Don’t Lease A Dog

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Photo: smerikal/Flickr

You can lease everything these days, from a TV to a sofa to the computer you are possibly reading this from, but you know what else you can lease (but definitely shouldn’t)? A dog.

I’m Renting a Dog?

Bloomberg brings us the story of Wags Lending, a financing company run by the improbably-named Dusty Wunderlich who is the CEO of Bristlecone Holdings, LL, which owns Wags Lending — a company that leases dogs purchased at pet stores. Consider the story of the Sabins, who bought a dog at a pet store and discovered shortly thereafter that they didn’t actually own the dog, but were leasing it instead. After discovering a charge for $5,800 on their credit report, the Sabins followed up and found out that the $2,400 they initially paid for the dog wasn’t all they had agreed to.

Without quite realizing it, the Sabins had agreed to make 34 monthly lease payments of $165.06, after which they had the right to buy the dog for about two months’ rent.

Miss a payment, and the lender could take back the dog. If Tucker ran away or chased the proverbial fire truck all the way to doggy heaven, the Sabins would be on the hook for an early repayment charge. If they saw the lease through to the end, they would have paid the equivalent of more than 70 percent in annualized interest — nearly twice what most credit card lenders charge.

“We like niches where we’re dealing with emotional borrowers,” Wunderlich told Bloomberg. Other financing ventures for this jerk include furniture, hearing aids, wedding dresses and custom rims for car tires — things that some people want or need but can’t necessarily afford. They also explored financing for funeral costs, but thankfully, that never panned out.

Wunderlich casts himself as some sort of cowboy vigilante, “drawn to the rugged individualism expressed in the novels of Ayn Rand and the blog Cowboy Ethics, but he hastens to argue that while he profits off high-cost lending, he’s also improving the lives of subprime borrowers.” Offering people things that they want but can’t precisely afford isn’t improving anyone’s life — it’s making it way, way worse.

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