Three reasons why the Bait and Switch is downright evil

Have you, as a job seeker, experienced the bait and switch? Have you been called by a recruiter, invited in for an interview, only to find out that the “marketing” role was to sell Ginsu Knives?

evil person

I recall the Skype session I had with a woman like it was yesterday. I also recall how angry I was because it was your typical bait and switch. The woman, who I’ll call Joan, told me she had some referrals for me. I, not knowing better, believed her and was waiting with anticipation for the our Skype session to begin.

We arranged a time to talk. She sent me an email to put our “date” on my Google calendar. I told my wife I couldn’t pick up the kids at school. Would she mind leaving work early to get them? Yes, she reluctantly agreed.

The session began with small talk. Joan asked me what I do for work, even wanted to hear my personal commercial. Her inquiries were making this conversation sound legit. Why would she refer someone to me if I didn’t know what I do?

There were plenty of people who needed help with their resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Joan was overloaded with work and needed to know who to send to me; she would handle her core customers. Things were sounding good.

Would there be a referral fee, I asked. No, she said. There were other ways I could help her….

That’s when the conversation started to take a turn. At that point Joan told me to type in a website. What I saw in front of me was a website displaying hygienic products for men and women. My confusion lasted but a second, before I realized what was happening.

The bait and switch.

I gave Joan way too much time to explain the products to me before I told her that I was sorry; I was not interested in what she was selling, what she wanted me to sell.

She asked me why. There was soo much money to make, and all from the comfort of my own home. She could teach me. The marketing material is included, she ended.

No, sorry.

How much time had I wasted? Twenty minutes. I inconvenienced my wife, who had to leave work early to pick up the kids. I felt like I’d been had. To say I felt violated would be too strong. I’m sure, though, that many people have felt violated by the bait and switch.

Some of my clients have told me they’ve been contacted by recruiters who have asked them cursory questions until grilling them about some of their LinkedIn connections. The recruiters raised their hopes; all along they knew my clients were not a fit. The recruiters were only after my clients’ connections.

The bait and switch is evil

1. It’s dishonest. One thing I can honestly say is that I don’t go back on my promises to my kids. I believe in honesty. Ye who does the bait and switch must know there’s something inherently dishonest in promising one thing and delivering another. Think about how you didn’t renege on a promise to your kids.

Honesty is an important trait in an individual. Many employers seek honest employees, people they can trust to carry out the work required of them. When employees are dishonest, their bosses lose trust in them. The same holds true for employers; when they go back on a promise, it leaves a sour tasted in their employees’ mouth.

2. It hurts the violator’s reputation. I will never conduct business with Joan again. In fact, I’ve dropped her from my network. The taste she left in my mouth was so bitter that I can’t ever see interacting with her.

If anyone goes out of their way to ask about Joan, what choice do I have but tell the truth? None. I can only tell whomever asks to run for the hills. This woman’s reputation is definitely tarnished.

3. It gives sales a bad name. You don’t have to be a sales person to sell. We’re all salespeople because we all persuade. But once you persuade someone to listen to what you have to say and deliver another product, you give the art of selling a bad name.

Be honest. In your email, direct LinkedIn message, in an interview, or on the phone. Ask the person, in my case, “I have a pyramid scheme I’d like you to participate in. Are you interested?” This message is direct and doesn’t reek of a stereotypical used car salesman.

Recently I was shopping for cars for my daughter. We saw a Volkswagen Jetta listed on Carfax being sold at a car dealership 20 minutes from our home. My daughter was very excited. I called the dealership and specifically asked if the car was available. The woman who answered the phone told me it was.

You guessed it. When my daughter and I arrived, the sales manager met us on the lot with, “To make a long story short, the car is at a different location. But there are similar cars on our lot.”

I responded with, “To make this short, we’re leaving.” My daughter didn’t understand my abruptness and why I was mean to the sales manager. She said, “That’s so rude.” I told her that we just got a bait and switch.

“Baited and Switched? What does that mean?” she asked.

“It means someone tells you one thing and does another. Just like what happened now. It’s evil.”

“It sucks,” she said.

“Yes it does. Yes it does.”

Have you been the victim of a bait and switch? I’d love to hear your story.

Photo: Flickr, Rob DePaolo


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