Cash-Short Drivers Roll on Rented Tires

July 8, 2013
Seattle Times  
payday lending news

Tire-rental businesses, much like payday lenders and pawn shops, offer fast credit to consumers who may not be able to obtain a loan elsewhere; but this option often comes with high costs. North Carolina couple Don and Florence Cherry could not afford to buy a new set of tires, so they agreed last September to pay Rent-N-Roll $54.60 a month for 18 months in exchange for four basic Hankook tires. This works out to $982, nearly triple what the radials would have cost at Wal-Mart Stores. Rent-to-own tire shops are one of the newer types of businesses springing up in the wake of the recession as part of the alternative financial sector. Tampa-based Rent-N-Roll has 66 locations nationwide, with plans to open six more this year. Various economic factors have pushed the growth of tire rentals, including rising costs for natural rubber and petroleum used to manufacture tires. With renting, customers pay high premiums for their tires -- much more than the retail cost -- and may be subject to repossession if they miss payments. In addition, tire-rental contracts are so strict that a bankruptcy filing may not erase them. One consumer paid a total price of nearly $3,000 for tires, which works out to the equivalent of more than 120 percent annual interest, or four times the highest credit card rates.
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