Rent-a-Center Offers $350 Notebook for $1,299 in “Pre-Black Friday” Sale

It’s no secret that rent-to-own giant Rent-a-Center sells computers at an incredible markup, but the company’s new “Pre-Black Friday” deal stands out as one of its worst ever. In a commercial fronted by celebrity spokesmen Hulk Hogan and Troy Aikman, the store promotes a “Pre-Black Friday” deal on a low-end Acer AS5250 notebook that, at $24.99 a week for 52 weeks, ends up costing $1299.48.

The 15.6-inch Acer AS5250 Rent-a-Center sells is spec’ed with a lowly 1-GHz AMD C-50 CPU, 2GB of RAM, a 250GB hard drive, a 1366 x 768 screen, Windows 7 Home Premium, a .3-megapixel webcam, and a DVD-R drive. Without any sale pricing, Target sells the same Acer AS5250 with 3GB of RAM instead of 2GB for just $349.99.  That’s a 371 percent price markup for the privilege of paying in weekly installments.

As with every product it sells, Rent-a-Center allows you to stop paying at any time so you can return the product and lose your investment in it well before the 52-week period ends. However, after just 14 weeks, you’ll have already spent enough to cover the $349.99 this notebook would have cost you at Target.

If you’d rather invest your $24.99 a week in home theater, Rent-a-Center’s other major Pre-Black Friday deal involves a 46-inch Sony KDL46EX523 HDTV that will cost you $2,598.96 over a period of 24 months. Best Buy currently sells the same TV for just $949.99 and the big box retailer even offers an interest-free, 36-month financing plan that amounts to a monthly payment of $27.14 for those who cannot pony up the full amount at purchase time.

Rent-a-Center’s predatory pricing practices have been well documented by outlets such as Consumer Reports and the New York Daily News. “Avoid rent-to-own, even if it means postponing purchases until you can better afford them,” Consumer Reports advises. 

Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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