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As I See It

Don’t deregulate rent-to-owns

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They just won’t let this one go. Lawmakers in Madison have for years tried to curry favor with the rent-to-own industry, drafting legislation which would allow these companies to charge exorbitant interest rates without having to disclose them. Well, they’re at it agai. Lawmakers in Madison held a hearing yesterday which would deregulate rent-to-own companies. Specifically, the bill would exempt the companies which rent home appliances, furniture and electronics from the state’s consumer protection laws. Under current law, these businesses must provide their customers with a truth-in-lending disclosure which requires them to inform a buyer how much a product will cost over time, including interest. At rent-to-owns, that interest often exceeds one hundred percent. A TV which you could buy at a traditional store for $500 may cost $1000 or more at a rent-to-own. Those who work in the business argue that the state’s consumer protection laws were created before the rent-to-own industry existed, so they should be exempt. Baloney. These companies are barely a step up from loan sharks, and are recording ridiculous profits by preying on the poor. If Wisconsin consumer protection laws were not applied to rent-to-owns, then why do we even have consumer protection laws?

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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