This morning, I sat in on a House Appropriations Committee hearing on S.73, a bill that would set limits on the rent-to-own industry — an industry that’s virtually unregulated and preys on cash-poor Vermonters.
For those unfamiliar, RTOs offer household furnishings and appliances with very little cash up front, but interest rates that’d make a banker blush. Not to mention undisclosed fees and charges. According to Legislative Counsel David Hall, current state law gives the Attorney General rule-making authority; but RTOs write their contracts in a way that effectively puts them beyond the reach of current law.
Hey, I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.
The result is a Wild West marketplace that, according to VPIRG, results in consumers “paying many times the original price of the original item- far more than they would pay if they purchased the item from a traditional retail establishment.”
The bill would establish price caps and disclosure requirements on the industry.