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Some consumers unemployed due to COVID-19 may be considering renting, rather than purchasing, furniture and appliances. While the monthly charges may be enticing, consumers should do their research to determine if they are really getting a good deal.

Better Business Bureau has received complaints from consumers throughout North America about these businesses. Common consumer complaints include receiving inferior goods and billing issues.

Those looking to purchase items through a rent-to-own business need to read the terms and conditions of the sale. Consumers often wind up paying well over what the item is worth because of interest that is added to the purchase price.

A woman from Forsyth reported to BBB that she purchased a love seat from a rent-to-own business in September 2019. The woman said the love seat broke soon after it was delivered. The woman said she had to wait a month and a half for a replacement, which wound up being damaged as well. She filed a complaint with BBB seeking the return of their money after the business failed to replace the damaged item.

A woman from Marion, Illinois, filed a complaint with BBB in September 2019 against a rent-to-own business. She claimed she was charged $250 for an insurance plan that she did not approve. She requested a full refund for money she paid.

Here are some BBB tips to consider when buying from a rent-to-own business:

Do the math. When looking to buy an item from a rent-to-own store, make sure you know what the interest rate is for the purchase. Interest rates on these purchases are often high, and you could pay more in interest than what the item is worth.

• Read the fine print. Know what happens in the event the item breaks down or is damaged while in your possession. Is there a fee if you decide to return the item before it is paid in full? Be aware of any other fees or costs that may be hidden in the contract.

• Keep track of payments. Make sure your payment records match that of the company. Make sure you pay on time to avoid any late fees or repossession by the rental company.

• Consult BBB. BBB has Business Profiles on many rent-to-own businesses. Before buying, check bbb.org or call 573-886-8965 to see what experiences other consumers have had with the business.

Michelle Gleba is the Mid-Missouri regional director for Better Business Bureau.

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