New TV for the Superbowl? Don’t Fumble with Rent to Own.

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It was an OT field goal that sent the New Orleans Saints into Superbowl XLIV. On February 7th, the Colts will faceoff against the Saints–but fans are already partying, “big easy” style.

Already making plans with a party of your own? Of course watching the big game on a new 60″ plasma would be great, but be careful if you’re thinking about finding one cheap at a rent-to-own place.

The ads are catchy and seem like a good idea, “Rent to own a 50-inch plasma TV in easy, affordable installments”.

So if low cost and convenience are the attraction, what’s the problem? Simple: price. According to a survey by the US Public Interest Research Group, by the time they complete their purchase, rent-to-own customers typically pay up to 5 times retail value.

Just need it for a day? Not so fast. Stores like Rent-A-Center require a minimum of a 4-week rental period. Which means game night at your house could have you sacked with more than you bargained for. According to a Rent-A-Center spokesperson, the one month minimum service is required to cover a truck and two employees to deliver and setup the television. However, if you have a truck and a friend–why would you pay someone to move the unit for you?

If you really must use a rent-to-own be careful. Ask questions like:

  • Are there going to be taxes and/or fees on top of your payments?
  • Will there be late charges?
  • If you do pay late, do you break your contract and have to start over?
  • What if your stuff is lost or stolen or breaks? Who’s responsible?
  • What other payment options are available?

Better ideas to get a TV for less?

  • Use Lay-aways
  • Check scratch and dent sections at electronic stores
  • Watch for garage and estate sales
  • Buy a display model
  • Don’t buy a new TV yet: meet up with friends at a sports bar

Oh, and here’s one more idea: it won’t happen before this superbowl, but you can enter to win a 40″ HDTV from Money Talks News. Click here to learn how.

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Comments & discussion

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  • RAC employee

    Jim – since I work at Rent-A-Center, want to correct a little misinformation. For short term rentals of our biggest screen TVs, we require only four weeks of payments (not 18 weeks). The four-week minimum is mostly because we have to use a big truck and two of our people to set it up and then we come back again and pick up the TV when the customer’s done with it. Delivery and pick-up's included in that four-week price. You posted great questions for customers to ask when renting. Here are a few more if customers are looking to own the item: “What other payment options are available?” At RAC, I think only about 5% of our customers achieve ownership of products by paying the minimum payments for the longest time allowed. Most choose 90 day same as cash or other early payout options which means they end up paying a lot less. And, “What happens if I return my item and want to re-rent it in the future?” I know that all rental companies don’t work this way, but with us, people don’t lose what they paid in. They can pick up payments where they left off.

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