all of today's podcasts by clicking play next to the selected
Click on a vendor to hear today's
Podcasts from the RentDirect Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
RTO Podcasts from Monday, August 21, 2006
Click images to enlarge
Bertolani, SED International
Al Benson, Central File Marketing
Councill, Baseline Licensing Group
Rosen, Florida State Games
Tim Moore, DSI
Vendors shared their thoughts on everything from the status of
the rental industry to what items will be this holiday season’s
must-haves (only 18 weekends until Christmas!). Plus, we
discussed how best to attract customers to your rental store and
why opening a second concept (think wheels) might be the best
way to diversity your business.
Prime Time Buying Show began Monday. RTO Online recorded
podcasts with seven key suppliers Monday; Al Benson, Central File Marketing, Brown Councill, Baseline Licensing Group, Dennis
Rosen, Florida State Games, Ellison
Crider, RSSS, Kevin
Leary, RIMCO, Mike
Bertolani, SED International and Tim Moore, DSI. Listen
to all of today's podcasts by clicking play next to the selected
See a complete photo gallery of Monday's tradeshow here (108
Nationwide is reporting record attendance at the PrimeTime show.
"We have 35 more
vendors here than we've ever had before," said Nationwide
President Ed Kelly. "We also broke the
previous record for buyer attendance by over 300 people."
Attendance is up 15% from February of this year.
Kelly is particularly excited about the profit opportunities
being generated by innovations in appliance and electronics
categories. "Front loading laundry and other innovations are
making appliances profitable again."
Kelly said market penetration of flat panel TVs has already
reached the magic 17% threshold. Historically, he explained,
once a new technology reaches 17% penetration, it can grow to
40-45% within two or three years.
In an Rent to Own legal update held separately, Ed
Winn, General Counsel for the Association of Progressive Rental
Organizations (APRO), said he has reversed previous guidance on
contacting references for collections; the long-shunned practice
is now acceptable as long as previous consent is obtained. Winn
stated that rental dealers should now feel comfortable calling
references to discuss late payments or even skips/stolens, as
long as the customer has given the store approval to discuss
their default on an agreement with their listed references.
This change in guidance means rental dealers can now use contact
information for references to help track down merchandise they
might otherwise have no chance of getting back. As expected,
there are still rules to follow. According to Winn, “In addition
to the fact that you must get the customer’s approval when they
sign the agreement, if a customer calls and requests that you
stop calling their mother or landlord or employer, then you must
Winn also recommended that all rental dealers add a clause to
rental agreements requiring that any disputes be handled through
mandatory arbitration rather than through the court system.
Mandatory arbitration clauses have long been a staple of
commercial contracts, and the United States Supreme Court has
twice blessed the use of mandatory arbitration despite the fact
that customers, in essence, waive their Constitutional right to
have their day in court when they agree to such an arrangement.
Winn said the other major benefit to a mandatory arbitration
requirement is that, in most states, class action law suits are
Winn recommends that rental dealers perform an annual legal
checkup of their store paperwork to insure compliance with all
applicable laws. Winn says that a 25% failure rate is common
when he reviews agreements sent to him by rental dealers. The
most common errors include blank sections, missing signatures
and notes handwritten in the margins by store employees to the
customer. By appointing a person within your company as the head
of legal compliance, Winn hopes more dealers can catch the small
problems before they turn into something bigger.
Winn also reviewed recent developments within the legislature
with regard to rent-to-own, and also revisited the basic
elements of the Perez case in New Jersey that is likely, he
says, to end with a multi-million dollar settlement being paid
“This customer had five agreements opened over eight months. The
value of those agreements was $18,000 and the woman’s weekly
rental payments were $172. When you load up somebody that heavy
it is a dangerous situation,” observed Winn. In the Perez case,
Rent A Center sued Perez for non-payment causing the customer to
counter sue. According to Winn, “Suing customers is risky
business.” Winn recommends that one person in your company,
preferably the owner, be the only person with the power to file
lawsuits against customers.
“I’m not saying don’t ever sue anybody, but be aware it is one
of those places in our business where risk resides. And you, as
an owner, should not let an assistant manager be in charge of
filing lawsuits,” said Winn.
Other situations facing the industry include a recent
development in Buffalo, New York. There, the City Council is
considering regulating the rental business, thanks to publicity
generated in the wake of a study published by the Brookings
Institute called “The Poor Pay More”. There is also a bill
pending in New York State to limit the cash price of an item to
a comparable retail price plus just 25%, regardless of the
length of the agreement. Winn commented on Senator Chuck
Schumer’s recent plan to introduce the RTO Consumer Protection
Act and push for federal legislation that could essentially
outlaw the rental industry as it exists today.
Winn expressed confidence that these movements against the
industry will fade away, but reminded rental dealers to be
careful their business practices are well within the state
statues for their area.
The Nationwide RentDirect show and RTO Online’s exclusive
coverage continues tomorrow from Las Vegas.
RTO Online is the official channel for Rent-to-Own Industry News and the
only independent source of news for the rent-to-own, rental-purchase,
lease-purchase trade. RTO Online (Rent to Own Online) represents the choice
of the entire RTO Industry for trusted information, as it happens.