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119 comments

All I can say to that is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45223247)

who??

Re:All I can say to that is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45223491)

When I lived on the East coast of the US, I used to see "Aaron's rents furniture..." ads all the time. It never made sense to me because furniture isn't that expensive. Used furniture from the thrift was always a better deal. Maybe it made sense for offices renting in bulk; but they were definitely pitching to consumers too. Anyway, I digress. They're well known on the East coast; but I haven't seen any of their ads on California.

Re:All I can say to that is... (5, Informative)

lordofthechia (598872) | about 9 months ago | (#45223729)

It's a rent to own store and from a brief stint working in one (quite a few years ago) I can say that most of the clients were people who had bad credit and too poor or unable to save enough to buy *new* furniture/electronics outright.

How it works? They take full MSRP (which usually gives you 100% markup) double *that* price then divide up into payments. So as an example a living room set with a $1500 MSRP (which probably cost them $700) would end up being $125 a month OR $57.70 a week (Easy Payments!). If the customer paid through the two years required to own it they would have paid $3000 for a couch they could have gotten for sale elsewhere for about $1200.

The horrendous markup is more visible in electronics (a PS2 in it's day would have cost someone close to $1000 by the end of the year rent-to-own period).

You are totally correct. The best situation for a consumer in that situation is to get furniture from either Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Craigslist, or the local newspaper classifieds. If they still want *new* furniture, then they can enjoy the used stuff till they save enough to buy what they really want outright (and re-sell the used item).

Working that job made me realize that schools *must* have a personal finances class which goes over budgeting, avoiding scams, and setting up an affordable household.

Re:All I can say to that is... (2)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 9 months ago | (#45223823)

Just another example of how some scheme up ways to take advantage of those than haven't any means.

Another case of someone making their money off the class that can least afford to support themselves much less someone else.

We still have those RtO centers here, I'm not surprised they do as well as they do. Personally until a year ago my family was using a tv I had gotten from my brother that he was going to throw out during a move because the vertical hold was gone. I took it home and replaced a $0.25 resistor and we used it for a bit over a year before we caught a flat screen Samsung on sale at Target for less than $200. Prior to that we had the tv we had purchased from Wally world when we got married 17 years ago, and it was working just fine.

I've never really been one to have to have the latest and greatest gadgets, to me they are just gimmicks to separate you from your money for something you get convinced you can't live without. Of course that didn't apply to computers with me.

Re:All I can say to that is... (3, Insightful)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 9 months ago | (#45224053)

A fool and their money were lucky to get together in the first place.

It's an immoral act to let a sucker keep his money.

Until they force someone to rent from them they aren't doing anything wrong.

Re:All I can say to that is... (1)

jxander (2605655) | about 9 months ago | (#45226375)

What about when a concerted effort is made to keep the fools foolish?

Should we let the "suckers" starve to death, vis a vis Darwinism?

Or should we work to cure their foolishness? Enlighten them to the error of their logic.

Re:All I can say to that is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45227351)

A fool and their money were lucky to get together in the first place.

It's an immoral act to let a sucker keep his money.

This is the reason, why Smith&Wesson beats four aces in poker, riiight?
But it was long ago in far far west ...

Re:All I can say to that is... (1)

sjames (1099) | about 9 months ago | (#45228153)

Other than sneaking voyeur photos of adults and children, banking details, various account passwords, etc.

That and preying on the least financially savvy. Indeed, many people do find that to be morally wrong.

Re:All I can say to that is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45224067)

There is a reason why people have made up statements like "buyer beware". It is each person's personal responsibility to make financial decisions for themselves. If it weren't for these poor decision-makers, these shops would not exist.

Re:All I can say to that is... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45226421)

This is going to sound racist... but oh well.

Aaron's (and Rent-a-center, and similar) customer base is mostly African Americans with lack of means and poor impulse control. These are people who *need* to have a 40-50" flat panel (50-60" big screen in CRT days) in their home, and would rather fork over $120 / month for 12-24 months and have the TV today rather than save that $120 for 4 months and buy a better one outright. A nice portion of the issue is alcohol + pot use such that these fools can't hold onto money for that long.

Similarly, they won't go with Craigslist or freecycle for furniture because they know how poorly they treat furniture. Sure a couch is a great place for sex, but clean up after you finish... Same with automobiles (seriously, what the hell is the problem with uneducated black men not cleaning up semen).

Some of the poor Hispanics and a very narrow portion of white trash, but those numbers continually dwindle as education increases in the Hispanic community.

