Fun With Rent-A-Center

I posted this on the site but thought I’d have better luck here.

This is the verbatim transcription of the terms of Rent-A-Center renting you a 60″ TV and a 32″ TV for $29.99 a week currently on my teevee.

I’d really like a law-talkin’ guy to FWRAC this.

The amount of wrong in this agreement is simply satanic:

“Rental Purchase/Lease transaction. ‘Pay as you go’ refers to customer’s choice of weekly, semi-monthly or monthly payments. Rate and term will be determined on new agreement based on item selected. Ownership is optional and requires payment of total cost or early purchase option (‘EPO’). ‘No credit needed’ agreement requires verification of residence, income and four personal references. Bundle offers reduce weekly rates when compared to weekly rates for renting bundled items separately. Bundle offers will not reduce total amount necessary to acquire ownership or purchase-option amounts. Only select items may be bundled; some items excluded. $29.99/wk., max 127 weeks, max total cost $3,808.73. GA/PA cost of lease services $1808.75, WV retail value $1,489.12; WV RTO Charge $2,049.70. MA & RI: EPO is 80% of remaining rent. In VT, 18 week minimum applies and 90 days same as cash is not available. See store for details.”

Wow.

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15 thoughts on “Fun With Rent-A-Center

  1. Basically, contracts like this fuck over the poor, and they are too poor or uneducated to do anything about it. There are a few legal protections out there to avoid contracts like this. First, all states have some sort of a ceiling under consumer protection statutes as to how much a person can pay in interest on consumer goods (There is a Jersey case on it if you really want to get indepth: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/nj-supreme-court/1098160.html). Second, there is the common law (i.e. court defined rules, not statutory) doctrine of “unconscionability.” An unconscionable contract is one that has “terms that are so extremely unjust, or overwhelmingly one-sided in favor of the party who has the superior bargaining power, that they are contrary to good conscience.” An unconscionable contract or contract term will be held to be unenforceable because “no reasonable or informed person would otherwise agree to it.” I think most people would see this contract that way.

    HOWEVA, the people that typically enter into rent-a-center contracts already don’t have a good credit rating, and wouldn’t be able to even get a credit card. So they want a TV and the only place to get one is rent-a-center under these fucking ridiculous terms. What happens with most of the customers is that they default on the payment, and rent-a-center probably doesn’t sue them under the contract because you can’t get blood from a stone, so instead they repo the TV, which is usually worthless, and report the customer to credit agency. The poor person’s credit is then further destroyed, so the vicious cycle continues. These scumbags make most of their money off of older people with social security or pension that don’t know better and end up paying of the entire contract. Unfortunately, most rent-a-center customers are too poor or uneducated to do anything about it. In conclusion, USA! USA! USA!

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    1. There is a Supreme Court case on unconscionability as well. I am sure rent-a-center’s attorneys are very aware of the case law and state usury statutes as well, so the draft these contracts so they go as far as they possibly can without being illegal. The Supreme Court case, of course, was an extreme example. Here is Wikipedia’s description of it:

      “The leading case for unconscionability in the United States is Williams v. Walker-Thomas Furniture Co., in which the defendant, a retail furniture store, sold multiple items to a customer from 1957 to 1962. The extended credit contract was written so that none of the furniture was considered to be purchased until all of it was paid for. When the plaintiff defaulted and failed to make payments on the last item of furniture, the furniture store attempted to repossess all of the furniture sold since 1957, not just the last item. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals returned the case to the lower court for trial to determine further facts, but held that the contract could be considered unconscionable and negated if it was procured due to a gross inequality of bargaining power.”

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      1. I always love to hear from the KSK bar association! True, usually it’s alcohol, but an educational response like this is always appreciated!

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      2. I helped out a lady in California a few years ago before I moved with something similar. Her adult daughter got a TV from rent-a-center, and signed up using her mother’s information. Rent-a-center went after the mother even though the signature was clearly not hers. We got the collection agencies off of her back, but it still dinged her credit. Rent-a-center is the devil.

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  2. I’ve always thought these places were a legalized way to steal from poor people (as if we needed another one.) They’re right up there with payday loan houses. Burn ’em down.

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      1. I have not, but my new job is in Rundle Mall, so I expect I will be there sooner rather than later!

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      1. Actually nothing but the poor and the desperate.

        Because if you aren’t poor and/or desperate you’re not playing the lottery.

        Or Rent-A-Center.

        Stupid rich people don’t play the lottery.

        Or Rent-A-Center.

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      2. I sort of agree, but at least with a lottery there’s nothing deceptive about it. The odds are the odds. And while the expected value for a lottery ticket is extremely low, that’s offset by the low cost. Losing $1 in the lottery isn’t hitting anyone where it hurts the same way that spending $1000 on a TV you don’t even own does.

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      3. I’ve always said that it’s a penalty for being bad at math, but I admit I by a ticket every once in a while when the jackpot gets big. Basically I look at it as a $1 charge for a 5 minute daydream. It’s usually when I’m on my way home in the morning from a 12 hour shift.

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    1. My brother, a long long time ago, worked at a Rent-A-Center location in South Central Los Angeles. He can confirm that this company is the one of the biggest scams/ripoffs that exist out there.

      Incidentally, he quit shortly after being hired because the company expected him to go to someone’s house in the hood and demand payment and take the TV if they refused.

      Yeah, good luck with that!

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