Monday, December 19, 2011

Sticker Shock.

You know, today, I was out looking for a very specific piece of furniture. I compare prices, and I found what I needed at a used store. It was in perfect shape, and strongly built. It was $199.99. I was tempted, but I wanted to talk to Tim first, since we don't spend that kind of money without discussing it, and I wanted to stop at another couple places, including the one Tim asked me to stop at, one of those rent to own places.

Now, I hate those sorts of places. They prey on the poor, in my opinion. Yes. They offer low low weekly rates, no credit check, but you wind up paying triple or quadruple the prices by the time that you are done paying those low payments for extraordinarily long periods of time. The particular store that I was stopping at is owned by a former man of the cloth. He has painted scripture references on the side the trucks, but still, I find it hard to understand how those two mindsets 'fit', if you will. I cannot see how the operator of a store like this is much different from the tax collectors of Jesus' time. They made their living gouging the poor.

But Tim told me to stop in. Apparently they sell used furniture in there at times, inexpensively. I had my doubts, but I stopped in. Much to my surprise, I saw the exact same style piece I'd seen earlier at the other store over in the corner. I headed for it. I noticed right away that it was not as sturdily made. The wood pieces were thinner, and screwed together. The other had been good thick wood, and it had been pegged together. I stood studying it, and a very smooth young man came over to ask me if I needed help.

I told him straight out that I would not do rent to own, that I objected to them on sheer principle, and that I wanted to know how much it cost to buy the piece outright. He did some checking for me, and said, brightly, "You can take that home for $469."

I was so shocked I could do no more than gape. "You must be joking!"

Seriously, people, you can go to Walmart, or Kmart, or Big Lots and buy that sort of furniture for way less, in the $250 range. If you've got $469. to spend, well, heck, you can get a VERY nice piece for that price, of much superior quality. (LATE EDIT: buying this piece on their payment plan would have cost an addition $200.) "No thanks," I said, "I'll get it where I saw it first." He shrugged his shoulders and smiled. I buttoned my coat around me and I walked out of the store.

It amazes me. Tomorrow, Tim and I will go pick up the piece I looked at (it is a Christmas present, and so I am being circumspect here). The owner of that shop is a guy Tim used to work with. He offers used furniture. He has one set price, whether you buy it outright, or whether you put it on layaway. He's an older fellow. Rougher around the edges. He doesn't have trucks, but if he did, I don't imagine that he'd have Bible scripture on them.

You know, it's God's place to judge the heart of man, and judgement is not my business, but if God was looking for a sofa, I bet I know where he'd do his shopping.


quid said...

I agree that the rental places are "let the buyer beware" joints.

Once got a TV there... $68. Still have it, working....I guess there are exceptions!


Mary Paddock said...

A very long time ago Gary and I bought our first refrigerator together using one of these businesses. We were poor as church mice, the fridge in our rental went out and the landlord refuse to replace it (blamed us for a fridge from the 1940s dying?). We wouldn't didn't have the money all at once so making payments made sense. It took us a year of making weekly payments, but we did it. The interest was high, but not awful. We used that fridge for ten years before moving on to a larger one.

Fast forwarding--we looked into rent to own a few years ago, but I don't remember why or for what. I was horrified by the interest and huge amount of money that they wanted for the item. I think this started out a good idea, but has been overrun by loan sharks (it is telling that many of these places also offer payday loans).

jeanie said...

I love your spin at the end. Its not just that they prey on the poor - often those without don't have the financial nouse to work out how much they are being gouged. They just see the "less than a dollar a day" sticker.

Bob said...

Very wise, Debby. Very wise indeed.