why I am not getting the rewards payback just sort of went away and I sometimes would get like 30 bucks! I buy a lot of equipment there and electronics but I will be extremely careful if I go there again myself!

    Thanks so much for the votes and shares!

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Susan - yeah I hate when I have to argue for the sale price too. I think they count on some of us being too intimidated to question things at the register while other people are waiting.

    I would keep going to the closer stores! Or call BB in advance to double check the price and get a managers name before you take the drive! Thank you!

  • Austinstar profile image


    6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    Oh carp, I think we were conned big time the last time we went to Best Buy. We bought a bunch of stuff because they kept telling us we needed this to go with that and something else that would boost the power or reception or something. And I had to insist over and over that NO, we did not want the service/extended warranty carp either! That's called upselling and it's a scam too.

    I hate to have to learn things the hard way. Wish I had read this hub first.

  • sholland10 profile image

    Susan Holland 

    6 years ago from Southwest Missouri

    Hey Kelly! We have had Best Buy do the same thing to us. I started copying every online advertisement and taking the flyer in. There is always the short little argument. It ends when I say, "Let's go to the computer." They type it in as I give them the address, and THERE IT IS!!

    I have never had one of the checks bounce before, but if I did, I'd be marching into that store with all the paperwork.

    The problem is that these big companies think that we will not check on what is going on. I would venture to say they count on it. I have let the phone stay on speaker for 3 hours before waiting for customer service. THEN they really get an earful, especially since I can't get rid of the annoying music in my head that plays over and over. Man, I am getting angry!! Where is the "moving" button. You have moved me. LOL

    Great hub! VOTES AND SHARES!

  • Just Ask Susan profile image

    Susan Zutautas 

    6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Thanks for the heads up on Best Buy. I don't usually shop there as it's quite a drive for me to get to one, but I have had similar experiences other places. I argue with them until I get the sale price and if I don't I walk away and shop elsewhere.

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Millianaire - I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt too - but my computer guy says he is pretty sure they are scamming. He is a super smart guy - had memorized that item number on the sale sign so they simply added a few digits onto the sku and hoped it would pass muster. But - as long as it happened I figured I would do my part to try to keep them honest:) lol

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Alecia - thank you. They are very sneaky! My husband was just saying he was listening to Howard Stern - and his side kick Robin, was recently nearly scammed with the scam "I am a friend in need and lost my wallet!" lol She received a fake email from the "sister" of a co-worker. Sheesh you have to be on your toes!

  • Millionaire Tips profile image

    Shasta Matova 

    6 years ago from USA

    It is important to be vigilant at the cash register no matter which store you are in, and to insist that they give the item to you at the price you expected. I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt and call it a mistake, but these things do happen.

  • Alecia Murphy profile image

    Alecia Murphy 

    6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

    I'm surprised at how sneaky they are with this stuff. I went in there about a month ago and it was a ghost town. It partially had to do with the fact we just got an HH Gregg with some good deals there so people are willing to go further for a better deal. I'm definitely going to be careful going there from now on if I decidedly go back. Thanks for sharing this information!

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Lord! Funny - they would be better known as Best Scam! I also realized they have not been sending me that little incentive cash back reward check anymore from the rewards club. I need stuff, you know? I did buy my last camera and laptop there but it will be the last!

    Thanks and I know between the three of you - you'd never get the scam! lol Thanks so much:)

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 

    6 years ago from New York

    Please Kelly you have to be considerate with the Franchise, do you know how much would cost to switch their sings from 'BEST BUY' to 'BEST SCAM'? Only Walmart can afford to change that star and logo. I don't buy movies anymore and my last buying from them was this digital camera. Great info by the way!


  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Tammy!! - I know they do that on purpose...I think they just leave like 1 too so you will think you may have the last one! lol The sku number scam:) lol

    Thanks a bunch - and yeah - keep your eyes on the receipts at the BB! They hope you just don't notice!

  • tammyswallow profile image


    6 years ago from North Carolina

    Great hub. I just bought a movie there that was supposed to be $19.00 and at check out it was $29.00. Luckily I caught it, I didn't want it that bad. Now it has me thinking if it really was in the wrong spot or not. We must always protect ourselves as the consumer. This helps!


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