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Dissatisfied car buyers weren't victims of bait and switch scheme, Pa. court finds

It’s not a bait and switch scheme if you knowingly swallow the bait.

That’s what a state Superior Court panel found recently in refusing to revive a deceptive business practices lawsuit by a pair of dissatisfied car buyers.

The case involves what happened in February 2013 when Thomas and Dianne Kirwin went to the Sussman Mazda dealership in Montgomery County after seeing a 2012 SUV advertised for sale at $23,991.

When they got to the dealership, they were told the ad – and the window sticker on the vehicle – were in error due to a computer glitch, and that the sale price actually was $26,980, Judge Anne E. Lazarus noted in the state court opinion. The salesman offered them a free two-year maintenance package as compensation for the mistake.

The Kirwins bought the SUV at the higher price, then sued Sussman, claiming the dealership had violated the state’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law by running a bait and switch ad scam.

Lazarus, however, agreed with an earlier ruling by county Judge Carolyn Tometta Carluccio, who dismissed the couple’s complaint after concluding there was no fraud.

The simple fact, Lazarus observed, citing Carluccio, is the Kirwins still bought the SUV after they were advised of the actual higher price. No one coerced them, since they had two functioning cars, she added, so they could simply have walked away.

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