Re:All I can say to that is... (5, Interesting)

dforreal (1078047) | about 9 months ago | (#45223839)

It serves a useful purpose, if you use it for a short term needs. When I was an undergraduate in upstate New York, the "College Housing" cartels charged more than double the market rate for furnished apartments with shorter-term leases. It made far more sense to rent an unfurnished apartment intended for the locals with a one year lease, and just pay the extra rent for the two months most of us weren't there in the summer. Since most 18-21 year olds don't own furniture, nor wanted to be responsible for moving / storing / dealing with it. we could annually rent a full living room set with a big television - no one was responsible for buying it, we didn't have to split up possessions between roommates at the end of the year, and splitting the cost of all of it between four guys for 8-10 months was reasonable. At the end of the academic term we would call up the rental company and have them pick it all up. Next fall, we'd get the latest and greatest for that year delivered and moved in. rinse and repeat.

Re:All I can say to that is... (2)

lordofthechia (598872) | about 9 months ago | (#45224477)

splitting the cost of all of it between four guys for 8-10 months was reasonable

Seems reasonable. And for short term stuff (table for thanksgiving, big TV for Superbowl, bed for temporary guests, etc) it's fine. However the vast majority of people don't use it like this.

That said at 8 months (and a usual term of 24 months Rent to Own) you've paid up 8/24 = 1/3rd of the inflated cost. So for my example of the living room set, you and your roommates would have paid $1000 of a $1500 (full retail) living room set. At 10 months you would have paid $1250 (sale price for the item at a regular furniture store).

If you must have "new" stuff and you don't want to deal with selling/donating it at the end of the school year then it'll work. However if you don't mind used, you can furnish an entire (temporary/first) apartment for much less and make back some money at the end by re-selling or donating (and getting a tax break).

As an example my roommate and I furnished our apartment with about $200 from the salvation army, $100 for my waterbed (no bed bugs!), and whatever he spent on his bed. The $200 from the Salvation Army got us a living room set, entertainment center, desks, second couch (we went during the weekend auctions). At the end we just re-donated the stuff.

Re:All I can say to that is... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 9 months ago | (#45224559)

Not to mention, if you're paying for the extra 2 months on a regular 1 year lease on the apartment anyway, why not just buy the furniture and leave it there over the summer? Then, for bonus points, you can just renew the lease, keep living there next school year and not have to move in and out at all!

Re:All I can say to that is... (2, Interesting)

dforreal (1078047) | about 9 months ago | (#45224721)

The whole point of not buying the furniture was to avoid the mess of having to donate/sell/move/divide/store it at the end of an academic year; the whole "who gets what" situation, since roommates usually changed from year to year (Someone graduates / gets sick of living with you etc). As a general rule the landlords would NOT renew leases from year to year once they realized you were actually a student since most of them also owned the aformentioned "Student Housing" where they could get quite the markup. I always managed to get a "locals" apartment initially by presenting an ID with an in-town address and showing a paystub from the pharmaceutical company I worked for part time. Was it legal for them to discriminate in this way? Probably not. Was it widespread, yes. At the end of the day, It worked for the three years I needed to play the game while living there.

Re:All I can say to that is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45224601)

Just an FYI, while bed bugs do enjoy living in mattresses, they will very often take root in any crevice they can find, such as where wood joins on a hard sided waterbed, or even in the nooks and crannies of the wheels of a bedframe.

I'd consider water beds bedbug resistant, but never bedbug proof. :)

Re:All I can say to that is... (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 9 months ago | (#45227541)

It serves a useful purpose, if you use it for a short term needs. When I was an undergraduate in upstate New York, the "College Housing" cartels charged more than double the market rate for furnished apartments with shorter-term leases. It made far more sense to rent an unfurnished apartment intended for the locals with a one year lease, and just pay the extra rent for the two months most of us weren't there in the summer. Since most 18-21 year olds don't own furniture, nor wanted to be responsible for moving / storing / dealing with it. we could annually rent a full living room set with a big television - no one was responsible for buying it, we didn't have to split up possessions between roommates at the end of the year, and splitting the cost of all of it between four guys for 8-10 months was reasonable. At the end of the academic term we would call up the rental company and have them pick it all up. Next fall, we'd get the latest and greatest for that year delivered and moved in. rinse and repeat.

Nice. We'd rent a house, hit up the goodwill/classfied ads (no craigslist in those days), and not worry about it. Shit would get thrashed, would never be able to rent it, because we'd have to pay full price for it because it would be damaged. Why? Because we were a bunch of 18+ year olds, living on our own and had no adult supervision. We'd have parties, because, well it's college and that is what you do. TV? why, we were in college, if we weren't partying, we were maybe studying.

