One rent-to-own business' ugly side came to light last July when our office sued Rent-a-Center for some unusually aggressive collection tactics – including cussing at customers, pounding on doors, peering in windows and threatening arrest. The company maintains it did no wrong, but agreed to a lengthy list of restrictions on its collection practices as part of a settlement announced today.
Washington’s settlement also makes it easier for customers to know exactly how much they’ll pay for furniture and TVs they take home. MSN Money reports that the rent-to-own business is a booming, $7 billion industry serving more than 3.2 million U.S. households. Bad credit isn’t an obstacle. But customers pay a lot – markups are as much as 400 percent what you’d pay to buy it at a retail store. According to Rent-A-Center, only 25 percent of its customers actually make all the payments and own the items.