PSA: RTO Camera

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.

  • captain-confuzzled

    the owner of this company is a busy guy – PS your antennae sure know when to buzz!

    • Me, Myself and I

      One backer in almost a year? That’s quite telling.

      • RTO Camera

        Yes, the business plan and my intellectual property rights were bought out by Gas Techno before we even completed the crowd-funding campaign. We had multiple offers across the methanol and oil and gas industry. I still maintain my interest in GasTechno as well, and am listed in their SEC stock offering filings as the Chief Development Officer. We received positive endorsements from our state senator who chairs the state energy committee as well. Crimson Fuel aims to replace gasoline with methanol, and we have a very viable plan to do so. We are navigating a number of market factors in the oil and gas industry, as I am sure one can imagine. Oil companies don’t like something that can take the place of gasoline so easily. In fact, various capital investors that I met in the Crimson Fuel venture, are now equity shareholders in the RTO Camera business as well.

  • captain-confuzzled
    • Photo Stealers


    • Me, Myself and I

      Yeah but I take anything on “the-site-that-shall-not-be-named” with a grain of salt.

      • RTO Camera

        Thank you. I provided our explanation above. You can choose to take that with however many grains of salt you like. I am making a sincere effort here to answer questions and address points that have been mentioned. Two of which helped us notice things we needed to correct. So thank you.

  • Wow, this must be illegal. There is a maximum rate for loans allowed, and this exceeds that by a long shot. I don’t think you can work around it by structuring things differently, it’s based on the calculated total paid versus borrowed.

    • Photo Stealers

      From the comments on the thread it seems like he believes since this is a ‘lease’ he’s not held to the same laws regarding loan rates.

      • Ha, funny. Ignorance of the law is not a valid defense 🙂

        • RTO Camera

          Please state the law you are referring to. One of our partners is a respected attorney. Our funding partner does leasing for municipalities (Fire engine fleets, police cars…etc) and is very reputable. I assure you, we in full compliance, and nowhere near the rates of the other services out there, or Aarons Furniture, Rent-A-Center, FlexShopper (used by Adorama) or any of the others.

          • Nate

            For information: All I can find is an 8% cap on written contracts for loans in Alabama’s Interest and Usury Code. I’d be interested in seeing documentation that supports higher leasing rates.

          • RTO Camera

            Suffice to say that if an 8% cap was all that was allowed, there wouldn’t be a single car dealer in business in Alabama. You must be mistaken on some level. Both Aarons and Rent-A-Center have numerous stores here. Even the banks have higher rates than that.

          • Nate

            It appears Rent-A-Center has been sued in multiple states for violating usury laws. Rent-A-Center, and others, get around it by calling the agreements “Rental Contracts” and not Loans.

            A quick search on Zillow shows Mortgage rates in Alabama at 3-4%. A 24-month Auto Loan tops out at 7.33%.

          • RTO Camera

            The auto loan number is not accurate at all. I know this absolutely. Yes, Rent-A-Center has been sued. So has just about every major business in the USA. As to what they were sued for, I have no information. However, Rent-A-Center being sued has nothing to do with our business. We have been advised that we are entirely within the law, and we have scaled our rates to offer the best possible rate in this high-risk sector that we can possibly offer and operate a sustainable business. Photography businesses are among the highest failure rate in the nation. We evaluate them differently than other finance and leasing services, and hope to pick the diamonds in the rough and help them sparkle and shine.

          • ALP

            Being entirely within the law doesn’t mean the people running them aren’t morally bankrupt animals taking advantage of the desperate and disenfranchised.

          • Me, Myself and I

            Are you telling me that Aaron’s charges MORE than 108% in fees and interest over 24 months?

          • RTO Camera

            Can you finance your camera gear through Aarons? Can you buy a backdrop, lighting and props through Rent-A-Center? I think not. But to answer your question, yes, their rate is higher than ours. It varies from state to state, but generally speaking, yes. Secondly, your calculation of a rate is not mathematically correct. You are stating total cost differential.

            What do you charge for an 8×10 print? It only costs less than 10 bucks at most labs, but I see many photographers charging $20,$30 even $50 for an 8×10. How is that not a ripoff? That is a 500% markup. What a bunch of crooks. After all, you are holding their beautiful wedding pictures hostage…right?

            No, I do not see it that way of course. But am merely applying your argument. There are costs and value associated with your pricing, as well as demand for your artistry. The customer can decide if you are worth it.

            We have high costs and risk in our business, taking on young startup photography businesses that have the highest failure rate of any business in the nation. Loss rates for our business are estimated to be around 20%. Additionally, there is a cost of capital and many other factors that come into play, just as there are in your business. In the end, we are projecting a year end net profit of about 22% on the dollar. That is certainly not highway robbery.

      • barque

        Sorry to be a contrarian on this one, but…

        It actually is a lease. And as he states above, the monthly lease rate (where I have full time possession of the lens forever) is less than 4 days of renting the same lens from a local shop each month. The big difference being that at the end of the lease term you can own the lens for $1, whereas the shop I’m renting from still owns that lens forever.

    • RTO Camera

      You should give your legal basis for that statement before making it. There is no denial that our rate is higher than conventional finance options. After all, it is right on our front page…the first thing you see. Anyone with even a grade school math education can add up the cost. We want them to. We invite them to. We want them to compare to what their other options are and decide what it best for them. We aim to present the best option under their set of circumstances and choices available.

      But this is not a conventional finance product nor presented as such. We named the company RTO Camera and our rates are less than a one week rental of the same equipment, and a far better value. When you rent something, you have nothing to show for it afterwards.

  • captain-confuzzled

    finding what looks like the tip of an iceberg as I search –

    • Me, Myself and I

      Humm … the domain is registered as:
      Registrant Organization: RTO Camera / HotShoe Marketing

      HotShoe Marketing?

      • Me, Myself and I

        HotShoe Marketing isn’t a registered business with Alabama.

        • RTO Camera

          It doesn’t need to be. The domain registrant is not relevant, and could be anyone. The legal issue of the domain stands between the rights holder and the user of the domain. The domain registrant could be Mickey Mouse and it would not make any difference, so long as Mickey Mouse agreed to let RTO Camera use the domain. So long as RTO Camera is the registered company name that is in your agreements and documents, that is the legally liable entity. Naming both is simply being thorough.

          I assume you are not a lawyer…but our lawyer, is a lawyer and thus far, has advised us accurately. He is also a part owner of the company.

          • Me, Myself and I

            OH! Look at that!

            You are correct.

            Alabama is one of those crazy states where you don’t have to register an assumed name business.

            I apologize. 🙂

            And also you are correct … I am not a lawyer … heck, I’m not even from the US.

      • RTO Camera

        Hotshoe Marketing. As a photographer, you certainly know what a hot shoe is…right? Yes, we structure this for offering other products and services that we feel there might be a market for. HotShoe Marketing is the primary name on our GoDaddy account, so that shows up in the registry. Again, detective work is good, but the assumptions are not accurate.

  • Wes Jones

    Oh yes, I am going to hand over all my financial information to some yahoo with a PO Box of XXXX

    • Me, Myself and I

      If you do, could you send me a check for 100000$ I have a bridge I could sell you. Just think about all the tolls you could collect!!!

    • Me, Myself and I

      Here is a better address:
      6002 Tree Crossings Pkwy
      Hoover, Alabama

      • RTO Camera

        Thanks. I posted that too. We also updated the PO box on the website. It was an update error by our developer. Glad it was brought to my attention. The previous build had it in there. The XXXX was there as placeholder during the build.

  • RTO Camera

    Crimson fuel was absorbed by GasTechno Energy and Fuels. I am still with that company. It is another investment. RTO Camera is a new venture with some new partners. There are many other services out there like this. All cost more money. We are aiming to offer a better alternative. Of course, it is higher cost. It is high risk.

    We ask for detailed business information so that we can look at more than just your credit score. We want to look at the potential of your business. We want to see your work and know what you are doing. We want to get to know you. That allows us to trust you. After all, we are putting out the money. We have a sizeable capital firm as a partner and other business partners involved. If you finance from us and we go under, well…you get free camera equipment don’t you?

    Our application is a secured connection and we use DocuSign for signature verification.

    Again, it is anyone’s choice to use alternative financing. There are a lot of them out there. We offer the best rate possible in this sector, and still have a sustainable business. We are taking a risk on your business. More information allows us to lower that risk, as we are able to accurately assess your business.

    This is a business lease, and is structured differently from conventional financing.

    We want to enable people who may not have other means, to grow their business. This is why we are focusing on businesses, and not individuals. This is something that is a tool that generates income. We advise you to of course weight the costs versus the benefit. We do that as well in evaluating your application. If we don’t believe it will be a net positive result for you, it doesn’t make sense for us to approve you…we would be out of business in a week.