Re:All I can say to that is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45223913)

Screw second hand furniture. You never know if there are bed bugs in them. Bed bugs don't infest just beds.

Re:All I can say to that is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45224133)

Don't buy anything upholstered used.

Un-upholstered stuff is fine.

Re:All I can say to that is... (3, Funny)

EvilSS (557649) | about 9 months ago | (#45224303)

This is why all of my furniture is made from steel reinforced concrete. Sure, the pillows are a bit hard, but it's a small cost for peace of mind!

Re:All I can say to that is... (2)

Nyder (754090) | about 9 months ago | (#45227561)

This is why all of my furniture is made from steel reinforced concrete. Sure, the pillows are a bit hard, but it's a small cost for peace of mind!

Sorry to hear that you are in county lock up.

Re:All I can say to that is... (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 9 months ago | (#45224539)

Wrap them in a dark blanket and leave them in the sun for a day or three.

Re:All I can say to that is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45224171)

The best situation for a consumer in that situation is to get furniture from either Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Craigslist, or the local newspaper classifieds.

or Freecycle. Most of my furniture was free. I am a pet owner, so I don't want or need nice furniture that would just be destroyed in short order. When I get tired of my existing shitty free furniture, I give it away for free again on Freecycle and have the new owners pick it up, or I just drag it into the back yard and set it on fire.

Re:All I can say to that is... (1)

crakbone (860662) | about 9 months ago | (#45227003)

I hope you don't live in an apartment.

Re:All I can say to that is... (5, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#45224237)

Working that job made me realize that schools *must* have a personal finances class which goes over budgeting, avoiding scams, and setting up an affordable household.

The public schools already teach this. My daughter is in high school, and she had the class last year. It is called "Life Skills". They learn to budget and invest. They write a resume, dress in business attire, and attend a mock job interview. They also learn to plan and cook meals using a budget and nutritional information. It is an elective class, but nearly everyone takes it (it is an easy A, plus you get to make and eat cookies).

The problem is that some people are just fundamentally stupid and irresponsible. No amount of education is going to fix that. The main problem is that these people can vote, so their irresponsibility is inflicted on all of us. If you run up twice your disposable income in credit card debt to pay for useless bling, then why shouldn't the government do the same?

Re:All I can say to that is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45224613)

I have honestly never heard of something like that before your post outside of people much older than I am talking about their high school home ec classes. It's great that your daughter's high school has such a class; I agree with the GP that everyone should have a class like that in high school or before.

Re:All I can say to that is... (1)

suutar (1860506) | about 9 months ago | (#45225509)

I wish I'd had that class. Mine went over how to read bank statements and balance a checkbook, but nothing about resumes, interviewing, nutrition...

it's a way of thinking... (1)

schlachter (862210) | about 9 months ago | (#45225619)

it's instilled in us by our parent, friends, family, and community.
it's also common sense, so even those who don't get it from the above sources can reason their way through what they should be spending.
too many people just don't care, and live life on the edge, out of disregard for themselves, and the others that pick up the bill when the fall.

Re:All I can say to that is... (1)

vlpronj (1345627) | about 9 months ago | (#45225869)

I used to do summer programs with out-of-school youth, geared to help them get a job, and keep it loner than the average first job. One of the biggest things we did was wake them up to the "Real World". Shady salesmen, illegal interview questions, lots of roleplay stuff.

Re:All I can say to that is... (4, Insightful)

Nyder (754090) | about 9 months ago | (#45227583)

Working that job made me realize that schools *must* have a personal finances class which goes over budgeting, avoiding scams, and setting up an affordable household.

The public schools already teach this. My daughter is in high school, and she had the class last year. It is called "Life Skills". They learn to budget and invest. They write a resume, dress in business attire, and attend a mock job interview. They also learn to plan and cook meals using a budget and nutritional information. It is an elective class, but nearly everyone takes it (it is an easy A, plus you get to make and eat cookies).

The problem is that some people are just fundamentally stupid and irresponsible. No amount of education is going to fix that. The main problem is that these people can vote, so their irresponsibility is inflicted on all of us. If you run up twice your disposable income in credit card debt to pay for useless bling, then why shouldn't the government do the same?

You can not learn enough "Life Skills" in a semester of school. It's shit your parents need to teach you growing up.

Re:All I can say to that is... (2)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | about 9 months ago | (#45224697)

Reminds me of the lyrics to "Good Times" theme song;
Temporary lay offs. - Good Times.
Easy credit rip offs. - Good Times.
Scratchin’ and surviving. - Good Times.
Hangin in a chow line - Good Times.
Ain’t we lucky we got ‘em - Good Times.

