Rent-A-Center accused of harassing, taking advantage of customers

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Accusing Rent-A-Center of using collection tactics and charging fees just this side of a loan shark, Washington state is asking a judge to declare the practices illegal and halt them.

The allegations are another black eye to the business of renting furniture, electronics and appliances to those who can't otherwise get credit or afford to buy at a regular store.

Instead, those who go to Rent-A-Center and its competitors can get items for what might seem to be an affordable payment that ends up costing them many times the actual price.

Rent-A-Center markets itself as giving opportunity to those who wouldn't otherwise have a chance to get the items it leases and is using the popular retired basketball star Ervin "Magic" Johnson in television spots.

Some examples of what Washington officials say certain items cost consumers who were making weekly payments (payments can be made weekly, biweekly or monthly):

  • $6,594 for a used television
  • $3,585 for a refrigerator
  • $4,073 for a laptop computer

Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna is taking Rent-A-Center to court to try to get the company's collection tactics and rental contracts declared illegal. McKenna asserts Rent-A-Center goes after those who owe with a vengeance -- coming to their homes, threatening customers, their children and harassing relatives and neighbors.

"While companies certainly have the right to collect on outstanding debts, state law, along with the most basic standards of common courtesy, dictate how companies may collect on those debts," McKenna said in a statement. "Attempting to kick doors down, calling the debtor's friends and relatives, and scaring their children aren't included in those basic standards."


California won a $7 million judgment against Rent-A-Center in 2006 over its price disclosure policies. The company settled a class-action case in New Jersey for $109 million after being accused of charging interest in excess of what state law permits.

Rent-A-Center Vice President Xavier Dominicis said the company is getting a bad rap and that the tactics alleged are neither permitted nor tolerated.

"We have a very exacting and exhaustive collection policy in place," he told WalletPop. "We have zero tolerance for non-compliance. We wouldn't allow anything like that. We probably have a more stringent policy about collections that we need to have."

Dominicis said the "much-maligned" rent-to-own business has a place and its success shows that. The complaints, he said, represent a tiny fraction of the company's overall business.

"We make life manageable for everyday Americans," Dominicis said. "It's a week-to-week program so there is no debt. It's a program that has proven very helpful to everyday Americans particularly in a sour economy."

He said many of the calls to customers' homes are to determine whether they intend to keep renting the items. Only 5 percent of all customers, Dominicis said, make every payment and purchase products at the oft-cited extraordinarily high prices.

McKenna's office used the example of Carol Hammons, who said she stopped paying Rent-A-Center to protest renting her ripped and broken furniture. In a sworn statement, the woman said Rent-A-Center employees came to her home, where two girls were watching Hammons' 11-year-old autistic daughter. The employees, she said, refused to leave, told the girls she would be arrested and then told her neighbors personal financial information and accused her of passing bad checks.

The state accused Texas-based Rent-A-Center, which has more than 3,000 stores nationwide, of using abusive language and profanity in its collection efforts -- including referred to customers as "ghetto trash," "deadbeat," and "thief," among others.

Washington officials said Rent-A-Center employees have demanded money from babysitters and others when the customer isn't home, pounded on doors, peered through windows and told children their parents would be thrown in jail if they don't pay up. When challenged by consumers that what they're doing is illegal, Washington officials said Rent-A-Center employees have responded that collection laws that forbid such harassment don't apply to them.

"Because of a loophole in state and federal laws that apply to debt collection, Rent-A-Center employees believe they can use harassing tactics to collect from renters who are late on their payments." Assistant Attorney General Jim Sugarman said.

Rent-A-Center is due to report its second-quarter earnings on Tuesday.
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eb.st

The rent a center in winter park, Florida is so damn tacky and they harass. My mother is in transition from being a teacher to retirement. She told them that all of this would happen to where she would not be able to make payments during a certain time. Well at first she was monthly wish is what she signed up for and then they switched her to biweekly out of nowhere. When her payment was due without notice a man was at our door to collect. We didn't understand why being that we were monthly. I had him wait OUTSIDE while my mother called. The female was very rude and nasty. When I walked back into the living room, the man had let himself in and I wasn't even properly dressed. I called her back and she made it seem like I was a liar and they were more professional than that and my complaint was petty even though my daughter even said he walked in, because my kids aren't allowed to open the doors. Don't know about the others, but that one on university is done!

