Has now settled with 14 owners of at least 175 retail stores and has sued one of the largest rent-to-own finance companies
HARRISBURG—Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced today that the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General has entered into six settlement agreements, known as Assurances of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) with Pennsylvania owners of the national furniture store Ashley HomeStore concerning “Hang Tag” law violations.
All Ashley HomeStores in Pennsylvania will now provide consumers with clear information, including “hang tags” on rent-to-own items displayed in 22 stores across the state.
“The law doesn’t allow businesses to hide the fine print so they can rip off Pennsylvania consumers,” said AG Shapiro. “You deserve to know the real cost of what you buy, before purchasing it, so you can make smart decisions on how to spend your hard-earned money. My office is committed to enforcing the law against any company that tries to leave consumers hanging.”
The Hang Tag law requires that, if a retailer offers rental purchase agreements, basic terms of the transaction must be displayed to consumers on a hang tag that is physically attached to the item offered for rental purchase. These terms include: the rental payment amount, the cash price, the total number and amount of payments, and the cost of lease services.
Due to certain deceptive practices in the industry, many consumers are unaware of the true cost and nature of these financing options. For example, many consumers are unaware that they are obtaining rent-to-own financing (as opposed to traditional credit) and many consumers are unaware that they may be charged double the cash price of the property (the equivalent of 152% annual interest) under these financing agreements.
Many rent-to-own retailers, including Ashley HomeStore, partner with out-of-state rent-to-own financing companies to provide financing options to consumers who have little or no credit, many of whom are low-income individuals. In 2020, AG Shapiro sued the out-of-state rent-to-own finance company Snap Finance, which has partnered with more than 1,000 PA retailers and has played a significant role in allegedly perpetuating violations of consumer protection laws.
With the filing of the Ashley HomeStore AVCs, the Office of Attorney general has now filed a total of 14 AVCs with businesses that operate 175 brick and mortar furniture stores in Pennsylvania, including Mattress Firm (72 stores) and Big Lots (71 stores). These retailers have committed to comply with the Rental Purchase Agreement Act going forward.
“Our work here is far from over,” said AG Shapiro. “We will continue to work with retailers to ensure the law is obeyed and stand ready to fight for any Pennsylvania consumer who is taken advantage of. I encourage anyone who believes they’ve entered a rent-to-own agreement without seeing a hang tag to file a complaint with my office.”
Pennsylvanians who believe they have been the victim of deceptive business practices committed by rent-to-own companies or retail partners should file a complaint online or contact the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The six Assurances of Voluntary Compliance entered into with the Ashley HomeStore retailers were filed by Deputy Attorney General Merna T. Hoffman.
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