Barnardo's say rent-to-own stores are crippling the poor

29 December 2011

original Top charity Barnardo’s has hit out against ‘rent-to-own’ suppliers of household appliances, claiming that they are exploiting low-income families who are forced to use them in order to get much-needed ‘stuff’.

The charity has called upon the OFT to address the rent-to-buy sector, which includes chains like BrightHouse, describing it as “morally bankrupt”, and claiming that some consumers are paying up to 150% more than they would elsewhere for some standard household appliances.

They quoted an example of a three-year rental agreement costing £1,074 for a fridge freezer that would normally cost £430 on the High Street. Barnado’s are proposing that stores like BrightHouse should display the equivalent High Street price of their products and make the interest rates more clear.

What do you lot reckon? Do people who rent-to-own deserve everything that’s coming to them, as they strive to own things that they neither need nor can afford? Or should we be easier on them, and treat them with kid gloves, by putting up signs that explain to them just how they’re being shafted. Your thoughts below please...


  • bob
    Never even seen these shops before. Maybe they are only in poor areas which also relates to the i.q. of the customers - dumb.
  • really
    Does this rental also include maintenance? Something like a washing machine might work out cheaper under such a deal. Also, I think there is a class of person in this country that shouldn't be allowed personal control of their finances, its too much for them to handle.
  • james D.
    It's expensive being poor.
  • Dick
    As above, these agreements often mean you can just stop paying and return the item under the agreement. So you can upgrade whenevr you like. If you want a fridge for six months, they can be a good way of doing it. That, or you buy a cheap second hand one. Barnardo's should maybe suggest alternative to poor people - such as buying second hand, rather than just saying these are expensive ways to buy, since the idea is not that you are buying, you are renting.
  • Rich
    There are plenty of "have now pay now" shops available if they prefer, in my opinion if people want to pay weekly for something then surely they have to pay extra for it. With ebay and gumtree sites availble there is plenty of 2nd hand equipment availble at very good prices. Also, all I ever see in these shops are Flat screen TV's and leather sofa's, are these really a necessity ?? If I needed something I couldn't afford then I'd prefer to have 2nd hand item paid for than a fridge freezer (eample) that I have to pay off for the next 5 years and pay well over the odds for the privilege.
  • Alexis
    To be fair, the interest rates are very obvious. Go on the website and it tells you in massive orange boxes how much it costs you.
  • Erm
    I think the point that is being portrayed in this whole thing (and you need to read between the lines to see it) is that unlike payday loans and stuff like that that is regulated by FSA (and the legalities that go with it, displaying APR etc etc) Rent-to-Buy isn't governed or regulated by anyone and as the articles says [], It is not in OFT's powers to enforce the required changes, that would need to be done by the government and the FSA. Not quoting sources now BW? for shame!
  • JonB
    The point they made on the radio this morning is that the breakdown of the prices is not available (i.e. how much for the item, insurance, credit, etc.). If you rent-to-buy you have to pay for insurance in case the item is broken or needs replacing, which increases the total amount you have to pay. You don't have a choice about taking this insurance, but I suppose that's fair enough as you can't afford to replace the item if you are buying it this way anyway.
  • Rich
    Regulate what !!! How obvious does it have to get. It's going to be more expensive to pay off an itam at a few punds per week than a one off payment. What next - signs in Taxi's telling you that a bus would be cheaper, then a sign on the bus saying walking would be cheaper. This is not a scam, it's a legitimate shop, they also have to deal with non payments etc..etc.. I'd like to know how many people shopping in these shops fall into the catagory of: I want something I can't afford and I want it now.
  • heywood j.
    They should clamp down on the people that are forcing poor people to go into these shops. So that's erm, no-one. It's a sad day that being classed as living below the bread line no longer means "can't afford bread", it means no sky tv and 55" plasma.
  • samuri
    You should see the prices in our local Barnardo's, the locals call it Harrods perhaps they should look at home before poking the shitty stick at others.
  • shinkyshonky between the lines Again the b**kers are screwing people over...... From the people who bring you brighthouse You gotta love this Divide and rule currently in play.... when people realise , then and only then will things change
  • Kevin
    Oh ffs if you are too thick to realise it's a bad deal that is your look out. Just as it is your choice if you decide to buy a tv from B&O rather than Comet. If you didn't pay the rent on these products but just waited a few months you could buy a new one! You can't regulate the moronic. People have freedom of choice, as Dick said there are reasons to use them. But even if you don't want to keep changing there are other options. If you can't even bother reading the paperwork in the shop window let alone inside then it's your fault, noone elses.
