21 March 2017

BUSINESS - Consumers Barking Mad About Pet Leasing

81 out of 84 reviews for Monterey Financial Services give the company a single star, and the reviews are full of comments such as, “I was tricked into signing a contract that turned my 1300 dollar dog… into a 4000 dollar lease agreement in which I could either pay more money at the end or return him for a fee.”

Tricked into leasing a pet?

Monterey Financial Services is one of the intermediary companies that Wags Lending assigns contracts to, and they facilitate the lease of high end pets, such as designer dog breeds and other highly valued animals.

Pet leasing and pet rental are not entirely new endeavors.

Walkzee was an app that connected dog lovers with shelter pets who needed an hour or two of love (the company is no longer active), and pet rental is a thriving business in Japan.

However, unlike a dog lover making a choice to rent a pet for an hour, many of the people who have leased dogs through Wags Lending were not aware that’s what they were doing.

They found a pet in a pet store, paid the price and signed the contract, and got home to find additional charges on their credit cards and fine print that they hadn’t read in the contract.

Additionally, these kinds of leases are not subject to the same regulations as standard loans, and so they can charge interest rates ranging from 36 to 170 percent.

Bloomberg recently ran an in-depth piece on Wags Lending and some of the people who have unknowingly leased a pet.

Although Dusty Wunderlick, the CEO of the company that operates Wags Lending, says that he is committed to transparency and sees these types of leases as one way to “democratize access to credit,” the pet stores and finance companies that act as intermediaries may not be as scrupulous in making sure that consumers know what they’re getting into.

The lack of transparency in many of these transactions has resulted in customers signing lease agreements that cost them thousands of dollars more than what they agreed to pay for the pet, damaging their credit ratings and leaving them without even a pet of their own.

Making the choice to rent a dog is a valid solution to the very human desire to have animal companionship, even when you can’t own a pet.

Providing companionship through leasing or renting is a creative way to meet a market need.

But while sneaking exorbitant interest rates into leases that people don’t even realize they’re signing is perhaps creative, it is not meeting a market need so much as exploiting a trusting consumer base.

And that is unlikely to be an effective long-term business strategy.

If Wunderlich is sincere in his desire to provide a valuable service, he will need to take these concerns seriously and ensure that the businesses Wags Lending partners with stay committed to transparency, or risk their credibility in a market that is increasingly reliant on consumer trust.

About Tiffany Sostar
Tiffany is a published academic, an editor with the Editors Association of Canada, an independent scholar and researcher, and a self-care and narrative coach. She is particularly interested in the intersection of technology and identity - how our tools shape our selves and change our stories, and in how the nature of work is changing as we incorporate more technology into our daily lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment