It Gets Easier

In years past, I always experienced surprise when coming out of a holiday season sans holiday loot. Maybe it is because I’m older, maybe it’s because I have exactly two hours of “free” time each day now (in which I also have to fit chores), or maybe things like Humble Bundle and sales in general have spoiled me, but… it’s easier than ever to let things slide right on by.

My decision point this past Black Cyber Fronday was two-fold: PS4 or Switch. The PS4 had a lot going for it… sorta. There are basically five games I want to play that are PS4 exclusive, and two of them haven’t released yet. Given how the console deals have actually gotten worse over the years, it stood to reason that I could just continue to wait. All the way into March, if necessary.

The Switch is not something I talk much about here, which makes some kind of sense considering I do not own the machine. Nor any Nintendo console since the GameCube and the DS, really. I don’t have anything in particular against Nintendo, I just don’t have friends coming over to play games anymore. I guess Mario Kart and Smash Brothers can still be fun solo, but having the possibility of 2P, 3P, and 4P joining the field is what sets the value over the top. Without that bonus, you have a console that costs the same as it did three years ago and ports of Wii U games that grab headlines when they hit 50% off.

Despite all that, I was very sorely tempted by the Switch Lite when it was going for $163. I don’t have commutes in which I could reliably play it, or really even any opportunity to play at all that would not also allow me to play PC games instead. Still… how else will I ever experience Zelda: Breath of the Wild?

Then a thought occurred to me. “I know some Rent-A-Centers nearby. I wonder what they charge?”


Holy shit

Technically there is a non-bundle version with just the console for the low, low price of $19.99/week. Which might even be a “deal” compared with old-school Blockbuster prices back in the day. But holy shit, you guys, the fine print says that actually renting to own this bundle is $1,949.35 (65 total payments of $29.99). Meanwhile at GameStop, that bastion of charity, you can resell a PS4 1TB console for $150 store credit as of today. So, conceivably, buy a used one for $190 and even if you turn around and trade it in two weeks later, you’re getting at least as good of a deal.

Or, you know, continue doing nothing but playing the same games you were already playing for $0-$15/month. Sometimes analysis paralysis pays off.

Posted on December 4, 2019, in Commentary and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Saw that Rent-a-Center add and assumed it was $30 a month, which I guess wouldn’t be a TERRIBLE deal. Then realized it was a weekly cost. Who the F rents it at that price? Never been inside one of those stores, but are all their prices for everything in that absurd a range?


    • Out of curiosity, I poke around the website a bit more and larger items/sets are typically still in that $30ish range per week. That said, the only practical application I can think of for these places to exist would be “I’m hosting a Superbowl party and want a 75″ 4K TV for the event, and I’m willing to pay $31.99/week for just that one week.” That… doesn’t seem that bad. But the exact same model TV can be bought at Best Buy for $899 (or $37.50/month financed) whereas “renting to own” it costs $3326 over two years.

      I dunno. I have heard arguments that Payday Loan places aren’t as bad in practice as their 600% interest appears, since they “serve” poor communities that would not otherwise receive credit. Maybe an argument exists likewise for Rent-A-Center, e.g. if you don’t qualify for Best Buy’s $37.50/month financing, $127.96/month (with zero collateral) is “better” than being shut out of the market entirely. And hey, Rent-A-Center offers same-day delivery and setup, which ain’t nothing.

      But still… goddamn. Obviously no one needs a 75″ TV, but there are things on that site like refrigerators that you DO need, and will end up being held hostage by if you ever get to a situation in which you use these places. You better keep paying $25/week for that fridge or it’ll get repo’d and all your food will be dumped out.


      • There are other uses for renting appliances. For example, my friends and I used to rent a television when we were in university. We had to move every four months, and no single person wanted to buy (and transport) the television. So we rented and split the bill four ways. Sure, overall it would have been cheaper to buy, but it was cheaper for each person to rent. And much less hassle.

        A lot of rental economics make more sense in the context of roommates who may come and go, and be replaced by other people every so often.

        As for refrigerators, it’s usually the landlord’s responsibility. So if a fridge breaks down, and it will take a few days to buy and deliver a new one, the landlord rents a fridge to cover that period.

        For the Playstation, though, I imagine it’s usually rented for parties. $30 for a second console for a large party is a pretty good deal.


      • Those are fair points.

        Amusingly, I did a Google search for Blockbuster console rentals, and I found a forum post from 2002 saying that Blockbuster charged $15.99 to rent an Xbox for the week. Given that you can rent a PS4 for $19.99/week nearly 18 years later – and presumably have people deliver it to your door – I guess we’re better off?

        Still, the “rent to own” portion is still 2-3 times the retail price and we all know that these companies are not staying afloat on the backs of college students alone.


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