Service of a Pet Scam: A Sleazy Twist on Leasing

July 30th, 2018

Categories: Animals, Pets, Scams

Photo: dogtime.com

This post might have enhanced “Service of Did you Know That When You Bought or Rented It?” published early in July. Actually it slips in between. It’s about customers who thought they’d bought something that is usually purchased or given away but was actually rented to them.

Nancy Coleman wrote “Just Bought a New Puppy? It Might Be a Rental.” It shocked me because most pet people I’ve met are kind. Like millions, I fall in love with my animal family members and once ensconced in the household, they are there to stay.  A company structured to pull a fast one over people willing to adopt a pet is sick. With the exception of a movie production company, why would anyone want to rent an animal?

Photo: health.com

Leasing company Wags Lending thinks they do or at least that someone will fall for its scam. In her Wall Street Journal article Coleman wrote that the company, headquartered in Nevada, leases pets. The 20-something woman in her story inadvertently leased her Chihuahua, Remi, from an upstate NY pet store. She said to Coleman that “An employee at The Pet Zone, told her Remi’s list price was about $1,900, but according to the contract, the puppy would have cost more than twice as much—$4,370—after two years of paying about $180 a month.”

Photo: justpuppies.com

The victim ended up paying $540 for three months plus $1,900 for Remi plus a $300 leasing fee. She wasn’t alone. “Her story—documented in records from a fraud case brought by the New York Attorney General’s office in May against the pet-store chain, and recounted to the Journal—isn’t unusual. At least six other customers gave similar accounts about The Pet Zone, which has four outlets in New York, in depositions for the same continuing lawsuit.”

Like furniture and car leases, pet leases usually run from one to three years, and like furniture and cars, pets cost more at the end. However, should the pet die or run away, the lessee is still obligated to pay for it.

Meanwhile, the FTC has twice warned about this business model in blogs; a bill banning pet leasing is waiting for N.Y. Governor Cuomo’s signature—California and Nevada already have such a ban–and Coleman reported that Wags Lending’s parent company, Bristlecone Holdings, filed for bankruptcy last year.

Coleman wrote: “There are certain compliance requirements under the Consumer Leasing Act that come into play when stores advertise a leasing option, said Lesley Fair, a senior attorney in the FTC’s Division of Consumer and Business Education. The language used to explain the lease needs to be ‘clear and conspicuous,’ and understandable for consumers, she said.

“Businesses also specifically need to disclose how much consumers will have paid at the end of the leasing term and details about monthly payments.”

The pet industry, already at $86 billion, is expected to grow. No wonder there are bottom feeders poised to take advantage.

Have you run into a situation where you thought you were buying something but were actually leasing it? Do you agree that pets should not be leased from pet shops, period?

Photo: allpetsplace.com

 

 

 

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4 Responses to “Service of a Pet Scam: A Sleazy Twist on Leasing”

  1. Protius Said:

    What a hell of a story!

    Terrible! I can see why there would need to be theatrical leasing of animals, but I would have thought that, if only for PR purposes, producers would have used proper kennels, stables, etc., and professional handlers. These creeps should be put out of business forthwith.

    Leasing is fine for taxis and apartments, but not for living, breathing creatures.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Protius,

    The part of the story that doesn’t quite fit is how a person isn’t suspicious when they pay $180–a month’s “rent”–for a purebred dog that costs much more. Or maybe they make a down payment large enough that they think they’ve covered the price of the whole dog.

    Here’s hoping that Gov. Cuomo signs the bill in NY State, but that will make only three that outlaw the scammers and even if outlawed, people may continue to be fleeced. The concept might die a natural death if the parent company, that is already bankrupt, goes under. But imagine the nasty bent of the people who thought up the idea! They must be on the same wavelength as those who don’t see what’s wrong with separating children from their immigrant parents seeking asylum.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    These scams would take place less frequently, if at all, if the public adopted rather than bought pets. Those interested in specific breeds would do well to purchase from a reputable breeder rather than patronizing a pet store.

    Why lease, unless a military or trained security animal? If there is another good reason to do so, I’m all ears!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    Excellent point! I’ve not had a purebred and all but two of my pets were adopted. One came with my house and another was a rescue who was given to me. I paid something to Bide-A-Wee and to the SPCA for pets to help cover their expenses but it was reasonable and a bargain: you couldn’t have given me $1million for any of them once I fell in love–quite a return on “investment!”

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