Rob heard about a great deal at Target: the retailer was running a sale and an iPhone trade-in deal for one weekend only. He made a trip over only to find that the deal was on, but there were no AT&T phones to be had.
This past weekend, Target advertised in their weekly circular the offer of a price of $150 on all iPhone 5s and a trade-in opportunity for further discounts. The sale ends on Saturday. I have visited my Target store in [redacted] 3 times and have been told they have not received their shipment of AT&T iPhones (specifically mentioned in the ad).
The salesperson informed me they “hoped” to get them in by Saturday. Given that I am out of town on Saturday, I inquired how the offer will be handled when I arrived and the phones were back in stock. I was told that was an issue “with Target” and there would be nothing that could be done.
So, advertise a phone you don’t have, get customers to come back to shop the store 3 times in a week and don’t correct a problem resulting from Target’s supply. Of course, “they can’t give the contact information to someone who could address the issue.”
This would be a bait and switch situation only if once people were in the door to ask about the iPhone deal on AT&T, Target employees said, “Well, those are out of stock, but we can get you a Sprint or Verizon iPhone. Or how about this nice Lumia for your AT&T plan?”
In this situation, it’s not a bait and switch and it’s not malicious false advertising, because there’s nothing that Target is actually trying to sell to customers like Rob. The salesperson sort of shrugged and didn’t try to sell Rob anything. A manager or someone at corporate might be able to authorize a raincheck for that phone price, and maybe this employee just wasn’t aware of that.