Heads Up: Research before Retail Renting-to-Own

By John Voket 


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


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