Re:All I can say to that is... (1)

niftymitch (1625721) | about 9 months ago | (#45226533)

....snip....

Working that job made me realize that schools *must* have a personal finances class which goes over budgeting, avoiding scams, and setting up an affordable household.

Yes.
I might note that the financial shell games that schools and local
governments play make me doubt that schools and local governments
understand money and finances at all.

I recently saw the below. Note how there was no mention of "your tax dollars".
Note that the locals spending the money did not have to levy the tax but rather
benefited from a larger taxation organization. Because the money is a 'grant'
the only option is to spend. This spending at more than arms length makes
it so very hard to budget and act responsibly. No wonder the national debt
is beyond comprehension and beyond reform:

The below quote is not from the previous poster but is from the local web....

....POLICE DEPARTMENT RECEIVES GRANT FOR SPECIAL TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT AND CRASH PREVENTION

Activities that the grant will fund include:

  Specialized DUI and drugged driving training such as Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST), Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE), and Drug Recognition Evaluator (DRE).
  DUI Saturation Patrols
  Motorcycle safety enforcement
  Distracted driving enforcement
  Seat belt and child safety seat enforcement
  Speed, red light and stop sign enforcement
  Warrant service operations targeting multiple DUI offenders
  Compilation of DUI “Hot Sheets,” identifying worst-of-the-worst DUI offenders
  Stakeout operations to observe the “worst of the worst” repeat DUI offender probationers with suspended or revoked driver licenses
  Purchase of speed measuring and preliminary alcohol screening devices

Funding for this program is from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

I might add that in war it is common to dehumanize the enemy and call them by some vilify-able
arms length name. It seems to me that "grant" and other "program funding" names are being substituted to
free those spending these often outrageous and large funds from the moral responsibility
that they should be exercising. Further local elections do not have the reach to put an end to
this shell game.

Demand that ALL funds be accounted for and that local expenditures fully account
for all expenses as if the money was local.

Re:All I can say to that is... (1)

niftymitch (1625721) | about 9 months ago | (#45226607)

While I can reply close to my previous post, toss this into "Google"
"Specialized DUI and drugged driving training such as Standardized Field Sobriety Testing"

I get +900 results consider that this short little letter is one of a thousand, perhaps thousands.

Re:All I can say to that is... (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about 9 months ago | (#45226615)

If the customer paid through the two years required to own it they would have paid $3000 for a couch they could have gotten for sale elsewhere for about $1200.

Except they couldn't have got it elsewhere because they couldn't pay $1200 all at once.

Yeah, it's expensive to be poor. But it's still better than not being able to have stuff at all.

Re:All I can say to that is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45225289)

Maybe it made sense for offices renting in bulk

Businesses renting office furniture is pretty normal...they just don't rent from places like Aarons.

Government hates competition... (1)

mi (197448) | about 9 months ago | (#45223285)

I wonder, if the NSA (with their own bugs) has anonymously helped FTC prosecute this case the way they help [rt.com] ATF, DEA, and even local police prosecute theirs.

Re:Government hates competition... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45223513)

hell the goverment probably forced them to do it, after all as we all know private industry would never do shit like this if it werent for goverment regulation and tax theft. ayn rand was right again.

Re:Government hates competition... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45224033)

Ayn Rand was an evil, hateful hag. People who quote her are almost always ignorant to some of the tripe and hate she espoused. The right wing hold her up like some saviour. She should be denigrated for the witch that she was.

Re:Government hates competition... (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | about 9 months ago | (#45224365)

Prolly wanna turn down the squelch setting on your sarcasm detector a little . . . .

A settlement? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45223291)

I would do jail time if I tried to pull that shit.

Re:A settlement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45223595)

On these sort of cases, corporations are not people.

Re:A settlement? (2)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 9 months ago | (#45224087)

On these sort of cases, corporations are not people.

But all the decisions and actions of a corporation will be decided/done by people. Whoever decided to install the spyware should be personally held liable and prosecuted. If no one will admit to it, then the company directors should carry the can.

Re:A settlement? (4, Insightful)

flogger (524072) | about 9 months ago | (#45223793)

Yes you would do time.

because

You are not the government.

You are not a corporation.

You are not wealthy enough to own lawyers.

You are not wealthy enough to own politician.

Re:A settlement? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 9 months ago | (#45228265)

Jail time? You'd do that and then be a registered sex offender for activating the webcams.

less sinister than the summary makes it out to be (1)

schneidafunk (795759) | about 9 months ago | (#45223325)

Settlements are not admissions of guilt in the court of law, but certainly implies it. So the company added tracking software for this purpose: "The software was included on laptops and desktops so Aaron’s and its franchisees could recover unreturned computer equipment.". Granted it collected too much info.

