Over the Christmas holiday, some people went to pretty desperate measures to acquire Nintendo's coveted Wii. One local woman offered to lease my used Nintendo Wii until she could nab one for herself. I wondered "who would do that?" and politely declined. I wonder if this same woman would be crazy/desperate enough to give into the predatory rent-to-own schemes.
The Consumerist informs us of one extreme example of rent-to-own rip-off pricing. This "lease-purchase" from Kelly's offers a Wii for $79 a month. That price doesn't sound too terrible until you find out that customers are expected to pay that installment for 12 months. What would normally cost $250 would be bumped up to a whopping $948! That's almost enough for a Wii, Xbox 360, and a PS3.
They point out, in contrast, that a credit card at 18% interest would only cost you $23 a month for 12 months, and you'd get "out the door" for $673 less than the Kelly's "deal."
The pitfalls of rent-to-own schemes are nothing new, but I hate to think that some of our down-and-out or desperate gaming brethren might give into this predatory sales tactic. While I enjoy my Nintendo Wii, I know it's not worth almost $1000, let alone their $500 cash price. If things are tight right now, just do what The Consumerist recommends: stick that $79 monthly payment in an envelope for three months and go buy your Wii with cash.