I like to watch a little TV before going to bed at night. It helps me to unwind. With Christmas around the corner, I’ve already noticed an uptick in holiday movies. It’s crazy how many of these combine Christmas and dogs: I Want a Dog for Christmas, A puppy for Christmas, A Dog for Christmas, and there is even one called A Dog Named Christmas.
I know you always hear that Christmas is not the best time to get a new pet and there are many very good reasons why you shouldn’t. But with that being said, my parents, oh I mean Santa, brought us a puppy for Christmas one year a long time ago. My perspective as a kid: It. Was. Awesome!
But here’s the thing, if you are planning on expanding your family and getting a new pet this holiday season, buyer beware! I recently read an article by the Federal Trade Commission that warned consumers about pet stores that are leasing pets. That’s correct, pets for rent! Evidently, people have gone into pet stores to purchase a puppy. And since many are quite expensive—thousands of dollars—the new owners (and I use that term loosely) end up setting up payment plans with the pet stores. They later find out that what they unintentionally signed was actually a leasing agreement. They did not purchase their new puppy at all, but are leasing it instead. If they actually want to own it, they must pay extra at the end of their expensive leasing agreement, similar to let’s say a car lease.
I was stunned when I read that article, I had never heard of anything like this before. It’s not like I didn’t believe the article, but I also thought I’d do a quick Google Search to find out how prevalent this problem is. What I found out was even more shocking. Yes, pet leasing is a thing and a lot of people are not happy about it!
During my research I found that each one of these pet leasing stories had one thing in common, a company called Wags Lending.
In an article by Bloomberg, there was this one lady out in California who “purchased” a puppy for $2400. Later, when the woman and her husband were going over their credit report they saw a charge for $5800 from a company they’d never heard of. After a lot of investigating they found the company Wags Lending had assigned the contract to another firm. Long story short, when she asked the company how she could owe $5800 for a $2400 dog? They answered, “You’re not financing the dog, you’re leasing.”
Cat lovers in Florida thought they were buying a kitten for $1700. Later they found out they were responsible for 32 monthly payments of $129, which equates to $4100. They were told if they didn’t want to make all the payments, they could just return the rental—their kitten.
The owner of Wags Lending, Dusty Wunderlich, has done is homework and evidently what he is doing is legal—at least so far it is. He came up with this business back in 2013. In just over three years, his company has originated 66,000 leases for just over $100 million. He says the company is transparent about the lease structure in its contract and the company relies on retailers to communicate the terms of the contract which sometimes leads to confusion. “We like niches where we’re dealing with emotional borrowers,” Wunderlich is quoted in the Bloomberg article. But the article also states that if a person feels misled, the company, wants to work out a way for them to get out of the contract.
So, if you are looking to purchase a puppy on payments, please be careful, your new best friend might end up being only a rental.
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