Re:less sinister than the summary makes it out to (1)

sjames (1099) | about 9 months ago | (#45228299)

And did so without regard to payment status. And they activated the webcams.

IF they had confined that exclusively to cases where the rental was past due or lapsed strictly for the purpose of recovering the equipment, it would be a bit less sinister.

First thing I do when I buy a new computer (1)

areusche (1297613) | about 9 months ago | (#45223349)

Whether it is some random PC or even a Mac, I always pop in the original OS disk and wipe it clean. I don't trust software that came from someplace other then me watching it install. Granted, the restore DVD probably isn't any safer, but it is the thought that counts!

Re:First thing I do when I buy a new computer (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | about 9 months ago | (#45223409)

If these were "rental", people probably didn't have an original OS disk. And messing with the system like that would probably be considered a flag that someone was trying to steal it. At the very least, it would be against the lease, like modifying a leased car.

Re:First thing I do when I buy a new computer (3)

Deadstick (535032) | about 9 months ago | (#45223505)

IANAL, but "rent-to-own" seldom really functions as a rental; it's effectively an installment sales contract in which you pay more interest than your state allows on real installment loans, in return for having walk-away rights.

Re:First thing I do when I buy a new computer (3)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 9 months ago | (#45223691)

IANAL, but "rent-to-own" seldom really functions as a rental; it's effectively an installment sales contract in which you pay more interest than your state allows on real installment loans, in return for having walk-away rights.

Although this is their target market, the "rent-to-own" purchases by the payday cash loan crowd, no sane people should
ever use them to actually buy something as the price is usually double or more before you're finished.
Using them as a rental is actually fairly reasonable though if you need furniture for a month or a big TV for a superbowl party.

Re:First thing I do when I buy a new computer (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 9 months ago | (#45224699)

Using them as a rental is actually fairly reasonable though if you need furniture for a month or a big TV for a superbowl party.

Ironically, most of Aarons' customers would use Wal-Mart for that (i.e., they'd "buy" the TV the day before the Superbowl, return it the day after, and thus spend nothing on the "rental").

Re:First thing I do when I buy a new computer (2)

tompaulco (629533) | about 9 months ago | (#45223725)

IANAL, but "rent-to-own" seldom really functions as a rental; it's effectively an installment sales contract in which you pay more interest than your state allows on real installment loans, in return for having walk-away rights.

Quite right. With the addition that when you miss one of the usury payments, they take the stuff back, often after you have paid several multiples of the retail price of the item.

Re:First thing I do when I buy a new computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45224129)

Do you realize that almost all states have mandatory reinstatement periods? California's for example is 1 year. If they take the stuff back, you have up to a year in CA to reinstate your account at where you were without losing any of the equity you had paid toward the goods.

Re:First thing I do when I buy a new computer (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 9 months ago | (#45226619)

Do you realize that almost all states have mandatory reinstatement periods? California's for example is 1 year. If they take the stuff back, you have up to a year in CA to reinstate your account at where you were without losing any of the equity you had paid toward the goods.

Why, no I didn't know that. But then again, I don't buy from rent-to-own places.
I'm sure it is noted in the small print somewhere, if state law also requires for them to inform the customer, but I would bet that they don't exactly call attention to that fact.

Re:First thing I do when I buy a new computer (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45224093)

Apparently they weren't "rent-to-own" but rent-to-be-pwned.

Re:First thing I do when I buy a new computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45224105)

What do you base that assumption on? It's actually not true. Its a popular viewpoint among people and politicians who do not like the industry, but have you ever actually looked into the outcomes of these rentals? http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1138&context=econ_fac

Re:First thing I do when I buy a new computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45223565)

What a bunch of horseshit.
A computer isn't an appliance with only an off and on switch. It is a multifunction tool and set of interfaces. Reloading the OS is totally legit, and the fact that the technology cartels make it difficult to reload (not providing a vanilla OS install media, and clean, non-vendorized drivers) is proof that they don't consider you a valuable customer.

Always use dd to zero out the disk and then install from vanilla OS media. Get tools to change the license to use the ROM programmed OEM license if included in the hardware/software bundle (aka computer)

Re:First thing I do when I buy a new computer (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 9 months ago | (#45223737)

I have copies of the OEM versions of Vista and Windows 7 Home variants downloaded from Digital River. I have reinstalled Windows on several Acer and HP machines from these discs. Yes, you have to phone the 1-800 number to activate them, but for five minutes out of my life I have a legit Windows box without crapware or spyware. Okay, I do have to track down drivers in most cases, but still, it's worth the effort.

