Pets can be expensive. Specialty dog and cat breeds can cost thousands of dollars. In the past few years, options to finance a pet have become available. Unfortunately, some consumers have been devastated to find out the agreement they signed doesn’t give them ownership of the pet, instead they’ve signed a lease-to-own contract. These contracts can be costly—in some cases double the pet’s listed price. In addition, when the lease is up, the consumer may have to pay more money to take ownership of the pet.
Consider the example of one consumer who purchased a puppy from a pet store in Florida. The store advised her that she could get a credit card from Wags Lending and pay around $140 a month to own the pooch. She signed up for it on the computer and was shocked when she received the agreement. Although the dog cost $1,000, after financing costs, the price tag would total $3,495.50. Even worse, after paying this amount she would have to pay an additional $200 plus fees to own the canine. She explains in her complaint to Business Consumer Alliance that this information was not thoroughly explained to her and by the time she discovered the cost she had already fallen for the pup.
With the lease holder owning the pet, families run the risk of the pet basically being “repossessed” if a payment is missed. Also, if the pet is lost, stolen, dies or is killed, the consumer may not get a refund and could still be held liable for the payments.
In a couple of states, new laws have been enacted to ban pet leasing. In July 2017, Nevada outlawed the practice and as of January 1, 2018, California’s ban takes effect. If you’re considering purchasing a pet, make sure you know exactly what you’re buying before signing any contract. As you can see, lease to own options can be costly and risky. Read the terms of the agreement carefully. If the advertisement is unclear or the seller misrepresents the offer, contact BCA to file a complaint. And make it a habit to check out the business at www.checkbca.org.
Looking for a pet? A good place to start your search for a furry friend is at a local animal shelter. Check out our BCA directory for one in your area.
About Business Consumer Alliance
Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1928. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.