The rent-to-own industry (also known as the rental-purchase industry) consists of dealers that rent furniture, appliances, home electronics and jewelry to consumers. Rent-to-own transactions provide immediate access to household goods for a relatively low weekly or monthly payment, typically without any down payment or credit check.
A number of consumer protection concerns have been raised about the rent-to-own industry by consumer advocates. The areas of concern have included the prices charged by the industry (which can be two to three times retail prices, and sometimes more), the treatment of customers during the collection of overdue rental payments, the repossession of merchandise after customers have paid substantial amounts toward ownership, the adequacy of information provided to customers about the terms and conditions of the rental agreement and purchase option, and the disclosure of whether merchandise is new or used.
A 60-inch Mitsubishi television, selling for $949 on Amazon.com and $999 at any Best Buy Store, costs more than $8,700 when purchased over 26 months at Rent-A-Center.
Alternatives To Purchasing At A Rent-To-Own Store
- Wait and buy the item when you have saved enough money to pay cash.
- Try to buy the item through installments or layaway at a department or appliance store.
- Get a short-term consumer loan from a credit union or bank.
- Buy the used item from a garage sale, classified ad or secondhand store.
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