    Aarons Furniture, Rent-A-Center and many others offer this same service. Also, one of our shareholders is an attorney, so I can assure you we are legal in every respect.

    • Celine (peaceetc)

      Respectfully, simply having a lawyer as a shareholder doesn’t mean everything is on the level. Even if it is all legal, I have a hard time calling it moral. Charging someone what is effectively twice as much as something is worth is no better than those payday loans or even the rent-a-centers you mention.

      In other words, just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.

      • Me, Myself and I

        My day job is for a federal department dealing with a massive out of court settlement .. we manage the settlement … we’ve had 4 lawyers DISBARRED for EXPLOITING THEIR CLIENTS …

        Lawyers aren’t any more ethical than the rest of us, they just know the rules a bit better and even then, not always.

        Like the lawyer for this university telling them they didn;t infringe on the photographers rights when they lifted the image off his website to use for their own site and publicity because he hadn;t added a watermark … uhm … that changed like 30 years ago …

      • RTO Camera

        I didn’t say that. I stated that our attorney is aware of the laws that govern our industry. Moral is a matter of opinion. There is no deception here. There is no compulsion. We encourage people to evaluate the cost benefit and only finance if it is likely to yield a net positive result for them. In fact, our approval uses that as a consideration as well. If someone’s revenue does not quite match up to what we want to see, we want to know what their plan is for the equipment.

        Just “hypothetically” let’s say that today, a nice lady that came to us needing a full frame body for low light images. She has ongoing work that requires shooting in a dark theater and cannot use flash. Her current camera is far too noisy. She just got this gig and it came by referral. If she loses it, she will likely lose all referrals from them. Her images are far too grainy to be blown up to poster size for the theater company. Her credit was nil. She is a single mother supporting two kids by herself and has no child support because the baby daddy split the country. She didn’t have bad credit. She just had very little credit and a very low score. But we have looked at her business and talked to the theater company today as well to confirm that she is doing that work for them. We looked at her bank record and she has never had a single overdraft. We even looked at her images and her work is good, but the low light noise and color cast is killing her images. All be told, it looks like we can approve her to get a new body. There is no way she would have been approved anywhere else at the rate we gave her. She said she looked all over for the past week.

        Can you tell me that’s not helping someone? That is EXACTLY what we want to be doing with this. That is what makes us smile. Will we be able to do that every time? No. I wish it were possible. But we will try our best to do that as much as possible for people.

        Call it immoral if you like, but today, we helped her save her business and gave her an opportunity to build something from this. Once her payment history is recorded with us, she can move on to less expensive financing or probably pay cash from what it looks like her theater company work will bring in.

        I ask you…how many companies would do that?

        • Peter Kelly

          I don’t often comment here, but I feel I must on this occasion.

          First, the example you gave is merely a typical business proposition that would carry a business plan and cashflow that could be presented to any financial institution. If it had all the evidence you suggest then I doubt there would be too much difficulty sourcing finance from various places.

          However, your example is rather far-fetched, in that the one company making the referral would be aware of the standard of the woman’s product (otherwise they would look ridiculous) and the time scale for most photographic work would not reasonably allow time for someone to finance, source, buy and become sufficiently familiar with a camera. It is the same as most fields in this respect. Otherwise I might as well tender for some local building work and ask that the buyer waits while I buy a digger, concrete mixer, and acquire the skills to build…

          Furthermore, you earlier quoted that the rate of failure of photography businesses is high. This is simply down the money coming in not exceeding the money going out, and your finance will just add significantly to that problem.

          Ultimately, as is becoming far too common these days, your plan is merely a system for you to rearrange the total share of wealth so that you have more of it, for very little in return and certainly nothing that creates more.

          If you really had photographer’s welfare at heart, you’d organise a system whereby those such as the woman you mention could perhaps buy second hand, or borrow the missing gear.

          Too many ‘financial institutions’ are nothing more than usurers and you are no different. Your plan and actions, measured against my code, are distinctly immoral and you should be ashamed.

          • RTO Camera

            What you propose sir, is a charity, not a business.

            Secondly, you are not evidently in tune to how business comes to a lot of photographers. The marketplace is not particularly in tune to the value of a professional photographer. They are also entirely ignorant to how lighting conditions effect the finished product, since their little image from their iPhone looks just great. Well, they haven’t tried to blow it up to poster size either. So they know someone who does photography and they ask them to do it. Why? Because they know the person as a friend or close associate. This person got this gig because one of the theater company directors is a close friend. That is how a lot of things happen in this world. But in the end, if she cant deliver what they need, they will go somewhere else, and she will also lose the faith of that friend in viewing her as a professional.

            I hate to say it, but weddings are extremely common for someone to ask a friend they know who does photography to do it for them, and then the photographer realizes they need to upgrade their work and equipment. With months to prepare, this is entirely feasible.

            And I must confess, this was not hypothetical. It will be the majority of our business and thus far is a common sort of example.

            Now, as for the risk and reward of our business plan, that is for us to decide. Just as it is for the photographer to decide if the benefit to them outweighs the cost.

            Taking a portion of wealth created, is a reasonable expectation. Strapping someone with a payment they cannot make is a downright stupid business model, and that is most certainly not in our plans. We look at the person and the whole business. Is their plan and equipment need a guarantee they will succeed? No. Of course not. But we are looking at businesses and what we feel they would need, and then evaluating if we think they have what it takes to make the most of that opportunity. Will we get it right every time? Of course not. But that is our goal.

            All of this input has led to another element that we planned on, but has become especially attractive to me, is to have exclusive mentoring and video seminars available to our clients to counsel them on growing their business. I ma actually writing up some plans on how we can do and offer that. So then the fees that are paid for the lease are actually also giving them other benefits and return. Oddly, one of the first things will be to tell them not to ever lease from us again! This is intended as a tool to a better path. Our plan is also to build that base of photographers from this sector, and then offer more conventional financing to them down the road. We will be at an advantage with them to offer better rates than anyone else, because we know them and have an internal and very thorough and good credit reference that no other finance service will have. But shush. That’s a secret.

          • Helena

            “I hate to say it, but weddings are extremely common for someone to ask a friend they know who does photography to do it for them, and then the photographer realizes they need to upgrade their work and equipment. With months to prepare, this is entirely feasible.”

            A friend who expects you to plunge yourself into huge amounts of debt in order to have the latest equipment to shoot their wedding is a shitty friend. Likewise, a professional photographer who can’t work with the equipment they have shouldn’t really be accepting to shoot the wedding.

            From what you are describing, it seems like you’re catering to hobby photographers who are charging a bit on the side, not professional leasing agreements with fully fledged businesses. The latter wouldn’t need your services, or would at least lease equipment through a more reputable outfit.

          • RTO Camera

            You are making a big assumption there and delving into details that are pure speculation. We deal with individual customers and their needs and situations. It is up to them to determine their need, and it is up to their customer to decide who to hire. We have no control over that. The market will be what the market will be. Someone can accept a job knowing they can do it, but can do a better job with other equipment. Again, the details are not something you can assess from your chair. You have no way of knowing another persons situation. We do, and that is why, going back to your question, that we get as much detailed information as possible.

            Some who is a part-timer or “soccer mom” photographer has every right to make a decision on how they want to make the jump to a higher level. They can decide not to use us. Our service is not compulsory or taking advantage of anyone. They are fully capable of making a decision on how to grow their business. Our aim, as I have state numerous times, is to serve customers for whom we are providing a net positive return opportunity. That ensures our investment. When it comes down to it, that is what we are doing. We are making an investment the photographer. The person. Not just a number, like all of the other services in this sector.

          • Helena

            Just out of pure curiosity, how many people have taken you up on this so far in the last 2 months?

          • Shhhhh thats a secert.

            Sent from a iPhone, please excuse the brevity and typos.

          • Peter Kelly

            What I propose, Sir, is that people behave like decent human beings, instead of selfish, money-grubbing, usurers, excusing their appalling behaviour by pretending it is of wonderful benefit to society.

            Furthermore, I am a professional photographer of many years service and know exactly how it works in terms of getting business. Your example simply highlights just the sort of person who is most likely to fail as they take work on that they are not equipped to do. Your method of bridging the gap only makes the ultimate failure more likely and quicker.

            As to taking a portion of the wealth, I suspect that you, as with so many financial institutions, don’t actually realise what money is or where it comes from. You blithely talk about making profit as though that in itself is wealth creation.

            Certainly, society needs a means to move money around and those services need to be paid for. It is the lubrication of industry. Your variety, though, merely adds sawdust. It might sound smoother for a brief moment, but everything will grind to a halt sooner or later and often there is an explosion as that happens. I need only to mention the credit crunch to prove my point entirely.

          • RTO Camera

            By definition usury is any interest that is charged. I was a photographer for many years as well and am very aware of how the business works. But also, I am aware of the customers with this need. They will fill that need with other companies that will stick it to them and have no care about their success. We structure entirely differently, but you would never acknowledge that, nor do we need you to. You are not our customer.

