NEW CASTLE — Dear Dave: My wife and I bought some furniture a while back on what we thought was a 24-months-same-as-cash plan. The original purchase price was $1,600. The other day, I got a call from a collector saying that it was actually a 12-month plan, and the balance is now $2,800. We looked at the contract, and it was our mistake on the length of the plan. Still, that makes the interest rate about 30 percent. Is there anything we can do about this? — Robert
Dear Robert: This is one of the reasons I tell people to stay away from “same as cash” agreements. You may not have agreed to a specific percentage rate, and I’ll bet it’s something less when you factor in the time before and after the 12-month period ended. Still, I’m pretty sure that when you signed the contract you did agree to have this thing convert to a financed contract if you didn’t pay it off in 12 months. These kinds of deals are really scummy. Not only have they charged you interest since the 12-month period ended, they’ve also back-charged you interest for the entire length of the contract!
These same-as-cash contracts are a bear trap. They’re designed to mess you over big time. You can try to dispute it, but I’ve got a feeling you’ll lose and have to pay about $1,200 in stupid tax on this one.
Lots of people think they can pull one over on a company with the “same as cash” deal, but stuff almost always comes up — even if you don’t misread the contract. I’ve said it a million times, Robert. If you play with snakes, you will be bitten! — Dave
Dear Dave: I’ve heard you talk about something you call the legacy drawer. What exactly is this, and what goes into it? — Lisa