• Report: #312681

Complaint Review: Rent-A-Center

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  • Submitted: Wed, February 27, 2008
  • Updated: Thu, October 23, 2008

  • Reported By:Kenmore New York
Rent-A-Center
798 Young St. Tonawanda NY 14150 Tonawanda, New York U.S.A.

Rent-A-Center Harassment, Original Creditor breaks NY State Law Tonawanda New York

*Author of original report: The End To This

*Author of original report: Does it matter who my attorney is?

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Nobody has stated the obvious

*Consumer Suggestion: Behind on other things as well.

*UPDATE Employee: RE: Benefits Plus

*UPDATE Employee: Benefits Plus

*Consumer Comment: My Experience

*Consumer Comment: My Experience

*Consumer Comment: My Experience

*Consumer Comment: My Experience

*Author of original report: I am not paying the attorney...

*Consumer Comment: I am confused

*Author of original report: I have been following my attorneys directions, she sent a letter, etc...

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Benefits Plus Thingy

*UPDATE Employee: Regarding the rental agreement terminology

*Author of original report: To Robert:

*Author of original report: I searched for the exact amount...

*Consumer Comment: Wow the evr increasing lawsuit...

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: You have rights by LAW

*Author of original report: You seemed to doubt 3 times that I have an attorney...

*Consumer Suggestion: The FDCPA does not apply

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I have been renting a stove from Rent A Center for almost 2 years. I owe less than $300 on it. I have been late on occasion, up until early Nov. 2007, but sometimes paid in advance.

I lost my job in early November, but made every effort to pay. Answered all calls and made arrangements. I fell 2 weeks behind (about $30 and change) in late January.

The store sent their delivery people to my house. I wasn't home. My housemate retrieved a hang tag from the door knob. It says "Sorry we missed you" Their are spaces on the tag that were filled in- date, time and who to call. At the bottom is the printed phone number. Around the phone number, the worker wrote in their own hand "You are 2 weeks behind, you must call to pay or arrange pickup".

This is NY state. NY state is one of the states where original creditors must follow most of the FDCPA. Part of that is to not leave financial or debt information in public or send that information on a post card, etc. This definitely qualifies.

I called rent a center right away and spoke to the manager, "Ryan". He apologized and said he would 'educate' the delivery personne'. I said that sorry was not enough, that they had broken the law and that rent a center was responsible. I stated that I would like rent a center to contact my attorney. I provided my attorney's information. 2 days later, I was called about my payment an stated that no one had contacted my attorney. Ryan stated that the district manager was there in the store and my attorney could call there. I called my attorney, luckily she was available. She called the store and briefly talked to the district manager who told her that either his boss or an attorney would call her back.

Being reasonably certain that this would be dealt with, I paid what I owed.

Before making the payment, I spoke to the manager, Ryan, on the phone and he asked me if, since I was represented by an attorney that it is the attorney they should call in the future, instead of me, I said yes.

My next due was february 11th. No call to my attorney. On the 12th, Ryan caled me. I told him I was waiting for someont to call my attorney or at least get me contact information that I could give to my attorney. He argued with me and said they didn't have to call my attorney. I said that I am stating, right now, that I am represented by an attorney in regard to any dealings with rent a center and someone needs to call my attorney and to not call me anymore. He argued, I hung up.

Every day since then that store has left me voicemails 1-2x per day.

Today, I answered the phone when rent a center called. I calmly tried to explain to a 'Tom' I beleive, that I am represented by counsel and my attorney is to be called. He argued with me, he stated his district manager was there saying they didn't have to call my attorney. I hung up.

Rent a center called right back using 'call id block' (when every time their number came up- this time it came up 'private call). I answered, it was the same rep. I told him again, clearly, that I am represented by counsel and you have her phone number. I hung up.

Rent a center called back again. I told them to stop and hung up.

I was really shaken by this time. I dialed my atotrney. As I was leaving a voicemail for her, rent a center's number showed as trying to call on my second line. I ignored it.

All these calls in about 12-14 minutes.

20 minutes later, I hear the beeps of a large truck backing into my driveway.

It was rent a center. I ignored as they knocked for 10 minutes and even TRIED THE DOOR HANDLE. That is a little scary.

I owe them as if this moment $62 and change. I have the money. I am only asking for a simple call to my attorney.

Tracy
Kenmore, New York
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 02/27/2008 05:03 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Rent-A-Center/Tonawanda-New-York-14150/Rent-A-Center-Harassment-Original-Creditor-breaks-NY-State-Law-Tonawanda-New-York-312681. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
2Author 19Consumer 0Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Author of original report

The End To This

AUTHOR: Tracy - ()

An attorney for RAC corporate finally had meaningful conversations with my attorney. They went over the phone harassment-sometimes 20x in a day. The damage to the fence. The physical turning of my door knob. The amount I had already paid for the stove- one worth about $300 and had paid over 1k. RAC settled the debt, zeroed out  my account.  

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#2 Author of original report

Does it matter who my attorney is?

AUTHOR: Tracy - ()

NO. It doesn't. As long as she is qualified and I am not being charged with murder, something out of her experience, it doesn't matter. Can be my sister, cousin, brother, next door neighbor- as long as they have a license to practice law. 

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#3 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Nobody has stated the obvious

AUTHOR: Exracslave - (U.S.A.)

You DO NOT have to pay these people a dime. They have sent you a letter, no doubt, in which they describe your rental agreement as "expired". If your rental agreemnt is no good, then, business with this company no longer transpires.
I have worked for, and dealt with this company enough to know that, #1. there is a reason they harass you to get their stuff back (it's because the courts ALWAYS rule against them)
and #2. EVERYTHING they say is a bunch of lies. Take everything you have, doortags, voice recordings...etc...and push these people back to the sewer system they came from. Bunch of leeches is all they are...and all of you acct mgrs out there...understand that they are trying to make you feel important by making you responsible for credit. Take it from me, I got high enough on that ladder to see the first rung, and that was where we wiped the manure.
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#4 Consumer Suggestion

Behind on other things as well.

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

This report is a tad convoluted.

In another report, she admits to being behind on other financial obligations.

In another report, her "attorney" is her mother.

JUst to clarify things (and provide free legal research for her mommy) the FDCPA does not apply to creditors and NJ law cannot be imported into NY.

The law that RAC is violating by repeatedly calling (especially on the same day) is Article 29H of the New York State General Business Law. This article applys to ALL entities attempting to collect consumer debt; creditors and debt collectors.

Your welcome Tracy.
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#5 UPDATE Employee

RE: Benefits Plus

AUTHOR: Matt - (U.S.A.)

The comment that Benefits Plus is useless could not be further from the truth. 2 of the big things it offers are unemployment insurance and a 1 year extended warranty on all items after they are purchased.

The unemployment insurance pays 4 months or $1000, whichever comes first. I have had at least 15-20 people use this and have their accounts paid for. We get a large check in the mail from Benefits Plus after filing the claim. Not for anything, but I think having accounts paid for 4 months while only having to spend $3/week is a pretty good deal, wouldn't you say?

Also, I bet you wouldn't feel this is useless if you bought out a TV and then had a circuit board blow out or a lamp that needs to be replaced...those are both repairs that are in the 150+ range to start...

Know the facts before you come out with these ridiculous statements. Benefits Plus is a very useful product and has helped a lot of people retain their merchandise when the only option without it would have been to return it.
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#6 UPDATE Employee

Benefits Plus

AUTHOR: Matt - (U.S.A.)

I have to strongly disagree that Benefits Plus is not useful...I have filed numerous times for people in regards to unemployment claims and while it is a pain in the butt for US to send them all the paperwork and wait for the claim to go thru, only 1 out of maybe 20 people got denied benefits. I have had several people get the max benefit of $1000 also...not bad for paying $3 a week.

As we speak right now I am awaiting a check from Benefits Plus for a customer for over $948 to cover all 4 of his accounts.

It is extremely useful and just the unemployment coverage is worth it, IMHO
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#7 Consumer Comment

My Experience

AUTHOR: Princesslisa - (U.S.A.)

I love the fact that everyone is saying if you paid on time they would leave you alone. I know this to be untrue as my husband and I are never late on our payments and they call our cell phones and work numbers multiple times for several days prior to the payment being due. So if someone would please explain those practices to me seeing as we are not in violation of our agreement and payments are made on and sometimes before the due date and in excess of the contracted amount I would greatly appreciate it.
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#8 Consumer Comment

My Experience

AUTHOR: Princesslisa - (U.S.A.)

I love the fact that everyone is saying if you paid on time they would leave you alone. I know this to be untrue as my husband and I are never late on our payments and they call our cell phones and work numbers multiple times for several days prior to the payment being due. So if someone would please explain those practices to me seeing as we are not in violation of our agreement and payments are made on and sometimes before the due date and in excess of the contracted amount I would greatly appreciate it.
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#9 Consumer Comment

My Experience

AUTHOR: Princesslisa - (U.S.A.)