            I entirely understand the principle of “wealth creation” and it is not reflective of your comments. But we aren’t not here to debate economics.

            Suffice to say that people have the freedom to choose, and if what we provide gives them a net positive, where they would not have had a positive at all, or much less of a positive, then that is meeting our mission. We will serve that customer better than anyone else, with a personal interest in seeing their business grow, as that also benefits us. What we are doing is nothing different than a venture capitalist does, except we don’t take a permanent piece of the company.

          • Peter Kelly

            You need to check your definitions! Usury is ‘The practice of lending money and charging the borrower interest, especially at an exorbitant or illegally high rate.’

            Furthermore, what is this “..other companies that will stick it to them..”? The exact point I and others are making is that is precisely what you will be doing. You will be lending in circumstances and to people where there is very good business and moral reasons why that shouldn’t happen, but that doesn’t seem to bother you in the slightest.

            As to not debating economics, that is at the very heart of this whole nonsense! As I pointed out before, the credit crunch was caused by outrageous and ludicrous lending because financial institutions jumped on the gravy train to make loads of money (I say ‘make’, but it is nothing of the sort, merely grabbing a greater share of already existing money). The vile thing is that many of the individuals kept their ‘immoral’ earnings and ordinary people were left to pick up the pieces.

            And no, I don’t think what you do varies much from a venture capitalist, as a very good proportion of those are immoral and greedy, in my opinion.

            Clearly, you are not going to be swayed by me. You may honestly believe the tripe you are writing, but however you put it will not make it good or right. I can only hope that there are few who will be lured by your false promises of future wealth and success.

            For my part, I have had enough of this grubby subject and will not reply again, so feel free to have the last word.

          • Me, Myself and I

            “I hate to say it, but weddings are extremely common for someone to ask a friend they know who does photography to do it for them, and then the photographer realizes they need to upgrade their work and equipment. With months to prepare, this is entirely feasible.”

            OUCH … that … right there … ouch.
            Way to get the hackles up on us wedding photographers.

          • RTO Camera

            Sorry, but that is the nature of business, competition. If they can compete with you, then you have to up your game too. Right? are we enabling more people to compete, yes. Of course we are.

            All along, I have been of the notion that this is real reason that there is a tone of animosity to this thread.

          • Me, Myself and I

            No, otherwise we’d be far more pissed at rental places like lens rentals or B&H or Henry’s or … since their daily or weekend rates are far more attractive to the occasional shooter.

            On top of that, you said earlier that you were targeting smaller lease totals … are you suggesting that people should shoot weddings with one entry level DSLR and a consumer level lens with no backup gear and no flashes?

    • Me, Myself and I

      “Again, it is anyone’s choice to use alternative financing.”

      You SAY that but that’s the reason the housing market nearly collapsed the american banks and dragged almost the whole world down with it.

      And no matter how you couch your terms … in the end, the interest paid over 24 months (2 years) is along the lines of 100%

      I just plugged in 3500$ in your system … it said payments of 303$ / month for 24 months. 303 X 24 = 7272$ or 107.77% in fees.

      A credit card at 15% for a loan of 3500$ would give me monthly payments of 169.70$ / month.

      • RTO Camera

        You are not calculating interest. It is fees. Also, how long would it take to payoff that $3500. The industry averages for that amount, I would need to look at our research stats, but from memory I recall a period of over 36 months at the minimum payment. Most credit card holders pay the minimum payment for long periods of time, and payoff the lump sum later, unfortunately with other credit (home equity). Obviously, this is not wise.

        You are also assuming that our customers would have a credit card to use. This is usually not the case. Or, they do not want to use up the limit of the card, because they need to keep it for emergencies or cash flow needs (like covering expenses in the course of a month where you get one big check at the end of the month…etc) – and do not qualify for another card. Revolving credit is increasingly difficult to get approved for.

        Predatory lending and absolute fraud, as well as other completely criminal moves by major banks and appraisers is what caused the run up to the financial collapse. But what actually caused the collapse was deregulation of the banking industry on how investments were packaged and sold. And ultimately, it was the unregulated derivatives market that allows the collapse. Trust me, I know much about this. I am in the finance business, and have friends at the top of two of the top three banks in the nation.

        Predatory lending is not simply high rate lending. It involves fraud and deception and willful intent. We do no such thing. Everything is right there in our website, and we put the payments right on the front page…first thing you see.

        The other factor that led to the collapse was drastic overbuilding and speculation in the housing market (people flipping homes instead of making a home out of them) and adjustable rate mortgages. I personally feel that adjustable rate mortgages should be outlawed. I would never ever ever have any sort of adjustable rate credit, as it is not something I can control and budget.

        Would you call a 22% net profit for a business a greedy enterprise? What is your photography business’s net profit? I bet it is much higher than that. I was a photographer for 12 years. I know the margins. Your profit percentages are higher than ours…why is your business not considered a greedy ripoff?

        • Me, Myself and I

          “You are not calculating interest. It is fees. Also, how long would it take to payoff that $3500.”

          Actually on the credit card example I WAS actually properly calculating interest but not on your system, you are correct.

          • RTO Camera

            Yes, and our statistical risk of loss versus that of the typical credit card customer is nearly 18 times higher. And again, most of our customers do not qualify for a credit card, or do not have a high enough limit to make their needed purchase.

            There is the additional consideration that a credit card balance is a revolving account that is best used for ongoing cash flow purchases. Using up your revolving credit for large purchases can hurt a business in other ways. For instance, for a portion of my time as a full time photographer, most of my income was from a retainer I received from an agent in the entertainment industry. I would get paid once per month, yet I would incur various costs through the month to the tune of about $5,000. I put that all on the credit card (which had a $7500 limit) and then paid it off when my check came in each month. I would not qualify for another credit card under typical credit terms. If I would have purchased a $3000 body on that card, I would have not allowed me to pay all of those bills each month, but not because I did not have the income to do so.

            So again, it depends on each business’s situation.

      • ALP

        I’d be surprised if this would even be legal in the state of Washington as the AG put some severe limits on what interest rates can be charged here. We don’t have payday loan places because they can’t make money under the state limits. I worked I credit in college and felt guilty charging 28% interest on jewelry. This? This is ridiculous.

    • Me, Myself and I

      Another question … if this is geared for businesses … why do you need:

      – Spouse’s information
      She’s not registered with my business.

      – Detailed Housing information

      I’m incorporated (I’m not but you get the idea), why do you need to know about my house?

      – Utility information
      ??? WHY? If I have missed payments or anything, they’ll show up in my credit check … but even then … I’m incorporated, why do you need to know about my house?

      – Contact information for your landlord or mortgage company
      I’m incorporated, why do you need to know about my house?

      – Your vehicle information, including color and license plate number
      I’m incorporated, why do you need to know about my car?

      – Financial information, including bank account numbers
      Sort of makes sense … but then again, this would show up in a credit check.

      – Your business information

      FINALLY something that makes sense.

      – Detailed information about other sources of revenue

      ??? Credit checks?

      – Four personal references
      I’m incorporated, why do you need to know?

      – Three business references

      That makes some sense … some.

      • Factitious_Detector

        HERE IS WHY:
        “I give permission and understand that you may contact any person or entity listed on this form at any time for any reason related to my application or my resulting account if approved. I fully release RTO Camera from any and all liability for any damage that may result from such contacts or attempts to locate or contact me to resolve account issues. My signature below indicates that I am knowingly and voluntarily waiving, for the purposes of this application and any resulting agreement, certain protections and rights under federal or state jurisdiction privacy laws.”

        In other words you give them “permission” to harass the fark out of you, and your spouse, probably worse, contact your job, etc, and supposedly you can’t do anything about it, if for some reason you can’t afford their bloated interest rates, or provide your first born or some other fine-print thing they “forget” to mention to you during the acquiring of “credit”. SO that would be why they want all of that seriously PERSONAL information from you, for a bloody camera lens.

    • Factitious_Detector

      Why do you keep referencing these companies, as if they are models of good business behavior? They are not, and exist to prey upon low-income people and families, and young people, not only to turn a ridiculously inflated profit, but to repossess the item once the “owner” cannot pay, only to “rent” it again.

      No amount of slick speak is going to work here. We have seen YOU a million times… the guy(s) with the myriad of businesses, all with some form of public complaint lodged against them, most of which seem to disappear suddenly, and oh look… more businesses pop up. You are an “onion”, and there are a million of you. You all “talk” the same, and act the same, but in the end your intent is always along the same lines as Rent A Center and Aaron’s, and people like us, have every right to point out your SMALL PRINT to the world, just as you have the right to charge ridiculous mark-ups on your “leases” or whatever the hell you call it.

