Dishonest Practices, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

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Life in the USA
Public Services II
Consumer Issues

Dishonest Practices
Dishonest practices, rip-offs and scams are, unfortunately, common. If something advertised seems too good to be true, it usually is. It is sometimes difficult for police and local authorities to catch and prosecute merchants who use deceptive advertising to sell inadequate goods and services. Often by the time the police know about these people they have disappeared. It makes sense to shop only in well established, reputable stores, or to buy products with manufacturers' warranties.

“Bait and switch” is the most common dishonest merchant practice. An appealing product will be advertised at a very low price but when you get to the store, they haven't got any left (because they only had three to begin with). You're standing there with a salesperson, and you end up being sold a product at a much higher price since you want to avoid making the trip for nothing. Just remember this: There is tremendous variety and competition in the American marketplace. You'll always be able to get a good price on an item tomorrow if you shop around, despite what the clever salesperson tells you.

Watch out also for “small print” in advertising, and for expensive “add-ons”. For example, home computers are often advertised at low prices which do not include the video monitor (an essential component). The phrase “monitor extra” will be in small print, which you might be too excited to notice when you see the phrase “amazing low price” in large print.


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