Nationwide investigation finds multiple complaints against Rent-A-Center

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - They claim to have a "worry-free guarantee."

But is that true about Rent-A-Centers in South Carolina?

After going through thousands of data entries nationwide we found there have been several complaints against the company here in South Carolina over the last couple of years.

"Pay how you want, a little at a time."

For many, this slogan is why they choose Rent-A-Center.

"I guess I do it because if you don't have the money to do it with cash you rent it," said Barbara Delapaz, a customer of Rent-A-Center.

Delepaz said she's never really had problems, and pretty much everything in her house is from Rent-A-Center.

"My experience has been great," Delapaz said. "I've been doing it for 15 to 16 years. But yeah they're great. I've had no problem with them."

But does everyone feel that same way?

Our parent company, Raycom, did some digging and found not everyone is happy with the company.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, Raycom received 2,779 complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission about Rent-A-Center since the beginning of January 2016.

2,586 complaints were about the company's debt collection practices.156 people complained they were being called and/or harassed over a debt that wasn't there.

829 complained they were unable to get a payment history or their account was paid off but showing as still due. And 70 complained erroneous information ended up on their credit reports. Those numbers are from across the nation.

So where does South Carolina stack up?

There are dozens of Rent-A-Centers across the state. Five locations had complaints against them through the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs since the beginning of 2016.

Those locations include:

  • 514 Lamar Hwy, Darlington
  • 2315 Augusta Rd, West Columbia
  • 1317 N Main St, Summerville
  • 14027 E Wade Hampton Blvd, Greer
  • 227 Robertson Blvd, Walterboro

Juliana Harris with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs said because the data is so little, she doesn't know if all of the Rent-A-Centers in South Carolina are doing what they should or if it's an under reported number.

But with the data we do have, Harris said most of them have to do with debt collection practices.

Four out of the five complaints in the Palmetto state were in regards to "unconscionable debt collection." The complaints include "wanting phone calls to stop, wants collection to stop, business is threatening consumer and threatening and embarrassing collection methods."

"Those are some tactics that debt collectors will do is contacting your employer and people you know and come to your home to try and repossess the property," Harris said.

The biggest problem Consumer Affairs has with the company, Harris said, is lot of times people end up paying two and three times the amount the item is actually worth, and they don't want people taken advantage of.

"Just asking what the total cost of the total item is going to be by the end of your term or contract. That's what you want to know," Harris added.

Consumer Affairs recommends, if you do use the company, know exactly what you're agreeing to and read the contract thoroughly.

In response to our story, Gina Hethock, Rent-A-Center's Senior Manager of Public and Community Relations, said, "Our mission is to improve our customers' quality of life, providing access to durable goods for cash- and credit-constrained consumers and serving as a welcome hand up amid a sea of thumbs down."

If you'd like to make a complaint with the Department of Consumer Affairs, you can go here. 

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