Rent-A-Center’s Free Same-Day Delivery
November 11th, 2020
In need of a couch, TINA.org reader Christy S. turned to Rent-A-Center, which offers payment plans for furniture, appliances and electronics and describes itself as a “rent-to-own industry leader” with more than 2,000 stores in North America. Part of what attracted her to Rent-A-Center was the promise of free same-day delivery on the company’s website (see above).
But after heading to a store (in the middle of a pandemic, we might add), finding the couch she wanted and finalizing a payment plan, Christy was told it would be delivered in four days, as opposed to later that day.
How could this happen?
If you look closely at the graphic above, you’ll see two asterisks (**) affixed to “delivery,” indicating there might be some strings attached to the offer. Finding out what those strings are takes a little effort.
The telling language appears in the middle of the last (and, at 464 words, the longest) of seven paragraphs of fine print at the bottom of the Rent-A-Center website. It reads: “Some exceptions may apply.” Don’t worry, we’ve done the work for you (click to enlarge):
In addition, the sentence preceding the underlined text above states:
Free Same-Day Delivery applies to in-store agreements completed before 4 p.m. for in-stock items and delivered to addresses within the normal service area of the store.
While these limitations to free same-day delivery may sound reasonable, burying them in a place where consumers are unlikely to see them is not.
But in our reader’s case, the exception that applied wasn’t when she made the purchase or how far from the store she lived, but rather the store itself, which nonetheless displayed a sign advertising free same-day delivery, Christy said.
“They said that the store does not [offer same-day delivery] because they are a small store and the only store in the area,” Christy wrote to TINA.org. Nowhere in the fine print does it say anything about these factors affecting customers’ eligibility for same-day delivery.
In response to an inquiry by TINA.org, Rent-A-Center defended its use of mouseprint disclaimers.
“Our communications to consumers provide robust transparency on the terms of that offer,” a spokesperson said in an email to TINA.org, referring to same-day delivery.
TINA.org isn’t the only one to scrutinize Rent-A-Center’s marketing practices. In 2017, the personal finance website NerdWallet conducted an investigation that revealed Rent-A-Center charges double and sometimes triple what other retailers charge for the same products. NerdWallet also found that the additional costs associated with the company’s rent-to-own leases can be similar to those found in some high-interest payday loans. (The Rent-A-Center spokesperson told TINA.org that all of the payment terms “are fully disclosed to customers in advance.”)
The bottom line? Do your research before making – or committing to making – a big purchase. This means reading ALL the fine print.
Find more of our coverage on the fine print here.