March 15 2014 at 10:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James Bostrom

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysFiW26MHfQ&feature=player_embedded#t=0s
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfSOmij8tfk&feature=youtu.be
Over the past year, CCSVI Clinic and its researchers and specialists have been studying the Combination venoplasty/autologous stem cell infusion protocol developed by Regenetek Cellular Technologies with the collaboration of outside labs and bioproducts manufacturers. As laboratory techniques gain ever-increasing sophistication based on new scientific methodologies for enhancing somatic cells into preferred lineages in vitro, the therapeutic outcomes for patients with neurological disorders have also been improving. Deb O’Connell who was treated at the Clinic in mid-September, 2012 recovered so quickly from her serious long-term degenerative disease condition that she experienced a wave of improvements while still in the hospital.
It’s a matter of medical record that Deb had been wheelchair bound for 10 years (completely non-ambulatory) with multiple co-morbidities when she entered the program on September 9; she was 9.5 on the EDSS scale as assessed by a neurologist, was down to 80 lbs in body weight, could not breathe effectively, speak, or take in food by mouth due to dysphagia. Her pain was chronic and significant. When she left the Clinic on September 24th , she walked out of the doors and into a waiting van to go to the airport. At the time of her discharge from the Clinic, she could breathe normally, effectively speak once again, eat any types of food she desired and her pain had all but disappeared. At the time of this writing she is back home in Canada and reports that she continues to recover (especially her contractured hands), shows no signs of new disease symptoms, and has gained 18 lbs since her therapies, less than 3 weeks ago. She has now begun a regular physiotherapy program and is gaining walking strength and balance. The recapitulation of the course of her disease (MS) within days, provides evidence that the in vitro requirement of cell pluripotency has correctly been identified with respect to adult cell source origin, time, and manipulation in culture. For more information on the combination therapy protocol and study email to apply@ccsviclinic.ca or call 888-468-1554. http://www.ccsviclinic.ca/?p=1084
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysFiW26MHfQ&feature=player_embedded#t=0s
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfSOmij8tfk&feature=youtu.be

October 12 2012 at 1:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James Bostrom

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysFiW26MHfQ&feature=player_embedded#t=0s
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfSOmij8tfk&feature=youtu.be
Over the past year, CCSVI Clinic and its researchers and specialists have been studying the Combination venoplasty/autologous stem cell infusion protocol developed by Regenetek Cellular Technologies with the collaboration of outside labs and bioproducts manufacturers. As laboratory techniques gain ever-increasing sophistication based on new scientific methodologies for enhancing somatic cells into preferred lineages in vitro, the therapeutic outcomes for patients with neurological disorders have also been improving. Deb O’Connell who was treated at the Clinic in mid-September, 2012 recovered so quickly from her serious long-term degenerative disease condition that she experienced a wave of improvements while still in the hospital.
It’s a matter of medical record that Deb had been wheelchair bound for 10 years (completely non-ambulatory) with multiple co-morbidities when she entered the program on September 9; she was 9.5 on the EDSS scale as assessed by a neurologist, was down to 80 lbs in body weight, could not breathe effectively, speak, or take in food by mouth due to dysphagia. Her pain was chronic and significant. When she left the Clinic on September 24th , she walked out of the doors and into a waiting van to go to the airport. At the time of her discharge from the Clinic, she could breathe normally, effectively speak once again, eat any types of food she desired and her pain had all but disappeared. At the time of this writing she is back home in Canada and reports that she continues to recover (especially her contractured hands), shows no signs of new disease symptoms, and has gained 18 lbs since her therapies, less than 3 weeks ago. She has now begun a regular physiotherapy program and is gaining walking strength and balance. The recapitulation of the course of her disease (MS) within days, provides evidence that the in vitro requirement of cell pluripotency has correctly been identified with respect to adult cell source origin, time, and manipulation in culture. http://www.ccsviclinic.ca/?p=1084
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysFiW26MHfQ&feature=player_embedded#t=0s
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfSOmij8tfk&feature=youtu.be

October 11 2012 at 11:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Leo Voisey