Re:First thing I do when I buy a new computer (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 9 months ago | (#45223843)

People who rent from Aaron's don't have the money to buy and maintain uninstalled legitimate versions of Windows.

Re:First thing I do when I buy a new computer (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 9 months ago | (#45225001)

I guess my point is that it didn't cost me anything, except a little time.

Re:First thing I do when I buy a new computer (1)

Aryden (1872756) | about 9 months ago | (#45223857)

Same here, fragged the new dell laptop from windows 8 to windows 7 as a vanilla install and just plugged in the appropriate drivers. I do this for any and all friends/customers that want a cheap machine but dont want the bloatware.

Re:First thing I do when I buy a new computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45224551)

Worse, they had a special chip installed to survive wipes and enable some of the advanced functionality. Hardware hack beats software hack each and every time.

Re:First thing I do when I buy a new computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45224583)

I don't even use a restore CD or DVD, as it usually comes with the same crapware that likely is on the machine. I prefer to before anything else, boot an image utility, image off the drives (so I can replace it exactly as before), put the external drive with the images somewhere safe, boot DBAN and erase all the machine's drives thoroughly (this also helps with a burn-in and making sure the drives actually read/write.)

I then throw on a separately licensed copy of Windows, load drivers, enable FDE encryption (BitLocker if Windows 8 or newer, TrueCrypt if Windows 7 or older), and go from there.

If I need to turn the machine back in, a quick DBAN and reload of the original data makes anything stored on there inaccessible to any snoops barring a hardware device (KeyKatcher, etc.)

Re:First thing I do when I buy a new computer (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about 9 months ago | (#45226635)

The typical Rent-To-Own customer is not likely to know to do this, nor to have the skills to do this.

Some of us will say that they deserve what they get for not hiring a professional to administer their personal computer, since they sure as hell don't know what they're doing.

The fix for this is simple. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45223365)

Going forward, there should be rules in place that state "any willful act of spying, surveillance, or rootkit-type activity results in immediate dissolution of the company involved and the monies given to government for use in prosecuting further infractions. Unless this kind of activity carries severely ugly penalties, it will continue unabated. While we're at it, let's make all tracking illegal -- as it should be.

Re:The fix for this is simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45223507)

Silly rabbit, spying is for the NSA. I doubt they will dissolve themselves.

Let me guess, no jail time (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 9 months ago | (#45223451)

I wonder if I would get a simple fine if I systematically hacked into thousands of people's computers to watch "intimate moments."

Re:Let me guess, no jail time (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 9 months ago | (#45223555)

I wonder if I would get a simple fine if I systematically hacked into thousands of people's computers to watch "intimate moments."

Go for it, and cite this settlement as precedent.

Equal protection under the law, right?

Re:Let me guess, no jail time (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 9 months ago | (#45223687)

Equal protection under equal money.

Our legal system is a fucking scam.

FREEZE! F.B.I.! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 9 months ago | (#45223861)

RIPPED from TODAY'S HEADLINES [google.com]

Some animals are more equal than others. This is my surprised face.

If corporations were really people, I would be able to end one by squeezing my fingers around it's throat.

Re:Let me guess, no jail time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45224665)

Settlements do not create precedent.

Go for broke (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 9 months ago | (#45223479)

Finance-charge heavy rent-to-own place that used spy techniques to get "images of private intimate moments"?

Looks like they figuratively have your balls in their hand two ways.

Re:Go for broke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45227503)

Finance-charge heavy rent-to-own place that used spy techniques to get "images of private intimate moments"?

Looks like they figuratively have your balls in their hand two ways.

What if there were underage balls. Does it counts as child-porn? Is the minor also guilty of distributing child-porn?

Incorporate (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45223703)

“It’s a huge issue, and there hasn’t been enough case law to sort this out,” he said. “There is a lot of gray area about what should be done and what shouldn’t be done.”

So if an indivdual does the same activity, it's Computer Fraud and Abuse... Jail Time, banned from electronic devices, whole world turned up-side-down.

BUT, if your a corporation. nada. "Don't do it again" penality.

Only in America.

That's what they do (5, Informative)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 9 months ago | (#45223727)

Aaron's and similar rental companies are built on taking advantage of lower income folks who are not good financial decision makers. While there is an element of that with many businesses, these rental companies take it to the extreme.

and higher income idiots. rental place screws peop (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 9 months ago | (#45224103)

I've seen some higher income people do this same idiocy, renting furniture and electronics
I have to laugh at this story. "Furniture rental store screws customers" - no shit.

