To examine Rent-A-Center’s true cost to consumers, NerdWallet collected price information to rent and buy 39 consumer products advertised on the company’s website in August 2017.
NerdWallet cast a wide net when choosing merchandise. We selected a variety of home furnishings, appliances and electronics, from the inexpensive to the high-end.
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Rent-A-Center uses a regional pricing model that’s designed to comply with state laws. The company has potential online customers enter their home ZIP codes to find the nearest Rent-A-Center location before revealing price information.
NerdWallet found that the pricing plan varies little within a state. We collected prices from a sample of stores in each state.
We were able to do this everywhere except Minnesota and Wisconsin. Rent-A-Center operates about four dozen stores under other brand names — “Home Choice” in Minnesota and “Get It Now” in Wisconsin — and neither lists prices online.
For every product surveyed, NerdWallet compared prices against two regular retailers online. In cases where we couldn’t precisely match an item’s model, we found another item from the manufacturer that was nearly indistinguishable from the one being advertised.
In the few cases where Rent-A-Center advertised a bundle of related merchandise as one product, NerdWallet separately priced out the additional items that Rent-A-Center included.
California, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Vermont and West Virginia have consumer laws that restrict the amount a retailer can mark up the wholesale price.
Rent-A-Center leases in New Jersey are subject to laws that govern consumer credit transactions, limiting the effective annual percentage rate for the leased merchandise to 30%.
The article How We Determined Rent-A-Center’s Cost to Consumers originally appeared on NerdWallet.