By, Aaron M. Swift, Esq.
A bait-and-switch generally occurs when a company or companies advertise goods or services at an apparent bargain, with the intention of substituting inferior or more expensive goods or services at the time of sale. Sam’s Club and American Express may be engaging in such conduct to increase their profits, but to the detriment of consumers’ pocket books.
First, American Express sends a “Day Pass to Savings,” seen to the right, to a cardmember. The consumer may use this one-day pass at a local Sam’s Club without paying the Sam’s Club annual membership fee. The apparent “bargain” for the consumer is being able to take advantage of Sam’s Club’s wholesale prices without paying for a membership. Sam’s Club thus benefits and profits from the additional customers, and American Express benefits and profits if the consumer uses their American Express card to make the purchases. Unfortunately for the consumer, the “Day Pass” may actually be a bait-and-switch.
Specifically, the bargain Day Pass includes a disclaimer that “[u]sers of day passes do not qualify for all the benefits as an annual member;” however, the Day Pass does not specify which benefits are excluded. Additionally, the Day Pass states that “American Express and Sam’s Club are offering you access to even more savings” as you will receive “shopping access without the 10% non-member surcharge.” In some of our clients’ experience, however, Sam’s Club is in fact charging the 10% non-member surcharge at times notwithstanding the Day Pass disclaimers. In other words, Sam’s Club and American Express offer this “bargain” but yet may be charging an extra 10% surcharge to hundreds or thousands of consumers. Such conduct, if proven, may qualify as a deceptive or unfair trade practice in violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Florida Statutes, Chapter 501. This law is better known as FDUTPA.
LeavenLaw’s consumer protection attorneys are committed to fighting unfair and deceptive trade practices, including false advertising and bait-and-switch schemes pursuant to FDUTPA. If you or someone you know have been victimized by Sam’s Club and American Express, or other false advertising and bait-and-switch schemes, give us a call today for a free consultation. You may also visit us online at www.LeavenLaw.com or call 1-855-Leaven-Law (1-855-532-8364).