Re:That's what they do (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 9 months ago | (#45224951)

I don't understand the business case for this particular brand of spying. I don't see how things like passwords and financial data are going to help them recover a computer that wasn't returned. I can understand the webcam used for taking pictures of who is using the computer, or screenshots for looking at things like their Facebook account to identify the person by name, but other than that it seems like a huge overreach with no legitimate business purpose.

Re:That's what they do (2)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 9 months ago | (#45225313)

My guess is they purchased some software that had the ability to track the computers location so they could get them back, and they didn't really understand what else it did. While I hate these rental companies, I also sometimes hate the way these invasions of privacy are reported. The software may have had access to this information, but it might not have actually transmitted it anywhere. Its hard to tell from these reports what really happened. Whoever is selling this software maybe should have some accountability as well as Aaron's.

Re:That's what they do (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 9 months ago | (#45226341)

As I understand the companies position on this... You are about correct. They had specific software that they would install so that they could track, find and recover laptops from folks who where not paying for them or had stolen them. This is unlikely a problem if it is spelled out in the contract and ONLY used when the contract says it would be used. However, some of the company's franchisees, and/or their employees apparently found out that the software could do other things at other times and started to do use the software to collect information and photos for their personal enjoyment.

So, they installed the software, but I figure that it was used for unintended purposes. They intended good, but they needed to control access to the tracking software a bit better.. Or perhaps they should have used different software that was a bit less capable...

Can a rented PC install Linux? (1)

Skapare (16644) | about 9 months ago | (#45223731)

Can a rented PC install Linux? Or have they modified it to keep its insecure spyware?

Re:Can a rented PC install Linux? (1)

Aryden (1872756) | about 9 months ago | (#45223877)

Yes, you can install linux. On desktops, they usually just put a lock on the case so that you can't modify the hardware but software wise, you can do pretty much anything you want.

Re:Can a rented PC install Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45225797)

Yes, you can install linux. On desktops, they usually just put a lock on the case so that you can't modify the hardware but software wise, you can do pretty much anything you want.

Isn't being smart enuf to know to install Linux being too smart to be screwed by Aaron's?

Re:Can a rented PC install Linux? (1)

Skapare (16644) | about 9 months ago | (#45226921)

Or being smart enough to install Linux is being smart enough to exploit Aaron's.

Restitution? (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | about 9 months ago | (#45223745)

Are the FTC planning on compensating the victims with the acquired settlement? How do the victims get restitution?

Re:Restitution? (1)

Aryden (1872756) | about 9 months ago | (#45223889)

No, there was no financial settlement here. The FTC is leaving that up to the class action suits

nice (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45223849)

this is very nice blog
http://www.bestofhealthfitness.com/2013/10/c_24.html

manufacture and dissemination of child pornography (1)

tannhaus (152710) | about 9 months ago | (#45224163)

So, they took photos with the webcam and even admit those photos include children. If even one of those children is in a state of undress, they took that picture and shared it with their franchisees, they should be busted for manufacture and dissemination of child pornography, because you know if that child did the same thing, those are the charges they would face.

Can I form a LLC and commit crimes? (1)

EMG at MU (1194965) | about 9 months ago | (#45224271)

If I form a LLC and then commit crimes through that LLC, can I avoid any real punishment like corporations do? Like if I buy a car through my LLC, then I am "on the clock" when I'm driving home from the bar and get a DWI, can I just reach a "settlement" and walk away. I live in wisconsin so probably, DWIs are traffic tickets on your first offence.

When will people (as in the majority of people) start caring that there is a 2 class system of law in America, the haves and the have nots. Corporations and rich people dont go to jail.

Re:Can I form a LLC and commit crimes? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45224389)

It's not that simple. Here you have a scenario where a group of people made the decision to put this softawre on their rentals for legitimate reasons - to cut down on theft by being able to remotely disable or track these PC's.

Then you have a second group of people figure out that they can use this software for nefarious purposes. It seems to me that if anyone should go to jail, it should be any individual who they can prove actually used this software in an illegal manner. The software itself isn't illegal, Aaron's put it on their property. I'm pretty certain that the agreement that the customers signed probably even mentioned the fact that the software exists.

Do you really think that jailing the people at the top who decided to put the software on the systems is a fair outcome, or a reasonable way to handle these types of things? Should Aaron's be held financially liable? Absolutely. SHould they be fined? Absolutely.Throw an exec in jail because of this? Absolutely not

Re:Can I form a LLC and commit crimes? (2)

EMG at MU (1194965) | about 9 months ago | (#45224755)

Throw an exec in jail because of this? Absolutely not

I guess I disagree. As a CEO you are responsible for the actions of your company. You sanctioned a plan to use software to recover your property and did not put adequate safeguards or training in place to prevent abuse of that software. As CEO you are responsible.

