Rent-To-Own Industry’s Critics Make Last-Minute Plea To Eliminate Budget Proposal


Critics of the rent-to-own industry made a last-minute plea today to kill a plan that would make it exempt from consumer protection laws.

There’s nothing preventing rent-to-own stores from operating in Wisconsin right now, but in practice the Wisconsin Consumer Act has kept them from thriving here. That’s because the act requires rent-to-own stores to tell customers how much interest they will pay if they want to buy an item. Typically those rates can run into the hundreds of dollars.

A provision in Governor Scott Walker’s budget would change that if lawmakers give the OK. Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) pleaded with legislators on the Joint Finance Committee to remove it from the budget when it’s up for a vote later today.

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“What it comes down to is that the rent-to-own industry asked Governor Walker for a gift. They don’t want to have to disclose their interest rate and true cost to consumers or comply with other pesky transparency hassles under Wisconsin’s Consumer Act.”

Hintz and others spoke from a lectern with a sign on it reading “Wisconsin is Open For Predatory Business” in the same font and style used by Governor Walker in some of his famous “Open For Business” signs.

Joining the press conference was Linda Ketcham, Director of the Madison-Area Urban Ministry: “Wisconsin may be open for business, but that doesn’t mean we have to sell our souls.”

Rent-to-own was the first item on the budget committee’s agenda today, but GOP lawmakers set it aside until later. Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), who sits on the panel, is an outspoken opponent of rent-to-own, but he needs eight lawmakers to join him to defeat it in committee.