Radio Rentals’ Rent, Try, $1 Buy; a thorn in side of clients

29 March 2017
A nation-wide class action for consumers stung by the unfair and unconscionable practices of Radio Rentals has been launched in the Federal Court in Sydney today, with up to 200,000 consumers potentially affected across the country.

Filed as an open class action on behalf of all who have been subjected to unfair terms by the rental giant, the claim could be worth up to $50 million.

Ben Slade, Principal at Australia’s leading class actions law firm Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, says Thorn Australia Pty Ltd (trading as Radio Rentals) imposes on its disadvantaged customers onerous and unfair terms that avoid credit laws that prohibit overcharging.

“The class action alleges that one of the more insidious aspects of the business is that Radio Rentals continued to draw money on an ongoing basis from its clients’ Centrepay (Centrelink payment) accounts, well beyond the retail value of the goods,” Mr Slade said.

“Here we have a national company that deals with vulnerable people promising them one thing but signing them up to another, at a much higher price than is reasonable.

“Rent, Try, $1 Buy is misleading when you delve into what’s involved. What we have found is that people are paying up to seven times the true retail costs for goods in the belief that the goods will always be theirs, yet the contracts do not give them that right.”

Ms Casey Simpson, Wagga Wagga mother of five, is the lead plaintiff representing the thousands of people caught up in the Radio Rentals deal. She claims the company deducted more than $3300 from her Centrelink account for a used mattress and bed – valued at around $430.

“I have four kids and am on a low income – I thought Rent, Try, $1 Buy would be a sensible alternative to get some basic goods in a way we could afford. I never knew I’d have to pay as much as they kept charging me, or that I wouldn’t have a right to buy the goods for $1,” Ms Simpson said.

“I feel unfairly treated and taken advantage of. If it’s happened to me it’s likely to have happened to many others. That is why I have decided to stand up and take this action to hold Radio Rentals to account.”

Karen Cox from the Financial Rights Legal Centre said the practice needed to be called out and stopped.

“A healthy business model is one that delivers real benefits to people needing a service – not one that uses misleading means to get people into situations that only make their personal plights more dire,” Ms Cox said.