What constitutes "bait and switch" regarding a car sale?
Test drove SUV on a Saturday. Called the following Saturday and wanted to take it over night and have the car inspected independently. Car salesman agreed but had to check with manager. After saying it was OK, they back pedaled; 2 phones calls later they said that the car was sold ; they then tried to get me to buy a more expensive SUV. A month later the same SUV was online for sale on 3 major auto sites as a "new listing". I contacted sales rep and he said the car was not there. I forwarded him the links and he assured me it was not there. I really wanted the SUV. Is this bait and switch and what are my options?
Bait and switch is when they show you car A, then in some fasion trick you or coerce you into buying car B, when you never would have bought car A in the first place. Since you did not actually buy a different car, this is not actually bait and switch and you haven't been damaged.
This is probably a case that the dealership acted unethically, but possibly not illegally--or at least not in a way that gives you any effective remedy. It's certainly not impossible that the SUV in question was either "sold" or being held for someone who had put a deposit down, for example. Even if you *could* show that the dealership, without justification, refused to sell you the firs SUV to try to get you to buy a different one, since you did not suffer any monetary damage, the most you could do would be to sue them to get a court order forcing them to sell you the SUV at the originally advertised price-and it's highly doubtful that bringing a lawsuit to do that would be worthwhile (you can't bring a suit like this in small claims court, for example, so your costs would be higher). This may be a situation where you count yourself luckly for not doing business with unethical people and go car shopping elsewhere.