I hope you don’t mind if I step away from the typical thieves we feature here on Photo Stealers and bring your attention to a new company that I feel may be taking advantage of photographers, especially ones that are new to the industry as well as those that suffer from gear envy (which is a disease many photographers have, including myself).
Today a gentleman popped into one of the Facebook Photography groups I am apart of and posted about a new company he wanted to promote called RTO Camera. Here’s what he had to say (note he is the owner of the company but presents this like it’s a service he just wanted others to know about):
“Hey all. I wanted to let you know about a new financing service, specifically aimed at pro photographers. RTO Camera offers lease to own programs, and they are specifically geared to evaluate a photographers business and they understand the business. They can approve most any photographer in business for at least one year and that is getting paid for shooting.
RTO Camera is partnered with and/or ships through all of the major retailers such as B&H, Adorama, ProCam, Mikes Camera, Sammy’s and others, and packages any range of equipment from any combination of brands.
It is presented as an alternative to renting equipment and allowing you to leave credit card balances free for those emergencies they are intended for.
The application is pretty detailed, but the website states that minimizes risk, which makes sense.”
At the beginning, this sounded interesting. However the more I, and others, read into it, the more things just didn’t add up. Like the terms of the “loan.” Let’s say that you really want a lens and some filters to protect it and the grand total is $1,000. Per their lease terms at the end of the 24 months, you would have paid $2080.80 which makes the APR 83%. The owner claims that you can always buy out early but the kind of customer that is going to need a loan at this kind of rate for a lens isn’t generally going to be the person to suddenly have the money to buy out the lease within a couple months.
Look, I understand that times can get tough. Things break. Gear gets stolen. Working as a professional photographer is anything BUT easy street. However, I promise you that with a “deal” like this you are NEVER going to come out on top, no matter what the interim issues are. If you can’t get a loan in the traditional ways, rent what you need to get buy and sock away your pennies until you can make it work. I promise you, you will be better off in the long run AND have more money in your pocket instead of theirs.
If the idea still, for whatever reason, tempts you make sure to stop by their application page. I’ve personally never had a business loan nor done a “Rent-a-Center” kind of deal but I’m not sure if even the “Payday Loan” type places require your Facebook profile information as a requirement for a loan. Furthermore, the detailed information (drivers license number, social security number, bank information including routing and account numbers etc.) they are requiring makes identity theft a genuine concern.
I apologize for deviating from my typical posts about thieves and copyright infringements. As a person with former bad credit (thanks to my darling ex-spouse) it really chaps my ass when I see companies praying on those that are down on their luck and may not see another way out. If you are STILL tempted, email me. Talk to me. Tell me what is going on in your head to make you think this is the only option. Let’s see what we can figure out that doesn’t involve leasing camera equipment from RTO Camera.