  • The B.
    Apparently it's "divide and rule", divide what? Idiots from those with a modicum of sense? And rule what? I haven't got a clue, the loonies spout this BS all the time, not had a sensible answer to date.
  • The A.
    It's buyer beware. Anyone can open a Credit Union account, save a little for a few month and have access to affordable credit for when a crisis arises like the need for a new washer or fridge. I've just has a look at the Brighthouse website. to buy a telly costs £1400 (spread over 3 years at £12.99 a month. Anybody with a brain would wait, SAVE UP the £12.99 for a year and 2 months giving , when you can pick up the same telly for cash from currys saving yourself over £600 and a millstone of repayments round your neck. Its called delayed gratification.
  • Paul C.
    Never noticed there was such a fuss as this when Radio Rentals was about.
  • Tom
    @The Crimson Avenger: ...or just don't buy the telly and save the cash in case you need it for something important.
  • JonB
    @The Crimson Avenger You mean £12.99 a week, not month, don't you? I think the problem is that the people who use these shops are not very good at saving and want the item now.
  • brett
    The APR is fixed at 29.9% That seems about right to me as most other retailers charge the same if not more (littlewoods anybody??) I dont really see the problem, if you look on the website all the prices are clear and nothing seems to be hidden, you cant say fairer than that! Has anybody got a catalogue? it seems a very smilar idea just in a shop form and nobody seems to jump on their backs We all know if you pay over time you end up paying more, why has it only just become an issue now?
  • Keith
    We sure could use more education and clearer labelling when it comes to credit, however, of course, education about saving a little each week when you're living tight would help more. It's not easy when you're living on benefits or just working a low paid job and relying on the small extras to get by. However, things like Freecycle, local furniture and appliance recycling charities and the like can really help out. Can't afford a 32" LCD TV? there's five old CRT ones just waiting to be collected on Freecycle, and even if you have to pay the taxi guy a tenner to collect it, you've just saved £200. It is a sad truth however, that the less you have, the more everything costs. As Sgt Vimes said, in the Discworld, a $10 pair of boots might last a month before falling apart, while leaking, but buy a $50 pair and they'll last all year AND you'll have dry feet. I just wish there was a way to get the word out about Freecycle, it's disheartening to see good furniture, decent sofas, TVs etc just dumped outside the flats I live in and around, just because someone's got a new one. If only they'd offered them, they wouldn't have ended up left in the rain for a week before the council has to pay to have them cleared away to the dump. There's no shame in second hand, especially when the option is letting some greedy bastard in a suit screw you for three times what it costs over a few years. If you have a PC and can't afford a games console, look into the huge amount of free games, and stupidly cheap ones available from all over the web too. Gaming really hasn't moved on so much in most places, things just look shinier is all. Contrary to popular belief you really don't need some amazing power machine to play most stuff too, especially, if you're buying cheap, you're buying last generation and it'll be less needy on your tech. Perhaps a topic for another thread however :D
  • Keith
    Just a short additional comment, if you're really stuck, and by that I mean need a freezer/oven/washing machine, not a telly or Xbox, then you can usually go to the DSS or whatever they're called this week to pretend that poor people don't exist, and request a crisis loan, and often they'll be able to help, provided you've shown that you've done research, costed out what you NEED, not what you want, and that you'll be able to repay it. Showing that you've got SOME money saved towards it will help too.
  • stella b.
    i used places like this 20 yrs ago,they give a good service,if you dont have a credit rating,young,just starting on your own,low paid job and you need an essential they are a long as you can afford the repayments and dont go on a silly spending spree!
  • Paul
    £415.48 for a Kinect which could have been bought for £80. There should be a law against this kind of exploitation. This kind of store can only hurt our economy even more as there is less money left for the desperate to spend elsewhere. I have a great deal of sympathy for those unfortunate to have to shop there. There has to be a more moral alternative.
  • paul
    every thing is clearly explained to the cust when buying any item from brighthouse, everything is broken down, so what is this person talking about????, nobody used to complain when radio rentals , granada, easyview and other companies like that used to charge the same amount of money to rent something and you never owned it, but with brighthouse your fully covered and own the item after the term.

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