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Rent-A-Center to pay $15.5 million to settle lawsuit, alleging overpricing

The state's Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the settlement calls for Rent-A-Center to pay out $13.5 million to California consumers, and $2 million in civil penalties. 
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Rent-A-Center, one of the nation’s largest rent-to-own companies, will pay $15.5 million to settle charges of violating state consumer protection laws for unlawful leasing practices and deceptive marketing. 

The state's Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the settlement calls for Rent-A-Center to pay out $13.5 million to California consumers. The company will also pay $2 million in civil penalties. 

According to Bonta’s office, an investigation of Rent-A-Center’s “kiosks” business found an inflated “cash price” for products that was 15 percent higher than the retail price, potentially costing customers hundreds of extra dollars, among other violations. 

​​“Rent-A-Center repeatedly relied on deceptive and unlawful tactics to pad its bottom line,” Bonta said. “Furnishing a home is expensive, and consumers often hope rent-to-own agreements will lessen the cost, not realizing the total price they pay will end up being much higher.” 

During a typical rent-to-own transaction, a consumer would pay on a weekly or monthly basis for the use of the product. According to Bonta's office, a rental agreement automatically renews for another week or month with each new payment. 

The title would then transfer to the consumer upon fulfillment of rental terms with a subset of consumers to pay a large premium to obtain ownership. 

Bonta’s office also alleges that Rent-A-Center misled consumers about the most fundamental aspects of the Preferred Lease product, such as the right to return the merchandise at any time with no penalty. 

Customers who rented merchandise from Rent-A-Center through its “kiosk” business located inside traditional retailers are eligible for restitution. Bonta's office said that eligible individuals will receive a notice at their last known mailing address.