      • RTO Camera

        A “myriad of businesses all with some form of public complaint lodged against them” is not accurate at all. RTO Camera has no such complaints whatsoever. We have yet to have a single customer complaint. Though I am sure we will at some point. Doing business with the public, it is inevitable. Aarons Furniture and Rent-A-Center have thousands of complaints. However, I used them years back to build credit. I paid what I was supposed to and accepted the terms. I felt it was worth it because it impacted my credit positively, and opened up much better a lower cost financing options for me. Everyone has their reasons for the decision they make. You can obviously decide that you have other options, and we urge you to choose those.

        There is one business with one complaint, anonymously posted. That photographer was in breach of contract, and ousted by the jeweler after multiple complaints. I even personally travelled to Austin TX to assist her and work with the jeweler to forge a better relationship. I even bought her dinner to discuss how to better manage the relationship. She makes entirely false claims, and the only reason we cannot sue her is because we cannot technically connect her complaint to her identity. But as you may notice, we know exactly who it is. How? Because she was the only one. We spent more on that photographer than we ever brought in, by far, trying to help her build her business with wedding referrals. One must also consider that not all photographers run a good business either, as evidence by this very site. Why is it assumed that the ONLY complaint received, is from someone credible?

        • Me, Myself and I

          “RTO Camera has no such complaints whatsoever.”

          RTO has been incorporated for less than 3 months (9-25-2014) … that’s like saying a Billy has never pooped in all his life when he is a day old.

          I think both you and Facticious are jumping the gun a bit here.

          I’m not a fan of “the-site-that-shall-not-be-named” myself but her complaint seems pretty legit at face value.

          • RTO Camera

            It is jumping the gun…on your part, to judge a company with nothing to base it on other than your own speculation and assumptions. And it is absolutely false and inaccurate to state that there is a myriad of companies along the way, all with complaints. That is absolutely false. One complaint does not constitute a “myriad” – please be reasonable and fair.

            The photographers complaint is just one side of the story. How does that make it legit? Were you party to the phone calls I received from the CEO of the jeweler? You should hear the jewelers side. It was their option to approve or remove a photographer at their discretion. There were multiple complaints. There were also complaints from couples. We did the best we could to assist her. I think our position is validated also by the fact that I know exactly who it is.

            No business can please 100% of the people 100% of the time. But that is our aim. Also, not every business product succeeds. That does not constitute a scam by any stretch. Some products and services do not scale, and have flaws in the business plan…etc. Any of the above does not constitute a scam.

            Yes, our fees are high. But they are as low as this high risk segment allows and still be able to sustain business. Other services are much higher, and our aim was to do better, and treat people better in the context of this type of service. Assuming that people are going to always use services like this, we take pride in being a relief from the other guys. We are a better choice.

            And despite being a challenge, I welcome these opportunities to hear feedback and respond, and also compel us to continually consider how we can be better than the other guy.

          • Me, Myself and I

            Like I sad “seems legit on the surface” not “is legit”.

            As for jumping the gun myself I took the info on your site and did the math …

  • Me, Myself and I

    Hummm … DiY Photography has an interesting peice on this.

    The average credit card interest rate in the US just dropped to 14.95%, but, for argument’s sake, let’s just say the interest rate is 20%. If you were to take the hypothetical amount above of $5,612 and were to pay it off in 24 months at 20% interest, your monthly payments would only be $286, and your total (including interest) would only be $6,864…compared to the nearly $12,000 through!

    • RTO Camera

      Yes, as I have stated. If you have a credit card available, certainly go with that. But there are cases in business where it is not someone’s best choice to use up their available credit with a large purchase. the example you give is not the norm. Statistically, most people drag their balance out much further than that.

      As implied above, most of our customers will not have a credit card available to them for such a purchase.

      Secondly, our target customer is between $1,000 and $5,000. We are happy to offer leases above that amount for different market rates and evaluate them on a case by case basis. The rate for a $5,000+ lease would not be what is shown on the website. This is good input for us though, as we will now add a note that if you are looking for more than $5000 in equipment, to contact us by email first. At that amount, the profile of risk changes completely. If you qualify for that much, you likely have better credit than our average client. We can offer competitive leasing terms for you based on that. Our market research indicates that leases above $5000 in this category will be quite rare. However, if that is the case, we will surely accommodate that business and give you a quote, which you can shop around.

      Same goes for our payments. You can shop them around like anyone. If you can get a better rate, we urge you to go with that. Paying more fees than you have to is never a good idea. Always do your shopping and make business decisions that yield a net positive return for you.

    • Helena

      I just put this through a leasing calculator in the UK. Same figure £5612. Even with a longer 36 month term, you pay £8172, far less than the equivalent through RTO. I wonder how they justify such gargantuan interest rates compared to other leasing companies.

      • Me, Myself and I

        The higher risk from their customers having bad credit. I UNDERSTAND that that’s why they charge so much more. I just don;t understand why anyone would agree to those terms. It makes no sense.

        Oh I know he’ll come here and answer “It’s a good tool to rebuild your credit” but at that point might as well just get a credit card with a cosigner at an elevated interest rate … if RTO is expecting customers to be able to not miss a payment then it would make more sense for the person to get a “credit building card”

        Capital One offers a credit card of 300$ or more where you need to give a deposit/security (75$ or 300$) at 19.8% interest rates. It’s not enough to buy a 5DMKIII with but if you are looking to rebuild your credit …

        • RTO Camera

          Yes. Of course if those are your options. That is your best choice. As I have stated, we encourage you to take advantage of whatever is best and available to you. Every situation is different.

          If you don’t have to use us, then please…don’t.

    • Helena

      Oh and none of the applications required more than my name, address for the past 3 years, occupation and equipment I wanted to lease.

      • RTO Camera

        That is generally just a preliminary inquiry. They will get a lot more information on you as the deal proceeds. Also, most leasing has much higher credit requirements than we have.

        • Helena

          I used to work for a cheque cashing business. We dealt with substantial cheques which I’m sure are far in excess of the figures you loan, but we still didn’t ask for ask for as much personal information and sometimes cheques bounced. We did not contact family, employers etc to recover the money.

          In addition, someone with that poor a credit rating really has no business getting additional credit IMHO. It may be good business but it’s cruel to saddle someone with that high an APR on expensive items.

          • ALP

            I worked in credit in college and never saw anything like the application they are asking for.

    • Cort

      If you check the link that article has been removed and the author cannot say why.

      • That sucks … I will email the author and see if i can repost it

  • RTO Camera

    RTO Camera is a financing option. There is no scam. Our state filing is erroneous by the state and will be corrected in the morning. The PO Box on the website was simply an update error by our developer and has been corrected. One can make an assessment if any product or service is worth the cost. But alleging criminal intent or activity is incorrect, unfair and libelous. We are a better option than all of our competitors. That business segment being alternative financing. If you can put it on a low interest credit card, then of course we recommend you to do that. We also recommend that you run your business with a ROI mindset and purchase equipment that impacts your sales and earnings.

    That being said when there are few other options, we take pride in being able to give people a choice, at the best possible rate and terms that can be offered in this high risk leasing sector.

    As for other business interests by any of the principles of the company. Having other business interests is no indication of another. Crimson Fuel was a startup company that looked to a crowdfunding resource. Were were in fact bought out before the company was even formally organized, GasTechno energy and fuels, a methanol gas-to-liquids company in the oil and gas industry. Scott Morris (me), the principle, still maintains his interest in GasTechno and I am listed in their stock offering documents registered with the SEC, as the Chief Development Officer.

    RTO Camera is another business venture by myself, as I have multiple business interests. We are partnered with a capital firm that provides our cash assets for leasing equipment. That same firm is a prominent capital provider for leases with numerous cities and municipalities, specializing in emergency and law enforcement vehicle and equipment leasing.

    The State of Alabama filing is erroneous and will be corrected in the morning. We have no idea how that was misplaced. Our corporate filing documents, nor our IRS registration has any such business description on it. Of course, it is not out of the realm of possibility that a state would make administrative errors. We invite you to check on the update of this as it is corrected. It is actually quite fortunate that this was brought to our attention, as we would have had no reason to check this.

    Priceless Moments Marketing does have a negative report on – We provided a service through jewelers to generate wedding business via engagement photos with major jewelry brands. The photographer in the complaint was one that was rejected by the jeweler for poor service. She was quite unhappy and made allegations that were not true. If they were true, she would have put her name to them and made a claim.

    Priceless Moments Marketing had a good business model that is viable on an individual level. However, working with large chains of jewelers and their sales staff, as well as various photographers became challenging to coordinate to say the least. It was literally like herding cats. Mostly though, it was a combination of sales people not seeing value in the engagement photos and not sending referrals to the photographers as agreed. This of course, led to photographers not having confidence in the relationship and not maintaining or fulfilling the referrals. Though we reached solutions toward the end, we determined that the amount the referrals were worth to photographers did not provide enough revenue to sustain the company. We ended business, and all photographers that had made membership payments to us, were refunded by our capital investor.