David Summers, a 37 year old MS patient from Murfreesboro, Tennessee was a score of 8.0 on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) when he had the Combination Liberation Therapy and Stem Cell Transplantation at CCSVI Clinic in March of 2012. Having been diagnosed in 1996 he had been in a wheelchair for the past decade without any sensation below the waist or use of his legs.
“It was late 2011 and I didn’t have much future to look forward to” says David. “My MS was getting more progressive and ravaging my body. I was diagnosed as an 8.0 on the EDSS scale; 1 being mild symptoms, 10 being death. There were many new lesions on my optic nerves, in my brain and on my spinal cord. My neurologist just told me: ‘be prepared to deteriorate’. I knew that he was telling me I didn’t have much time left, or at least not much with any quality.” David had previously sought out the liberation therapy in 2010 and had it done in a clinic in Duluth Georgia. “The Interventional Radiologist who did it told me that 50% of all MS patients who have the jugular vein-clearing therapy eventually restenose. I didn’t believe that would happen to me if I could get it done. But I have had MS for 16 years and apparently my veins were pretty twisted up”. Within 90 days, David’s veins had narrowed again, and worse, they were now blocked in even more places than before his procedure.
“I was so happy after my original procedure in 2010. I immediately lost all of the typical symptoms of MS. The cog fog disappeared, my speech came back, the vision in my right eye improved, I was able to regulate my body temperature again, and some of the sensation in my hands came back. But as much as I wanted to believe I felt something, there was nothing below the waist. I kind of knew that I wouldn’t get anything back in my legs. There was just way too much nerve damage now”. But any improvements felt by David lasted for just a few months.
After his relapse, David and his family were frustrated but undaunted. They had seen what opening the jugular veins could do to improve him. Because the veins had closed so quickly after his liberation procedure, they considered another clinic that advocated stent implants to keep the veins open, but upon doing their due diligence, they decided it was just too risky. They kept on searching the many CCSVI information sites that were cropping up on the Internet for something that offered more hope. Finding a suitable treatment, especially where there was no known cure for the disease was also a race against time. David was still suffering new attacks and was definitely deteriorating. Then David’s mother Janice began reading some patient blogs about a Clinic that was offering both the liberation therapy and adult autologous stem cell injections in a series of procedures during a hospital stay. For more information please visit http://www.ccsviclinic.ca/?p=904

June 05 2012 at 5:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ian

I've been renting to own from RAC for over a year now. I pay on a weekly basis. When it comes to the day i'm to pay up, I receive a phone call as a "friendly reminder". There are times that I am not able to pay right that moment so I don't answer my phone. After about 5-10 more calls within the day I finally get to answer and let them know what my situation is. I make an arrangement to pay at a later date and all seems well. The next day I receive another 5-10 calls while at work, and end up with a lot of voice mails. Some of them are people saying that my account is past due and that I need to get it taken care of otherwise they will come and pick up their television. Other messages are just really quiet as if they don't hang up the phone. There has been times that I have actually heard people talking in the background saying profanities towards myself and other customers and then the phone hangs up. Well I set up a date to pay about a week late, and still they continued to call 5-10 times a day and leave messages everyday. While on lunch I have actually called them to let them know that I have made a date to pay them, they apologize and hang up. Thinking that they shouldn't call anymore they do. They even call my family and friends harassing them and asking them for payments.This continued every day until I paid them. and at this point I don't answer my phone to them at all. There have also been times when I asked how much I owe, and when I should be done paying them. The thing is that I was told one amount and a date when I first rented the TV, and after finding out how much I paid to them already and the date I was to be done paying them I was confused. The date no longer matched by about 5 months and my amount was 2 times as much. I understand that there is interest but from what I was told, was that the ending amount included the interest. I told them that that was not what they had told me and proceeded to tell them to look at my contract. They told me that it could not be found and that if I didn't want to pay to just bring back the TV. At this point I have paid them over two thousand dollars for a TV that was told was going to cost me no more than fifteen hundred by the time I got it all paid. And apparently I still owe them close to five hundred dollars. How can this be? I'm completely outraged with this company and quite honestly not surprised to see this article. I was stupid for thinking that even though the TV would cost a little more that it would be worth it because I could make payments on it. The only problem is that it's ending up being one thousand dollars more than what I was told originally. I would just take it back but I gave the TV as a gift so i'm stuck with them until the end.

January 28 2012 at 8:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply