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As I See It

Rent to own industry doesn’t deserve special treatment



Here they go again. Wisconsin republicans are again trying to make it easier for rent to own stores to rip people off. These stores offer furniture and appliances for those who can’t afford to buy, but charge them huge interest rates. Wisconsin’s consumer protection laws currently protect consumers by requiring rent-to-own companies to disclose the interest rates they charge. But some lawmakers think that is not necessary, and want to exempt rent-to-owns from those laws. They’ve been trying to do it for years, even trying to hide the provision in a state budget. Now they are trying again, seeking to introduce legislation to make it easier for rent-to-own companies to charge exorbitant rates. That is shameful. These companies typically charge up to four times the cost of buying their products elsewhere. You can get a 50 inch tv at Sam’s Club for less than $600. At a rent to own, it can cost more than $1200. This is a predatory industry, preying on the poor. The question has to be raised, why are these lawmakers so insistent on exempting rent-to-owns from the Consumer Protection Act? Money. They have been stuffing their pockets with campaign cash from an industry eager to expand its profits. There can be no other explanation. Doing so would not protect Wisconsin families, it would only protect the company’s profits. Of all the businesses to be covered by consumer protection laws, shouldn’t the rent-to-own industry be at the top of that list?

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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