    Interestingly however, if you look on Shark Tank, an individual did use the very same names and business model as we did, and gained investment from the Sharks to start a paparazzi engagement photo business. We are quite sure they will encounter the same issues we ran in to.

    Businesses are ventured and many do not succeed. That does not constitute a scam by any stretch.

    Though I can see some reaction to certain inconsistencies, those are simple elements and have been corrected. It seems that there is a huge overreaction to this business that simply offers a service no different than many others.

    That being said, let me tell you how we aim to be different. We have a very detailed application. Why? Because it lowers our risk, and enables us to lend to a business that otherwise is not considered creditworthy. We believe that the traditional means of evaluating risk is not accurate. We want to know you. We want to know your business. We want to see your work. We will talk to people you work with and ask them about you. And then, once we have enough information to have as much faith in your talents and future success as you do, we will provide the financing to get you what you need. If you have other means, we WANT you to use those. It does not benefit us to take on a risk with a business that is not making a good decision, as we would lose our investment. High fee financing is a good choice for a select niche of businesses in specific situations.

    We are making an investment in you, not much different than if someone came to you and offered capital for your business in exchange for a percentage of ownership in the business. This is common in the form of venture capital. But it is not efficient for venture capital to invest in businesses as small as photography businesses.

    Our niche is to keep photographers who rent their equipment often, from wasting that money. Our niche is the photographers that are turning to other high fee services that are more expensive than we are, of which we have found all of them are. If you find another finance service that can accommodate the photographers we can approve, and offers better rates, please let us know. We believe we offer the lowest rates possible in this risk category and genuinely seek to provide a better service than our competitors.

    Anyone who has questions, is welcome to email me directly. But senseless bashing and false allegations are not any way to address your concerns. We are not the best option for everyone. Certainly not. But we are the best option for some, and those are the people and businesses we will serve. We don’t hide anything. Everything is disclosed on our website. If there is any way you think we might be able to help, please let us know. I appreciate the opportunity to go on record here and respond to all of this, and for bringing some important details to my attention.

    • Helena

      Please explain why you need so much sensitive and personal information from applicants.

      • RTO Camera

        Thank you for those simply asking a question Helena and not jumping into scam theories and the like. I explained that in some other replies here but will gladly explain to you.

        We are in a high risk area. Photography businesses have one of the highest failure rates in the nation. But having been a photographer myself for many years, I feel that we can recognize those that others might see as too much risk.

        We want to get to know you, and your work. We want to know how you conduct yourself in your business. And yes, we need to make sure that you can personally guarantee the lease for your business. The more we know, the more we can look at things that would qualify you in our eyes, that others would never look at.

        Also, that information allows us to reduce our risk, in such case that we do need to recover the equipment. If you end up not being able to pay, we require that you return the equipment. We will pay for the shipping and cost of the return. But if you do not, we need to know how and where to come and get it. Each piece of information allows us to score you and make a complete and personal evaluation. We will look at your photo work. Obviously, if a photographer is just terrible, we are much less likely to approve them. But generally this will also show up in other areas of the business we look at.

        In summary, we want to develop a full and complete picture of you and your business so that we can find a reason to approve you and believe in you, as much as you believe in yourself. That may sound like fluff talk. But its true. Just because the fee is high, doesn’t mean we aren’t sincerely motivated to help your business. We are not the best solution for everyone of course, but when you really need it, we can help.

        Our application is a secure socket submission, and we use DocuSign as our signature validation and storage location. They are a reputable global company with a perfect security record to date, and are used by thousands of employers and other institutions that utilize sensitive documents and information.

        As always, anyone may feel free to give us a call. If I am in the office, I like to answer the phone and talk to people. If not, I am sure anyone that picks up can help you.

        • Helena

          While I haven’t theorized, please do not assume I don’t think this is a scam. I think the levels of personal data you collect are unacceptable. If you need to find someone who has defaulted on a loan, you involve a debt collection agency, you don’t contact relatives, employers etc in a bid to track the person down. I imagine you expect a high default rate seeing as the payments must be very high to absorb the astronomical interest rate, but still, you’re collecting far too much sensitive information to justify it.

          The fact that you say you look at photos etc to build a picture of the business, but surely the clients you get won’t be outstanding as those people have a successful business and are more likely to secure financing through traditional means.

          I looked up a company I know offers credit on purchases. Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS is £1699. Way beyond my means. With their credit offer, you pay… Wait for it… £1699. 12 months interest free credit. I am thankful I’m in the UK.

          • Marc W.

            I got my D700 near the release date with BestBuy on their cars with 0% interest for 12or 18 months or something.

          • RTO Camera

            Again. That is great. We would recommend that every time if it available to you. Best Buy uses GE Capital as their credit provider, and their qualification requirements actually require a decent credit score. Our clients generally wont have a credit score or will be below 600. What we are seeing mainly, are people who have had a personal bankruptcy or foreclosure, and cannot get credit, but still have a good flow of business and need to upgrade in order to take more business. Again, this is where we take a risk on their potential as much as anything else, and you simply wont find a finance or leasing company that looks at and qualifies a customer in this fashion.

          • RTO Camera

            We only do business in the USA. And again, if that is a better deal for you then by all means, there is nothing keeping you from doing that if you qualify and are approved. We recommend it. Collecting this sort of detailed information is common among the rent-to-own retailers in the USA. Generally however, an RTO business deal with local people. We are working nationwide and cannot meet these folks. So we have to go a little further to make sure we know who they are, or we open ourselves up to complete fraudsters. The camera and lens rental houses deal with fraud and theft on a monthly basis, as I am friends with someone with a prominent online lens rental business.

            We do not use collection agencies. We are our own collector. And again, having that information on hand provides for immediate recovery. Even using a collection agency, this information would need to be mined by them, which comes at a cost.

            Your input is valid of course. But this is the way we structure the application. It is a free market, and if someone is not comfortable with providing that information, they can put “NA” in that spot and we may be fine, but then again…we may not.

            Really, the most value is to generate a full picture of the status of the business and individual in the absence of conventional credit assessment factors. Having that detailed information up front, decreases risk. In other words, if a person might be inclined to “blow it off” they know we will be able to recover the equipment. They are dramatically more likely to simply send it back. Historic data and statistics show this, which is how risk gets calculated. It might be an awkward metaphor, but having a loaded gun hopefully means never having to use it. The fact that the other party knows this, keeps them from crossing a line. Keeping in mind that this only applies once they have defaulted on the plan.

          • captain-confuzzled

            okay, so let me get this straight…you had a photography business that is no longer in business, hmmm, (I know, don’t tell me, you decided it wasn’t what you wanted to do, uh huh) but you feel able to judge the likelihood of success of other photographers. Run people, I say run!

            I get the whole serving the disenfranchised thing, and yeah, sure you are entitled to run a business, and make a profit – by the way, have you ever actually managed to do that with any business yet? you do sure bounce around from business to business, I can’t even keep up with all the business that appear to have had a relatively short run when I look at the history as Google presents it. I’m sure you may find your customers and if you sleep at night, good for you. I know you understand that we are also entitled to our opinion of your tactics.

          • RTO Camera

            Captain – whoever you are (I am not hiding my identity) – Yes. I had a photography business. I shot over 500 weddings and had numerous commercial clients, including cast members from Deadliest Catch and Bering Sea Gold. I was attracted to the business because I very much enjoyed weddings and capturing those moments for people. Most of my personal friends in my area, I met as clients. Overall, I just burned out. It wasn’t enjoyable for me anymore. I ventured into another business that I felt had the potential to change America for the better with an alternative fuel, and that I had a passion for. That business was Crimson Fuel. That venture was bought out before we ever even got started, by a gas-to-liquids manufacturer and I was offered equity in the company, and an executive position. The company is currently in a capital raise and preparing for an IPO, leaving me with free time to pursue other projects. I was approached by some capital partners to start RTO Camera, as they have a long background in capital and finance services.

            It obvious that no matter what I say about my motivations, you will choose not to believe me. So I make this statement for anyone else that might be reading this. I genuinely aim to bring a better option and character to an alternative lending marketplace that provides a tool for photographers to get ahead and grow their business. It is not the right choice for everyone by any means. But for those that are faced with this challenge and will go with some alternative finance resource, or continue wasting money renting equipment, we can provide a better answer and a partner that takes an interest in helping you grow your business.

            And making that statement and doing what we do, is all we can do. People will decide what they want to believe no matter what. Its your choice, and also the choice of our customers. Plain and simple.

        • You dont get it … Other compaines do not ask for that type of information.
          It comes down to one this would you as a customer feel comfortable giving anyone company that information and would you as a customer sign a deal with a interest rate that high.
          To save face i know your answer would be yes but your intetnal monolog voice is screaming “hell fing NO!”

          • RTO Camera

            We do get it. Absolutely. And yes, other companies do ask for this type of information. Not specifically, but of this nature, most certainly. In fact, our application was modelled after a very popular rent-to-own furniture chain.

            If someone is uncomfortable with providing that information, they can always call us and check us out further.

            But you have to ask yourself this. If I called you and asked you to lend me a couple thousand bucks, and you don’t know me at all, what would you say? What would it take for you to say yes and send me the money today?

            And you are right that your internal voice should be saying “Heck no” – and we sincerely hope you will only ever need to use us one time, and can meet your finance and equipment needs in a more conventional manner. We are a temporary tool to get you to the next step, not an ongoing resource.

    • U Really That Dumb?

      Wow! Sounds like you have the best legal advice you can afford!

      There are a number of jurisdictions where the aforementioned business model is illegal. Especially after the recent housing crisis.

      Some things that others thinking about going in to this type of thing should research BEFORE starting a business like this:

      Postal, RICO, Recording, Eavesdropping, Hard Money Lending, Loan Shark, Payday Lender, Lender, Rental, Interstate Commerce, Commerce, and Transactional laws in ALL jurisdictions! Why you ask? Nope, sorry, not going to give you the answer that easily. BUT, know this, you BETTER know all of those and many more inside and out! Why? You will be held to the strictest standard and failure to comply with any of those has landed many a people in jail.

  • Me, Myself and I

    Alabama Secretary of State Records.

    • RTO Camera

      Yes. That was shocking too. We would have had no reason to check that. Thank for calling it to our attention. It will be fixed tomorrow with a call to the secretary of state. It is unlikely that we will get them to print an error statement though.

      • Me, Myself and I

        You are welcome.

        You’ll find that the regular contributors here are quite good at what we call “investigoogling”.

        • RTO Camera

          It was helpful. We are hoping the state makes a correction very quickly. Suffice to say that they are being given an earful this morning. Nothing like giving a new business a kick in the teeth to start out…right? LOL

  • captain-confuzzled
  • Me, Myself and I

    RTO Camera,

    Do I think you are a scam? No.

    I think you probably work within the limits of the law and are most likely on the up and up.

    You say: “But alleging criminal intent or activity is incorrect, unfair and libelous. We are a better option than all of our competitors.”

    No one here (as far as I read) has alleged criminal activity. We QUESTIONED the legality of your business model but I don’t think any of us here has said that what you are doing is illegal.

    Between the high cost, invasive application process, erroneous registration information, p.o. box address … you can see why we might question some of this.

    Do I think your financing model is a good one for photographers? NO!

    The segment of the market you are targeting (the at risk segment that requires such stringent background checks) will on average default on payments partially due to the fact that the payments are so high and partially due to their own existing bad credit (otherwise they would choose a much lower cost financing option).

    If they need to lease gear from you at those rates for such extensive periods of times and their credit is so bad then they won’t remain photographers for long anyways.

    Because of those factors, it seems like you are preying on the gullible new photographers … the ones who just bought an entry level camera and opened a Facebook page to start doing photography… the ones that will fold within 6 months because they suck AND don;t understand how to run a business.

    I’m not saying that’s what you are doing but based on the market segment you are targeting and the high cost of your services, it gives that impression.

    Do I think you are greedy? Yes BUT …

    Yes I do but I don’t hold that against you … all businesses need to try and maximize their return on investment … the whole system is built on greed, on getting the most out of your clients as you can. There are entire books for photographers on how “not to leave money on the table”, on how to get your clients to purchase more prints … it is the nature of a capitalist system.

    Just look at the lengths that companies will go to get you to buy …

    Hopefully are are in this for the right reasons and not simply planning on capitalizing on the failures of a vulnerable market segment … if you are in this as a legitimate financing model then I wish you the best of luck.

    • RTO Camera

      Now see, that is a fair input and response. Yes, some of things you mention about the profile of people and business in this sector are true. But we are not a big company and do not need to write 100 leases per week either. Our projected net profit on the dollar for the year is a little over 22% and I would call that a good business, but certainly not greedy. A decent photography business will have a profit percentage much higher than that. Generally in this world, people only have a view within their immediate realm. They don’t generally consider the other factors, costs and loss rates of a given business model. That’s OK though of course. We are the only ones who need to understand that. Ultimately, it is as simple as a business owner deciding if the benefit justifies the cost. Obviously, we look at that too in our approval process.

      A new photographer in the game deserves an opportunity as well. We provide an option for them in how they want to pursue their passion. Personally, I genuinely expect to be a major factor in helping passionate artists get their business going, not unlike a venture capitalist helps a new business get off the ground. There has to be proportional return for the risk taken.

      We certainly recommend every business evaluate the cost and benefit of any decision in their business. Everything you do, including your time invested, should be tied to what it puts in your cash register, directly or indirectly.

      Something we hope to provide as well, will be free seminars and podcasts for our clients, on running a business such as determining costs, and more importantly, the means by which you determine what you charge and offer. We feel we can better the industry this way, and also ensure our clients bring in more money, thereby decreasing our risk as well.

      We want to be a partner in growing your photography business, not just someone who takes a cut of your work, and we will work on ways to get there, one step at a time. And though tasking, input like this is a good thing for our business as well. All growth has certain pains! We are from Alabama, so we will say – have a great day y’all.

    • RTO Camera

      Yes there are comments here that allege criminality. Several in fact. The OP by the site admin implies identity theft as well. So I will of course, nip that in the bud as absolutely as possible.

      • Me, Myself and I

        ” 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.”

        She didn’t allege anything … only that it is a concern and it is a concern … anyone asking you that level of information should popup some red flags. My bank certainly never asked for my Facebook information for my mortgage application.

        • RTO Camera

          I said the OP implied criminality and others have alleged it.

          And on the form and bank part, no they didn’t ask for that. But you had a credit rating for the bank to use too. That is conventional financing. Once again, we are not conventional financing. Banks don’t lend money to start ups or on business plans either.

          • ALP

            No, she said giving this much information could leave you open to identity theft, which is true no matter who you give it to.

          • RTO Camera

            I’m dropping this line of comment. This is semantics. But the statement “…makes identity theft a genuine concern.” implies criminality. Absolutely.

          • ALP

            Methinks the “businessman” doth protest too much …

          • RTO Camera

            Now you are being ridiculous. I have more important things to do with my time addressing genuine questions and concerns, than bickering about wording and how you choose to interpret it. It is just pointless to argue about wording. Doesn’t lead to anything at all. I made the statement about why we collect the info we do, quite clearly. So no…sorry to disappoint you – the “businessman” doth not protest too much.

            And yes, your tone is entirely rude. I have been rude to nobody here and spent much time genuinely addressing people’s concerns. That’s not enough for you, you need your entertainment apparently. I choose to drop this line of comment because it is no productive. Entertain yourself some other way.

          • U Really That Dumb?

            As was mentioned earlier, perhaps it’s time you step away from the computer and take a break. You are getting emotional and likely to say something you will regret. I’m SURE your attorney would tell you this!

            Speaking of, are they aware of this page? How about your investors? Have they seen it? What’s their opinion?

            Perhaps it’s better that you hire a PR firm to deal with this.

          • ALP

            Someone on the Internet didn’t agree with you!! Oh noes! I wasn’t being rude. I was being snarky. But your defensiveness is making you see libel lurking in every shadow.

  • AlleninBellevue

    I approached this discussion with an open mind. I think that RTO Camera has accurately stated their business plan and target market. They are looking for individuals whose financial situation is so bad that every other lender thinks that they have already borrowed more than they can repay. They are looking for people who haven’t been able to successfully run a photography business. RTO expects the majority their customers to fail. Their lease rates are high enough to cover their risk after a few months. If you fail at that point you have to return the camera and you still owe them money. You have provided them with the names of your employer, your apartment manager, your spouse, your friend and more. You gave them permission to contact everyone to try to collect from you. If you happen to make payments for two years – they give you the worn out camera that you have already paid for at least twice.

    They need customers who are so desperate or gullible that they will sign up before they read the actual terms of the lease.

    I doubt that anyone reading PhotoStealers is that desperate of gullible. It still affects us because people who are desperate for cash and are unable to market their photography can be tempted to borrow the work of others to get their business going.

    • RTO Camera

      That is inaccurate. We do not give anyone used equipment. EVER. We order all of the equipment new from major retailers in the industry, or direct from the manufacturer.

      We will offer used equipment as an alternative choice for customers. Generally however, used equipment is liquidated through other channels. Several of our retailers are asking to carry our used equipment in the future. Of course, we do not have any used equipment issues at this time, since we are new.

      Your claim is entirely false and this is the problem with people like you on these boards and forums. You simply decide what you want to believe and then state it as fact. I would not dignify your words with a reply, except that the majority of people still believe whatever they read on the internet.

      Why could you not have offered that in the form of a question? I would have been glad to answer that. In fact, we will be adding that to our FAQ’s today to make sure customers are properly informed.

