Rent-A-Center accused of harassing, taking advantage of customers

Accusing Rent-A-Center of using collection tactics and charging fees just this side of a loan shark, Washington state is asking a judge to declare the practices illegal and halt them.

The allegations are another black eye to the business of renting furniture, electronics and appliances to those who can't otherwise get credit or afford to buy at a regular store.

Instead, those who go to Rent-A-Center and its competitors can get items for what might seem to be an affordable payment that ends up costing them many times the actual price.

Rent-A-Center markets itself as giving opportunity to those who wouldn't otherwise have a chance to get the items it leases and is using the popular retired basketball star Ervin "Magic" Johnson in television spots.

Some examples of what Washington officials say certain items cost consumers who were making weekly payments (payments can be made weekly, biweekly or monthly):

  • $6,594 for a used television

  • $3,585 for a refrigerator

  • $4,073 for a laptop computer