Re:Can I form a LLC and commit crimes? (1)

BurfCurse (937117) | about 9 months ago | (#45225557)

I hear people say the exact same thing all the time and it scares me that people believe this. Do you really want to live in a society where you can be thrown in jail because someone, that you have limited control over, does something illegal without your knowledge? Yes, as a CEO you have a responsibility to know what your company is doing, but anyone who has ever worked for a large company knows the CEO has very little visibility into what most of a company's individual parts are doing, other than what his/her direct reports tell them.

Re:Can I form a LLC and commit crimes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45226997)

Umm...but isnt that what they get paid the big bucks for? To be accountable and responsible? Does a CEO ever say -- "my company made this huge profit because this one guy did something no one had thought of...so I am giving all my stock options this year to him?". Nope...they take all the money and credit for a company's growth. Ergo, they take on the liability too. It cant be heads I win, tails you lose.

Re:Can I form a LLC and commit crimes? (1)

BurfCurse (937117) | about 9 months ago | (#45227903)

Ok, so extend it to small business. Small landscaping company owner. One of his employees starts stealing from the property owners. Should the owner be liable for the loss? Absolutely. Should he be sent to jail? Absolutely not. What would be the point? He's not a criminal. This is a slippery slope, one that leads society into constant fear, with everyone assuming unavoidable liability.

Re:Can I form a LLC and commit crimes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45226983)

A lot of people who haven ever been involved in making strategic decisions for a business think the CEO (or any executive for that matter) is an oracle that knows every minute detail of the operations of the business. That's simply not the case. In fact, it is not possible. I bet that the exec who made this decision had it pitched to him as "Hey, we have this software that costs $X per computer and will reduce write-offs by Y%". I bet that Aaron's legal department reviewed the possible legal issues and made recommendations. I'd bet that some department came up with rules for how to use it and so forth. How good these were, we don't know. I'm sure that many different areas of the organization collaborated to make this happen. Ultimately, the lack of controls in place are not to be blamed on any one individual person, but the organization as a whole.

This is actually very similar to how engineering disasters occur. Generally, no particular persons failure leads to the disaster, but rather - it is caused by many small failures by a larger number of people. People die in these accidents, but you rarely see criminal prosecution. To do that you have to prove gross negligence, and that has a high burden of proof - and rightfully so. As the poster below noted, "Do you really want to live in a society where you can be thrown in jail because someone, that you have limited control over, does something illegal without your knowledge?" and I think that sums it up rather nicely.

Re:Can I form a LLC and commit crimes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45226211)

Yes, they should go to jail because they did not think it through and take appropriate measures that any college freshman could see were needed.

Re:Can I form a LLC and commit crimes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45226631)

So by that logic, would you throw car rental business CEO's in jail because someone got drunk in one of their cars and killed someone? That's not even speculation over what might happen, it has happened and will absolutely happen again.

Is the settlement a tax (1)

niftymitch (1625721) | about 9 months ago | (#45226193)

Is the settlement a tax or do the individuals
and organizations wronged get compensated.

In the end some legal firm will make a killing.... Hmmm killing is illegal.

And now - the rest of the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45226201)

A quick googling for Designware turned up their website (with an object error of some sort, only making me more suspicious of their role as coders) http://designerware.com/eSiteWay/Home.aspx. Their side of the story, which should be viewed as just that, painted an interesting saga of governments and lawyers in a money grab and full of fear mongering.

I went into this thinking that the software company was the bad guy. After reading their side, I wonder if it is a bit more, in Fletch's words, "Charcoal".

Re:And now - the rest of the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45227295)

An excellent read. If the claims made here are generally accurate, this sounds like a government and private attorney shakedown that killed a company (and, presumably, jobs - albeit, it probably created some low skill jobs in the legal profession keeping some incompetent lawyers and paralegals off of welfare).

A clear story in government overreach as well as the need for tort reform.

Misquoted (1)

n7ytd (230708) | about 9 months ago | (#45228239)

From TFA:

In the settlement agreement, Aaron’s did not admit or deny the allegations.

That's a LONG way from "Aaron's has owned up to the practice" which the summary claims or the "Aaron's admits role in spying on customers" of the headline.

This was a settlement, which meant they chose to pay $X rather than risk $(X+Y) at a trial.

Everyone's a Lucky Dog at Aaron's! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45228489)

And you'll be treated no better.

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