K-Mart & Sears Join The “Rent-To-Own” Market

by Yesha Callahan


No credit? No problem!

Sears and K-Mart are now  part of the infamous rent-to-own crowd.  Who wouldn’t want to pay $415 for a t.v. that would normally cost  $300?  Just in time for the holidays too? It’s a win-win situation for those people without credit or cash. Or is it?

“The rent-to-own industry promises consumers the American dream of ownership,” said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a Boston-based consumer group. “But its contracts provide for very high-cost payments, and it is difficult to complete the contract.”

Contracts that call for bi-weekly payments, similar to places like Aarons Rents and Rent-A-Center, truly aren’t benefiting anyone but the company. Unfortunately, those consumers who feel the need to make top of the line purchases, may not realize they’re being taken for a ride.

From Bloomberg:

In an example provided by Sears, customers could buy a $400 item or group of items by making 10 biweekly payments over five months of $33, then decide whether to keep making payments, return the merchandise, or spend $220 to buy out the lease for a final cost of $553. That would be the equivalent of a 114 percent annual rate, according to Mierzwinski.

Mierzwinski said he found the Sears lease-to-own website, operated with its program partner, Whynot Leasing LLC, “opaque,” with the true cost of products not easily discernible. That’s typical of rent-to-own programs, he said, which appeal to cash-strapped consumers because they focus on the individual payment amounts, not total cost.

“It deceives consumers about the true price,” Mierzwinski said. “Consumers are just going to see $25. The trick of rent-to-own is to show you the weekly payment.”

Jai Holtz, Sears Holdings’ vice president of financial services, says the Sears rent-to-own program has grabbed new customers who don’t qualify for credit, allowing them to buy televisions and other big-ticket items.

“I’m not here to convince you lease-to-own is not more expensive than a credit program,” Holtz said. “Our total cost of ownership, for a customer who otherwise cannot get credit, is much lower than the others in the industry offering these types of products. This is really coming from consumer demand.”

Consumer demand at 114% APR, yeah, it’s a win win for everyone.



  • https://www.facebook.com/thornefielder Cherl Thorne-Fielder

    do they also charge 3 times what the merchandise is really worth??

  • https://www.facebook.com/teema.mcelvy Teema McElvy

    if its like rent a center or Aaron’s then it ain’t worth it.

  • https://www.facebook.com/ewmurphy84 Cindy Villatoro

    Desperate for business. I still shop at kmart when it comes to bathroom tissue and detergent. I get points towards my card and accumulate $15-$25 dollars on just 4 visits so on my 5th visit I don’t pay for what I’m buying. Only reason i go.

  • https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.crosby.900 Elizabeth Crosby

    how about bringing back the real layaway!

  • http://gravatar.com/missinformation7 Ms. Information

    Christmas is such a deceptive holiday….people go into debt celebrating the birth of Jesus…celebrate the son of God..not a billionaire’s pockets.

  • Annoyed

    This is the real cost of having lousy credit. You will pay more for everything. This is not just a problem for poor peole. Paying your bills late means you will pay more for anything you have financed.

  • http://www.beautycoatedlife.com Candice

    I will never finance anything besides a house and possibly a car but I’d rather buy one outright. I have student loans and they have changed my perspective on finances tremendously. If I can’t pay for it with the money in my bank account then it isn’t meant for me. When I get these student loans paid off I’m hitting my dougie and will hopefully never be in debt again.

  • Starla

    @ Annoyed, there is no true cost to be honest..These people can buy their stuff off Craigslist, or the local thrift store. Even I still buy my cellphones off local sales from Craigslist. I have also sold things through Craigslist. If it’s furniture or clothing they can get a fabric steamer and sanitize their thrifted purchases and save their money.

  • Tina

    Kmart and Sears are hustling backwards. Visiting their brick and mortar stores is like taking a trip back in time at least two decades, meanwhile McDonald’s seems to be knocking down even fairly new buildings and rebuilding them. The only thing Sears and KMart have going for them is the Shop Your Way Rewards Program, which is fairly generous with deals if you catch them at the right time. I don’t expect these 2 stores to survive another 2 years if they don’t come into this century.

  • Spencer Lemay

    Actually they are based on normal prices, basically you only end up paying 40% more for the item over 5 months.

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