Friday, August 20, 2010

The High Price of Instant Gratification

I'm going to do something a little different with this clip, because it would be way too easy to snark on Troy Aikman and Hulk Hogan shamelessly picking up a few extra dollars shilling for a company that preys on people with crappy or no credit. Instead, I'll note that Aikman and Hogan are really just the cute magician's assistants in an impressive act of Sleight of Hand- clearly, the viewer is supposed to be so distracted by the fact that a couple of washed-up familiar names are talking about Rent A Center to notice how truly horrible the "deal" being offered "for a limited time" is.

Rent A Center is so confident that you will keep your eyes on Aikman and Hogan that they feel perfectly safe in presenting the full financial details of the "deal" in not-so-very-small print for almost five full seconds on the screen. I'll do the work for you- you can rent this awesome 52 inch Sony HD TV for "only" $39.95 per week- that's the part these idiots keep shouting at us. What the little words on the screen tell you is that the television retails for $1599 (this is true, I confirmed it with a twenty-second Google search.) If you accept Rent A Center's "great offer," you'll shell out $4156 over the course of the contract if you want to own the television outright.

So you can save $39.95 per week and have enough money to buy the tv at retail in ten months, or you can rent at $39.95 per week for almost two years, and pay a markup of almost THREE HUNDRED PERCENT- but hey, if you rent, you get the television RIGHT NOW. Like Magic Johnson says in another ad, Rent A Center is all about getting you closer to your dreams, faster. Gag.

I'm going to wrap up this post by pasting a response I made more than a year ago to a question posed at the fine website It may sound rather cold, but I don't think anyone can honestly dispute the points I made in it. The question was "why do people feel justified in complaining about Rent A Center's policies?"

Robert- it's because people with crappy credit see no reason why they should be treated differently from people with good credit.

It's because some people think that saving money and doing without for a while is for suckers.

It's because some people think that they have a "right" to televisions and nice furniture and laptop computers- and they have a "right" to these things at low cost.

It's because some people think that just because they signed a contract and agreed to a payment schedule doesn't mean that they should be held to that payment schedule- and if they are, the people holding them to their agreements are "harassing" them.

It's because some people think it's UNFAIR that just because they have a bad track record in paying their debts, no one will give them a chance to default on MORE debts.

In short, it's because some people are selfish, whiny idiots. Like the people who call Rent A Center a "ripoff."

Here's a clue: You don't need any of the things you rent from Rent A Center. You WANT them, you don't NEED them. If you don't want to make the payments, don't walk into the store and sign the paper. It's really very simple.