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Jackie Lynch's Blog

By Jackie Lynch | Broker in Arlington Heights, IL

Heads Up: Research before Retail Renting-to-Own


By John Voket

I know the temptation of wanting something now, even if the cost for that item does not equate with the amount of disposable cash on hand. With so many individuals opting to sign up for 'rent-to-own' programs, this advice from the Better Business Bureau is particularly valuable.

The BBB says rent-to-own stores are popular alternatives to using a credit card, for consumers with a poor credit history or people who don’t want to put down a deposit on merchandise. Today, there are 47 states with legislation that spells out consumers’ rights when engaging in a rent-to-own contract.  

Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receive complaints about rent-to-own stores that do not adequately explain their contracts, delivery of used or damaged goods, and illegal collection practices.

These include having reps show up at consumers’ front doors if a payment is late, placing harassing telephone calls and threatening to call the renter’s employer to report a late or missed payment.

Better Business Bureau recommends consumers take the following precautions before entering into a rent-to-own lease:

  • Take the contract home – Read all terms and conditions carefully before signing.  Determine what fees may be associated with the transaction, who is responsible for repairs or maintenance and what happens after a late or missed payment.
  • Research the company – Visit www.bbb.org to see what other consumers’ experience has been like, the volume of complaints and how they were resolved.
  • Check the law – The Association of Progressive Rental Organizations website, www.rtohq.org, provides links to state laws governing rent-to-own provisions.
  • Consider alternatives – See if you qualify for a short-term loan, retailer financing or a layaway plan. Look for deals on display models and consider buying the item at a garage sale, through a classified ad or at a second-hand store, though this option gives no warranty or maintenance agreement.
  • Keep in mind that the longer the lease, the more you will pay for the item, and like any other purchase, shop around first to compare prices.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

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