I love the fact that everyone is saying if you paid on time they would leave you alone. I know this to be untrue as my husband and I are never late on our payments and they call our cell phones and work numbers multiple times for several days prior to the payment being due. So if someone would please explain those practices to me seeing as we are not in violation of our agreement and payments are made on and sometimes before the due date and in excess of the contracted amount I would greatly appreciate it.
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#10 Consumer Comment

My Experience

AUTHOR: Princesslisa - (U.S.A.)

I love the fact that everyone is saying if you paid on time they would leave you alone. I know this to be untrue as my husband and I are never late on our payments and they call our cell phones and work numbers multiple times for several days prior to the payment being due. So if someone would please explain those practices to me seeing as we are not in violation of our agreement and payments are made on and sometimes before the due date and in excess of the contracted amount I would greatly appreciate it.
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#11 Author of original report

I am not paying the attorney...

AUTHOR: Tracy - (U.S.A.)

She is a friend and has taken this 'pro bono'. She told me I could wait to pay them as she is in negotiations with their attorney. She also said I could pay them what I could afford. That was 3 payments. When I called the store and paid 'Tom', oddly this time he was cordial, accepted the payment and didn't mention the arrears. I am thinking they have been admonished that I have an attorney.

Collections people do call people, that is their job. But after multiple calls from an attorney, 2 'cease and desist' letters from an attorney, they should fully know the law on not calling ME anymore.

RAC seems to think they are above the law in regard to calling me when it has been established that I am represented by counsel. No creditor is. Whether it is a rental or a loan.
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#12 Consumer Comment

I am confused

AUTHOR: Jim - (U.S.A.)

I do not understand the mentality here. You state that you are 5 weeks behind and your attorney tells you to only send 3 weeks worth of payments. Are you paying your attorney to handle this for you, or is she a friend doing it for free? If you are paying her, then my advice would be to simply use that money that you are paying her and get current on your agreement with RAC. I realize that they overcharge, but in fairness you signed the paperwork agreeing to the payments. According to your statement, this all started in November due to a job loss. I am sorry to hear that, but I am assuming that at this point you are employed again. You seem like a reasonable person, if you just stayed current with your payments they would not call at all. They would have no reason to call. As far as RAC calling numerous times a day, that is what all collection people do when someone is behind. Their thought process is that they will wear you out with the phone calls until you give in to paying the bills. I hope this works out for you, but I would certainly advise just paying them and avoiding any potential legal action.
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#13 Author of original report

I have been following my attorneys directions, she sent a letter, etc...

AUTHOR: Tracy - (U.S.A.)

By this morning I was about 5 payments behind + the 1 week advance they ask for. I called and paid 3 payments.

My attorney had sent a letter to the store, saying that she is the contact, to cease contacting me. The store never forwarded it to ther RAC attorney.

A week ago, I received a demand letter from a local attoeney. I gave the contact information to my attorney. She called him and he stated that they 'only are contracted to send demand letters' for RAC and they don't get further involved, even though their letter states that "..they represent RAC in all matters regarding this account and will take all necessary measures to protect their client."

That attorney said he would consult RAC legal dept in Plano Tx and call my attorney back.

About a week or so ago, an RAC truck backed into my driveway, yet again. They knocked on the door and when I didn't answer, they got into their truck, backed up and bumped into the fence that goes across the mid point of my driveway. There was minor damage but I was stunned that they would do this.

I called the store who said they would 'look into it' and call me back.

They didn't.

Yesterday I received a call from their District Manager. I told this person that I was represented by an attorney. She said she had no knowledge of that. I told her that not only have the store employees been told over and over, but that my attorney andd the RAC attorney had already talked. She was rude, argued and I hung up on her. She called right back.

I told her that when I end a phone call that she shouldn't call me back and to call my attorney or the RAC attorney. I had to hang up on her again. She wouldn't stop talking. My attorney then called this person who gave my attorney a phone number for the RAC legal office in Texas. The number ends in a recording, identifying RAC but saying that technical difficulties are keeping them from taking phone calls. My attorney did call this manager back who said she would work on contacting someone.

My attorney has looked over my 'rental agreement' as well as the most recent lawsuits, all LOST by RAC showing that their contract is in fact a loan and they have to follow the same NY state laws as original creditors. In every case, she said, RAC though they didn't have to and lost every time, no matter what state.

They could offer to put a credit on my bill. They screwed up and they know that this behavior could result in multiple fines. They start at $5,000 and go to $10,000 for each time they violate the law. But, they seem to take the attitude that they can do whatever they feel like and that I am a deadbeat 'living the high life' witht he use of the electric stove I rent from them at $12.99 + taxes per week.

In regard to Benefits Plus, they never offered it. I wish I had known about it.
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#14 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Benefits Plus Thingy

AUTHOR: Ryan - (U.S.A.)

I was following you until you mentioned Benefits Plus. For one, most employees in the company handle benefits plus one of two ways. They either don't try to sell it to you because it is a useless product or they add it to your account without telling you. I call Benefits Plus useless because each "benefit" it offers has a bunch of loop holes to ensure that the odds of a customer cashing in on it are very low. An example would be the unempoyment coverage. To qualify for the unemployment coverage you cannot quit or be fired from your job. The company must lay you off. This happens very rarely.

On another note, leaving a door not with any visible information regarding an account is illegal anywhere in the country. You can pursue your legal rights on that one. Ryan should have taken that seriously and contacted his Market Manager immediately to protect his own rear end. That is a seperate issue though. You still owe the money you agreed to pay on the stove and should continue to pay your weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly payments as you agreed.

Calling you 1 to 2 times a day is not harrasment. RAC has a right to collect money owed to them just like anyone else. Hanging up on them does not solve the problem. If you weren't satisfied with Ryan's customer service you should have asked to speak to his boss (a.k.a. the Market Manager) and I'm certain the issue would have been resolved a long time ago.

Best of luck to you. Sorry you are another victim of RAC employee indiference.
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#15 UPDATE Employee

Regarding the rental agreement terminology

AUTHOR: Racaccla - (U.S.A.)

I do not know the exact laws in NY regarding RAC's rental agreement; but I do know they have a swarm of lawyers that overlook every document they use nationwide to ensure all 'i's are dotted and 't's are crossed.

If the paperwork you signed says 'Rental Agreement' at the top of the page; then you are stuck with an executory agreement. If you don't know what this means, you can ask your attorney. Generally, it means you have the option to back out of the deal with no penalty.

The terms RAC applies to cancel the agreement are pay rent, pay off, or return. Exercising one of these options voids the agreement. Failure to do one of the options is considered a breech of the agreement.

RAC is not required to call a lawyer or attorney you claim to retain. If you disagree with RAC, your attorney should be contacting them with your dispute in writing. After all, isn't that why you retain a lawyer? Be sure to include something that says they are not to contact you anymore and must contact the attorney directly and any calls to your cell, home, references, or employment will be filed as harassment. Your attorney should send the affidavit via certified mail to obtain a mail receipt indicating delivery. Document any attempted contacts from that point on. At least, get a phone statement showing the date, time and length of the call.

If you did not forward a copy of the agreement you signed to your attorney, I would suggest you do so so she can look it over. Honestly, she will probably say to give the stuff back to cancel the agreement, and chalk it up to a learning experience. If you wish to keep the merchandise, then I suggest you concede and pay the account off.

You say you only owed less than $300 at the time this started, so your pay off amount would have been about $150. I would have shoved that $150 down the store manager's throat and told them I would ensure no one I knew came in to buy anything else from them. End of story.

Did they offer you the Benefits Plus thingy? I would have accepted it in your case. You could have claimed the unemployment benefit and they would pay $100 max for 10 months. It's not 'free time' that you have to eventually pay; its a check they receive from a company in Atlanta, GA to pay for your stuff. If you only owed $300 like you say, it would have been paid in 3 months, and all you had to pay is $12.99 per month.
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#16 Author of original report

To Robert:

AUTHOR: Tracy - (U.S.A.)

Reading over my original post . it STATES that my attorney called the store. WHY do you ask "Why doesn't your attorney cal the store?" Do you not read???
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#17 Author of original report

I searched for the exact amount...

AUTHOR: Tracy - (U.S.A.)

I couldn't find it. A well-known blog quoted $109 million. However, "settlements in six states have totaled more than $256 million" and settlements rent-a-center has made with it's OWN employees in regard to harassment total several million.

The NJ case was appealed ny Rent-a-center in the supreme court and rent-a-center lost, the supreme court cited 'usury'. That means- for only those who don't know- charging FEES FOR LENDING that are legaly too high, so they are a lender.

No matter how many times they want to say they are 'renting', it is 'rent to own', which the Supreme Court has interrpreted as a LOAN. That case makes law- (for the first poster who might not understand, when a court makes a decision- it becomes law and if the supreme court decides it- that's pretty much it- unless the Supreme Court decides to hear a 'rent-a-center' related case ever again- which is unikley- they pick and choose what cases they will deal with each year and ignore many).

I am NOT saying I am NOT going to pay. I mailed off a money order to the store for about 1/2 of the $62 today (on my attorney's advice. She specifically stated to send 1-2 payments- NO MORE until they respond to her). As with the last time, I will come half way and then wait for them to call my attorney. If they don;t call or give contact information...they will wait a little more.

They are just being arrogant- and they will learn- as other Rent-A-Centers have, it will get them nowhere.
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#18 Consumer Comment

Wow the evr increasing lawsuit...

AUTHOR: Striderq - (U.S.A.)

last time you posted it was $150 million. Now it's $158 million. My search shows the amount of !109 million. Yes they lost a lawsuit, but when you embellish/exaggerate the facts it makes the rest of your post a little hard to accept.
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#19 UPDATE EX-employee responds

You have rights by LAW

AUTHOR: Ex-employee - (U.S.A.)

I am former employee of RentaCenter and read your comments with empathy.
These are common practices of RentaCenter EVERYWHERE !!!!!!

Not being from NewYork, I do not know their state laws, but I do have some suggestions. Telephone harassment is a valid concern with consumer rights thru-out the USA. Docment time, date and all calls from RentaCenter....call your attorney with these, contact your phone company and even visit your local prosecuteing attorney about telephone harassment and THE LAW. The next time these goons drive in your driveway and touch your door handle..CALL THE POLICE and report an attempted BREAKING AND ENTERING COMPLAINT....have them arrested if you can !!!!! Keep that door tag for legal issues and all written and verbal recordings you can make pertaining to RentaCenter...These are your ammunition for the future. You may want to call and tell The Store Manager of the episode and the fear you experienced with his staff trying to open your door and inform him that you will consider it trespassing the next time his staff arrives on your property ( consult your attorney on this first)

Again, I am not in New York, but I find it highly UNLIKELY that YOU have anything to worry about with CRIMINAL CHARGES being applied to you, as suggested by the last entry. Draft a letter, yourself, and send it certified to the store manager stating your comments and contact info for your attorney. I agree with you in regards to the law being broken with information disclosure of any kind on that doortag !!!!! I do not believe that the government distinguishes a lease/rental payment to be excluded under a different terminology---IT IS A RENT_TO_OWN agreement.

Now, lets not forget that you have probably paid appoximately $15.00 a week for two years for this stove...WOW____about $1500.00___RIGHT.
Come on America, Rentacenter still says this person owes another 300.....get real...they dont have a 300.00 investment in it anymore, AND my guess is that RentaCenter didnt even pay $300 for it in the beginning (OH-btw-I was a buyer at one point in my career with RAC_ so dont question this fact !!!! )

RentaCenter LOST a class action lawsuit in New Jersey in 2007 for over $158 million for the practices and policies they uphold to be legal and lawful......have a legal eagle research this and all the other lawsuits on these RIPPOFF artists, AND you may be the next VICTORY winner in New York with yet another lawsuit with this company. Hey, 2007 RentaCenter revenue was over $3 billion dollars---THATS something to go after !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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#20 Author of original report

You seemed to doubt 3 times that I have an attorney...

AUTHOR: Tracy - (U.S.A.)

(If you really have one), etc of course I do. My attorney has called the store. The store told her to await a higher-up or an attorney to call her back and verified that they are only to communicate with her. It's been a month so she sent a certified letter. She also has me keeping a log in regard to how many times they have called me personally when they were supposed to be calling her.

The law is changeing on this and my attorney has stated that 'criminal conversion' is the wrong phrase. The last precedent is in NJ where the court ruled that Rent-A-Center is a predatory lender. In regard to the contract, that if it looks and acts like a loan, it is a loan, no matter what their store is named.

You would be up on these things if you were qualified to answer this.
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#21 Consumer Suggestion

The FDCPA does not apply

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

because this is "rental" property, not a credit purchase.

Also, if you continue to avoid them and refuse to keep current and not make arrangements to return the property, you could find yourself being charged with criminal conversion.

Since you seem to have a lawyer, why doesn't your lawyer contact the store?

Also, your attorney (if you really have one) should be advising you that rental property is not a credit purchase.

You are correct that they shouldn't be calling you multiple times during the same day and they should not have put the "your 2 weeks late" on your door, but that is because of NY State law, not the FDCPA.

Consult with your attorney and have your attorney thoroughly brief YOU about the risk of being criminally charged by your avoiding them. Also, have your attorney NOTIFY them that if they continue to violate state law as to "public notices" that they leave on your door.

Good luck.
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