Another element to pay attention to when we are navigating on the internet or in our daily lives is tricky offers. How many times have you found yourself thinking “it’s too good to be true!”? Well, chances are, if a commercial offer brings you to think that, it’s probably the case! We all like to feel like we are smart buyers and advertisers know that we want to feel like we’re getting the best deal when we buy something. However, more often than not if we stop for a moment to analyse a commercial offer we can spot some tricks that are thought in order to make the buyer feel like he/she is getting the best deal, also when it is not really the case.
Here are some common examples of these techniques:
- Hidden fees
One of the most common techniques to get buyers hooked on a fantastic-looking deal is hidden fees. From plane tickets to mobile phone plans, from credit cards to gym subscriptions, hidden fees can be found pretty much everywhere. They consist of fees that are not explicitly mentioned in the advertised price of a given commercial offer but that can change it significantly and emerge at the moment of payment or even later. For example, an offer can advertise an extremely low subscription fare or mobile phone plan, which then can turn out to only be true during the first month or so as a promotion price but bind the customer into longer periods of subscription at higher rates. It is therefore very important to always read or enquire about all terms of an offer, about fees and taxes, before deciding to purchase something.
- Bait and switch
The so-called “bait-and-switch” technique consists in advertising an offer for a product that is an incredible bargain in order to attract customers (the “bait”) but then claiming that the said offer has run out of stock and offering the customer a worse product for a higher price. Chances are, the bargain never existed in the first place, but once one has made the trip to the store, they will probably tend to fall for it and buy the other product. This type of scam is especially common with IT objects (TVs, mobile phones, tablets, etc.) as given their high prices, people are always attracted by a good bargain. To protect yourself from this scam, think critically before accepting an alternative product when you find the one you wanted and that was advertised as a great offer ran out of stock: is the product what I was looking for? Is the price good? Do I really need it? These very simple questions can protect our savings in a lot of situations.
- Decoy product
This marketing technique is based on a cognitive bias that is known as “decoy effect”. If a buyer is presented with two options of products, one cheaper and one more expensive, he/she will probably go for the cheaper one. However, when a “decoy product” is introduced, which is clearly a worse deal, the customer will suddenly be more inclined to buy the most expensive one of the first two options, which will look like the best deal. This technique is used very widely, in almost every commerce. To better understand how the decoy effect works, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xevm0i66B_s