BBB Tips: Shopping for a New Pet? What to Know About Pet Leasing

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If you can’t afford the purebred cat or dog of your dreams, leasing or financing the purchase is becoming an increasingly popular option. But before you sign on the dotted line and take your new furry friend home, be sure you understand the contract. When it comes to buying a pet, misunderstandings and misleading terms are unfortunately common.

If you can’t afford the purebred cat or dog of your dreams, leasing or financing the purchase is becoming an increasingly popular option. But some people end up paying thousands of dollars more – and may not even own the pet after the contract ends.

Some less-than-scrupulous companies are persuading excited new pet owners into agreeing to predatory terms. In some cases, people who sign what they think is financing are actually committing to “pet leases” and end up paying thousands of dollars more – and may not even own the pet after the contract ends. Also, if owners stop making the payments, the leasing company has the right to take the animal back.

Problems with pet leasing have become so widespread that states are starting to ban it. Nevada and California have both passed laws to stop the practice.

If you do want to finance the purchase of a pet, be sure to follow these tips.

  • Make sure you understand what you are signing: Many people are so eager to take home a new pet that they don’t thoroughly read the contract.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask questions. You can insist the company show you where something is listed in the contract. If a seller misrepresents the terms of an agreement, they could be breaking the law.
  • Understand the difference between leasing and financing: In one common scenario, pet owners pay for the duration of the lease, only to find that they still do not own their cat or dog after the contract is up. This practice is common when it comes to leasing a car. You pay for the right to use the vehicle for a period of time but don’t actually own it. That differs from financing, where you own the purchase after completing payments.
  • Do the math: Even if you want to finance the purchase of a new cat or dog, be aware that this can cost considerably more than purchasing one outright. According to one company’s website, if you finance the purchase of a $2,000 dog, you can pay up to $293 a month for 24 months. This means, you may pay more than $7,000. That’s an extra $5,000!
  • Get verbal agreements in writing: If the salesperson makes a promise, be sure it is written in the contract.
  • Research your options: If you do want to lease or finance a pet, research different companies beforehand and BBB.org for business reviews. Contract terms and payments can differ widely.
  • Report violations. If you’ve fallen victim to misleading purchase agreement terms, report it to the FTC.

Media Contacts: For more information, journalists should contact Katherine Hutt at 212-705-0131 or khutt(at)council.bbb.org.

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