By: Pamela A. Lee, Esquire
Want that cute puppy in the window? It could cost you significantly more than a pretty penny. Here’s how.
You—and possibly your family which may include a small child—are in the pet store and you (and your family which may include a small child) are in love. You absolutely need to take this adorable puppy home today.
Now it’s time to purchase the adorable puppy. But it costs more than you currently have in your bank account, or you just forgot to bring your credit card with you because, well, you weren’t intending to buy a puppy today. The pet store salesperson tells you “not to worry” because they have quick and easy financing that you complete right on your mobile phone. The salesperson might even assist you by scrolling down the pages of the electronic documents to the exact spot that you need to electronically sign to get approved. Voila! In mere minutes you are approved and you are bringing home your new puppy!
But watch out. Buried within the financing document that you did not read is language stating that you are actually leasing your pet. Yes, you read that correctly. Leasing your pet just like you can lease a car. And yes, at the end of the lease—lasting two years or more—you do not have any ownership interests in your pet. Instead, you must either return your pet or you pay a lump sum balloon payment to purchase the pet. Oftentimes, the terms of the lease also require you to pay an additional fee at end the lease (did you regularly bath and groom your pet as required in the lease contract?) or pay official fees and taxes on top of the lump sum payment to purchase your beloved pooch.
Want to terminate your lease early? You could be required to incur additional penalties and fees. Disturbingly, the leasing company can also take back your beloved pooch should you default on the lease.
During a pet purchase, the last thing on your mind is the possibility that you will not actually own your pet. Therefore, you should always read and understand exactly what you’re signing before you actually sign it. If the pet store misrepresents the terms of the agreement to you, it could be violating the law.
You should also know that when you lease your pet, you will likely pay at least twice – if not more – of what the original price was, with an effective interest rate of up to 170%. You’re thinking how can this be legal? It is. Unlike credit cards and installment loans that are subject to usury laws, financing companies are not capped on how much they can charge on a closed-end lease, like the pet lease.
What’s the bottom line? If you cannot afford to buy the pet, don’t finance it. If you do decide to finance it, read the contract and make sure you are not leasing it. And remember, always read any contract before you sign it. And if you need legal advice before you sign it, get it.
The Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP is a full-service law firm in Media, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We strive to help people, businesses and institutions throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania solve legal problems – and even prevent legal problems before they occur. To learn more about the full range of our specific practice areas, please visit www.dioriosereni.com or contact Pamela A. Lee, Esquire at 610-565-5700 or at [email protected]