      Any lease contract issued by RTO Camera, you do not owe any money when you return the equipment before the lease end. We do have a 3-6 month waiting period however (depending on the equipment type) before you are allowed to return it, obligation-free, and your credit will not be negatively reported. So yes, there has to be a point of regaining some return, as the equipment depreciates, and people send back damaged equipment because they are unhappy that they had to send it back…etc. It is a business of course, and we are not structured to take a loss. will we sell the used equipment for a profit? Of course we will. That is what business does.

      Also, you are incorrect in stating that we expect most of these businesses to fail. Not in the least. In fact quite the opposite. We expect they will likely fail without our service. We are looking for those clients where our service will make a difference, and after they are on the track they desire, they will never need us again.

      • Me, Myself and I

        “We do not give anyone used equipment. EVER.”

        Really? What will you do with the gear you collect when someone defaults?

        I’m not being confrontational, just curious.

        Also, I think you may have miss read the above statement.

        “If you happen to make payments for two years – they give you the worn out camera that you have already paid for at least twice.”

        He means that at the end of the 2 years you’ve paid for 2 cameras but have the one camera with 2 years wear and tear on it. He’s not saying you are giving them a used camera, just that they get to keep their 2 year old camera that they have paid double the cost for.

        I also think you need to step away form the computer for a bit, you aren’t really seeing the statements anymore and only attacks …admittedly some of those statements ARE attacks but your last few responses have bit a bit off the mark. :/

        This response is a good example of that: he didn’t say you gave used gear.

        You didn’t get Helenas tongue in cheek response (admittedly that one was a bit harder to get if you dind’t notice the emoticon).

        You claimed that the owner of PS has claimed you are committing identity theft when all she said was that with the thoroughness of the questions Identity Theft was a CONCERN.

        I’m sure you feel under attack here and I think its starting to show in your responses.

        • RTO Camera

          No. I said her statement implied criminality “…makes identity theft a genuine concern.” and that is quite clear. Certainly not something to ignore on our part.

          As for the returned equipment, I explained that quite thoroughly in my response.

          And any time you pay for something over time, OF COURSE at the end your product is used. Worn out? Doubtful. That’s up to you. But what he stated is true in any case, not just ours.

          I still have a D80 that I love to use on many occasions (mainly because I can beat it up and not care much – but I do love the color of the older sensors – just not high rez or good in low light)

    • ALP

      It also affects us because we’re human beings and, I say this after months if commenting here, intelligent and compassionate people who don’t like seeing anyone become a victim of the unscrupulous.

  • captain-confuzzled

    of course buyer beware, but a little bit of added info and warning to pay close attention to the details of the transaction doesn’t hurt anything either. Of course I’m sure you always read every detail of fine print on everything you do, as we all should, kudos to you there, but if this discussion gives people pause to at least pay close attention, then I’m all for it – even if RTO’s plan seems to be to flood these posts with verbiage to try and get past the concerns – an interesting approach – a bit like listening to a politician who speaks volumes but says little.

    • Helena

      I was thinking it sounded like a politician writing too. Answers questions without really answering questions.

    • RTO Camera

      There you go again…with your spin. Nope. We encourage everyone to read every letter of anything we send. After all, we spent a lot of time writing it, and that is at least polite…right? Please do read and understand everything. Ask us questions. Call. We will talk to you. I will talk to you. We will likely talk about more than that. We will talk about the biz and what you are working on, wish you a happy birthday…etc. This is about relationships. You cant ignore the numbers, and you cant ignore the people. They are equally important. Numbers in themselves do not define people and their potential.

      • captain-confuzzled

        my spin? now that’s just plain funny. Thanks for the laugh. It was almost as good as the one when I read a description of your role in Gas Techno Energy in their marketing stuff that your role is “Instinctive Business Developer”

        • RTO Camera

          See, you are simply here to entertain yourself. You have no idea what I brought and contribute to Gastechno, and I certainly have no need to justify it to you. Amuse yourself in some other combative way.

          • captain-confuzzled

            I am not the least bit entertained by all of this. I did not say I knew what you brought and contributed to Gastechno, only how they characterized it in their own marketing material. If you don’t like what they said, take it up with them. My opinion and reaction if I saw that statement in marketing material is my own and as I said, it is a good thing that I am not in the target market for Gastechno.

  • Helena

    Except they want to know what your profit margin is, and the name of your first born. :p

    • RTO Camera

      That is not on our application. But we would love to know that, and send us pictures. Like I said, we want to know our clients. The photography business is a business of course, but it is also very personal and full of passionate and talented creative people. So if you have some great pics of your first born, please drop us an email.

      • Me, Myself and I

        It was said “tongue in cheek”. Notice the smiley at the end.

        • RTO Camera

          I know. I was being a little sarcastic and calling your bluff. So as not to sound like a politician.

  • RTO Camera

    Thank Ric. Amen to that. Photographers have huge profit margins. I see so many people that hate for anyone else to make any money and its such a travesty, yet they are in a business with massive margins.

    But that being said, our risk and costs are high. The perception that we are shoveling cash into our pockets like the Monopoly Man (from the board game) is simply not accurate. Many finance companies in this sector go out of business because the do not manage the risk.

  • ALP

    And there are consumer groups all over the country that alert people to the fact that some business models, while legal, take advantage of the people that can least afford it. That’s what PS has done here. The business model is to take advantage of the desperate, ill-informed or not very bright. That doesn’t constitute libel. And I’m pretty sure there are a lot of state AGs that some would disagree with you about whose business it is, which is why so many of them go after businesses just like this one.

    • RTO Camera

      I didn’t say that giving an opinion was libelous. But calling someone or business a crook or a scam is making a statement of criminality, and that is libelous. Namely, because it is untrue.

  • U Really That Dumb?

    I just have to say all of this sounds a little to much like a snake oil salesman. It also reminds me of a photographer, turned podcaster, turned action and preset seller, turned backup solution seller, turned financial investment advice seller.
    His photography is mediocre at best. His podcast, while a hit for some, quickly ran dry and gimmicky and eventually sputtered. His actions and presets looked a lot like every other one on the market. Heck, some looked identical but with different names. His backup solution went belly up because of a number of ‘excuses’. None of which were his own of course! His financial investment advice was and is questionable at best and as far as I know, never made anyone any money. Heck, he even admitted that he owed a number of people money.

    Is this RTO? Not that I know of. BUT, like what was said before, buyer beware! You may loose more than you bargain for!

    • RTO Camera

      A agree, this business is filled with a lot of those people. Absolutely.

      But think about this. We are giving people money. We are taking a risk on their behalf. It is a completely different dynamic. Whats-his-name (and I know who you are talking about) was never anyone I bought a thing from.

      Certainly, choose carefully. That is exactly why I am investing the time to interact with all of you here. Its worth it, if we are going to be different from the others in the photography market, and the finance market.

  • It seems the entire community is talking about it.

    • captain-confuzzled

      see, Scott – free publicity! happy times for sure!

    • RTO Camera

      That site published entirely false and libelous material and violated our copyrights. They have been notified and we will pursue legal action that is already in motion. That kind of journalism is uncalled for.

      This discussion overall has been civil and mostly fair. That is why I am here. the other site will be dealt with. They crossed a line.

      Discussing products and levying an opinion on what they are worth, or giving advice that there are better options is one thing, and fine with us. We agree there may be better options available to you and encourage you to use them.

      But making false allegations and calling us a scam is libelous. That implies we are lying or misrepresenting what we offer. And this is absolutely untrue and will be dealt with in court.

      • U Really That Dumb?

        Have you watched the news? I mean like ever? Every consumer watch article does this. Yet despite all of the claims, similar to what you’re making, they continue? Why? Oh, that pesky little thing called the constitution. Again, have you talked to your lawyer? I mean about ALL of this? All of the articles that are out there? Everything you’ve said? Again, I doubt it or you wouldn’t be here commenting. But I’m curious, why haven’t you commented there?

      • That site is not false or libelous they got the information from your site.
        Why lie?

      • Michael Goolsby

        Buying gear through a business where, over 24 months, the buyer is effectively paying more than TWICE the retail cost of the camera is just financially STUPID. Some people might say that the business itself is pretty smart if they can get people to actually sign on with them. But I don’t think so. The ability to take advantage of the poor judgment of others has nothing to do with being smart, so long as one is sufficiently greedy and lacks enough scruples.

    • RTO Camera

      By the way, FlexShopper is an advertiser of theirs…and they are more expensive than we are. Check them out. They also don’t approve for the amounts we approve and they require access to your bank account for approval. Their service is terrible. Just get on there and try asking them questions. Ask them a direct question about what their rates are…etc. Good Luck with that.

      Funny how they post a scathing article about us, yet they have an advertising client that does the same thing…only worse…and Adorama uses FlexShopper.

