The pounding started at 8 a.m. on a Saturday last year, loud raps Jessica Gonzalez says woke her up.
“Rent-A-Center!” yelled a voice at the front door of her Miami home.
Oh, God, not this again, Gonzalez remembers thinking.
Fearing the company’s workers would harass her as they had on previous visits — banging on doors and peering in windows — Gonzalez rushed from bed to grab her two boys.
“Wake up! Wake up!” she said, coaxing her boys, ages 7 and 9, into a closet.
For the next hour, as the banging continued, she says they huddled inside, coming out only after the man gave up and left.
Gonzalez, a 30-year-old law firm secretary, says she felt helpless as the Rent-A-Center employee pounded on her house.
“I felt trapped,” she says. “I saw the extent these people were going to, and they weren’t stopping.”
“Scheme Of Abuse And Harassment’
Gonzalez had rented a washing machine and used bedroom set from Rent-A-Center in April 2015, according to a lawsuit she filed against the company in federal court last November.
Buying the items from Rent-A-Center would have cost about $1,750, she says. She didn’t have the money, so she says she signed leases with the company that obligated her to pay about $70 a week for 76 weeks, which comes to three times the original price.
She made payments until April 2016, her complaint said, until she was forced to reduce her hours at work after being diagnosed with a thyroid condition.
She had paid nearly $3,500, twice the original price. But she fell behind on payments.
Rent-A-Center responded with a “scheme of abuse and harassment,” her lawsuit said.
Anytime she missed a payment, even by a single day, Rent-A-Center workers would “blow up my phone,” calling at all hours, she tells NerdWallet.
Company workers sent text messages to her family and friends, telling them that she was behind on payments and would be arrested, her lawsuit said.
“At one point they even showed up at my house with a police officer,” she says. “It was very scary.”
One night last year when she and her boys were returning home, a Rent-A-Center worker was waiting on her front porch.
“I got these chills all over my body,” Gonzalez says. She and the boys drove away for several hours.