  • captain-confuzzled

    RTO, you say that your web site is accurate, factual – I would like to see your calculation that shows that you are “a much more affordable alternative to renting equipment.” My quick calcs using a Canon 5d Mark III with 100mm 2.8L lens, shows that from Adorama, comparing the purchasing cost with rental cost, you could rent that combo for 3-day weekends for 80% of the weekends in a two year period for the same cost that your payment estimator shows. How many starting out or struggling photographers are booked 80% of the weekends in a straight two year period? If they are, and they aren’t making enough money to purchase some equipment after a couple of months, then they have bigger issues. I’m sure most professionals could get by with less than a Mark III and 2.8L lens for bit as well.

    • RTO Camera

      Captain, much more affordable. What does that unit cost per day? You only have use of that equipment for 3 days. Aside from that you have nothing to show for it. At the end of our lease, you own it and have a sellable asset.

      It is easily demonstrable that we are more affordable. Its not even close. For the same amount of time you would have the equipment with us, what would it cost to rent? What would you have to show for it when the term is complete?

      We are approximately the cost of a 5 day rental. The average rental period in the rental industry is 4.2 days, as related to me by a friend who owns one of those rental businesses.

      The libel comes from specific terms that I cannot discuss here, as they are now part of legal action. Suffice to say it is very clear under the law.

      • captain-confuzzled

        well I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on the definition of affordable.

      • “Sellable asset” you mean after 24 months i can sell a 2 year old equpiment for the value of what ?? After spending double just to get it … Can you say drop in the bucket.

        • barque

          If it’s a lens it would retain most of its value.

          My real world example: I am part-time, freelance, so I rent the Nikkor 70-200 mm 2.8 VRII for $44 a day at the local shop. (about $2300 lens new). I rent it 2 to 4 days a month. So I pay the same amount every month as I would pay to RTO to lease the lens, whereas I would have it every day of every month, and after 2 years it’s mine.

          Lenses retain most of their value. A 2-year-old Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII will sell right now for almost $1900. If we take away the resale value of my asset my lease overall will have cost me roughly $2400. About $3 per day.

  • GlennMcQuaig

    Well I, for one, am seriously disappointed with the continuous rude comments and accusations by the members here. No matter what your personal economic preferences are, from capitalism to socialism based, to simply keep attacking RTO and accuse them of criminal or amoral behavior is childish and pitiful.

    You don’t like what’s been told? Too bad. Run your own business the way you would run it and let RTO run their own business.

    It’s clear that there is nothing illegal going on. So get over it and move on.

    Now go ahead. Accuse me of being a shill for them. You know better. The behavior here disgusts me sometimes.

    • captain-confuzzled

      not going to accuse you of being a shill, but what’s it to you if we question his practices. No one has said he is doing anything illegal, but it is fair to make sure that people are alerted to the terms and conditions of doing business with RTO, and RTO has been here explaining. I take some serious issue with his implication that on the website everything is fully explained. Take this statement from the FAQ for instance: “Leases do not have interest rates. We do not charge interest. Leases use something called a money-factor. This is based evaluated risk and other factors that determine your payment. We aim to put our payments in a range that is affordable to you, and much less than renting equipment you don’t get to keep. We are also a better deal in most cases than putting the equipment on a credit card.” It may be legally correct, but I would characterize it as misleading, and I am entitled to my opinion and concern for potential customers. Should the customer do the calcs? of course, but a heads up to make sure they do, is hardly criminal. And saying that it is a better deal in most cases than putting it on a credit card is not really matching up with the calcs I’ve seen so far.

      • barque

        I don’t know if it’s a better deal than putting in on a credit card but it is a far far better deal than renting.

    • They talking about them here also so … you can make your opinions known

      • RTO Camera

        Yes, the same site that has a competitor as an advertiser…interesting…don’t you think?

        • U Really That Dumb?

          So now CNN, Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, etc. are no longer able to to do IJ or report because they have ads for competitors?

        • They don’t control the advertising ads its controlled by Google Adsense…come one do that was a really lame thing to say … guess what almost everytime I refresh the ad changes #ommygod

          • RTO Camera

            You do to control the advertising. Google allows you to designate parameters. Also, a site chooses to use Google ads. It is most certainly their choice and they receive ad dollars from that advertiser. Absolutely. Court of law says so. Do a little case research. But the point is, they are aware of it. Why not attack FlexShopper? They are far far worse than we are. In fact, we formed this business to combat businesses like that. Try dealing with them. Good luck.

          • To a point you can ..but Google at times place ads that has to do with the user browsing habits and or location. You know this I know this and the rest of the world does also.
            Its weird how Google places political ads that show up for my local district or Amazon ads follow me all over with products I look at a few days ago.
            Unlike you… on this subject I know what the hell I am talking about.

          • Celine (peaceetc)

            You can specify parameters to an extent, but, as Joseph said, they are tailor to one’s browsing habits, so DIY has no idea what is being shown to whom. You don’t get to sit and approve every ad that comes through. That’s a ridiculous argument, RTO, and you know it.

    • RTO Camera

      Thank you Glenn…one of the only people here that puts your name to your posts.

      • Celine (peaceetc)

        You don’t have your name on your post. Just thought I’d point that out.

        • RTO Camera

          I certainly do. RTO Camera.

      • I have my name up my real name 🙂

        • ALP

          My name is Amy Libby. Look me up. I’m not afraid.

      • Me, Myself and I

        I used to … things happened … I don’t anymore.

        • RTO Camera

          Uh huh…things happened…hmmm. So you did something illegal and scammed someone and now you have to hide your name. I get it. You’re a scam and a thief. Guilty guity guilty (sarcasm of course)

          • Me, Myself and I

            No, I pissed someone off who was outed on here as being a real thief … threats and the likes ensued.

    • Celine (peaceetc)

      Glenn, they’re free to charge whatever they like, as long as they follow the law. But Photo Stealers and others are also free to express their opinions on the matter, and to try to warn others so they know exactly what they would be getting into should they decide to do business with RTO Camera.

    • Justin Case

      Glenn, I really do think I understand where you are coming from, but I feel it’s kind of important to point out, when I checked this morning, there were 144 posts here. Of those, 49 were from RTO camera. I’m no economist or financial adviser, but by my photographer’s math that is a FULL THIRD OF THE POSTS that were by RTO. When he stopped posting, so did most of the commenters.

      RTO brought this on by using social media to try to drum up business. PS thought it was worthwhile to warn people who might not be aware of some issues with the company and it’s methods. To find out that another media outlet had retracted a VERY similar warning without any explanation makes a lot of us highly skeptical.

      I agree, the point seems to have been made. Questions have been asked and answered. And obviously, opinions have been offered. This is a community, and we won’t always agree, but I hope that doesn’t turn you off to the overall aim of this place, which is really about spreading ACCURATE information to benefit ALL photographers.

      • RTO Camera

        Yes. Accurate information would not have happened if I had not offered our replies. Absolutely. Yes. Nearly half the comments have been ours. Because that is logical math in responding to peoples comments and questions. As stated numerous times, we don’t have any problem with people making their own assessment. But using words like “scam” and “thief” and such cannot go uncontested. Silence is interpreted as guilt in our society.

        Even this article walked a thin line in alluding to us being an identity theft operation. A very thin line…

        Yes. The other article was deleted because it was not journalistic in the least sense. It was slanderous and libelous. There was not the slightest element of investigative or fair reporting to the article at all.

        We were about to get a quick injunction against them and get the page shut down by their web host for copyright infringement as well. We offered them an opportunity to rewrite the article with our opportunity to be quoted. We even stated that we made no requirements about the conclusion of their article and the value of our service. So long as it was factual and true and not slanderous and libelous, and that they state that they receive ad dollars from one of our competitors. They chose to take the article down. The site owner and I had a very productive and general civil conversation and reached a fair agreement.

        Its not journalism. It is drama driven method to keep web-hit counts high for ad revenue and sponsors. Which is why they didn’t want to write a fairly presented article, because that doesn’t rile people up. Its not juicy or sexy enough.

        Their “warning” was not any way similar to this one. Not even close. Our lawyer fell out of his chair, and was getting ready to get a judge on the phone to setup an injunction and court order.

        And again, we have not blasted anyone for saying that our fees are high, or that this isn’t the choice for them. In fact, we have agreed in every single case.

        So I am sorry to shatter your censorship driven fantasy there. But you are quite incorrect.

        • Helena

          Slander is VERBAL. Slander is VERBAL. Slander is VERBAL.

  • Garcarcha Verdes

    Some years ago I was a VP with a large RTO company. Doesn’t make me an expert, but here’s what I know; the law is clear about the risk taken by a rental company, and it places that risk squarely on the shoulders of RTO company. Should someone skip with the product, and they will, the most an RTO company can hope for is a small claims court judgement. Typically people who RTO and skip (steal) the equipment have larger financial issues and could care less about that judgement. Those predictable losses have to be calculated in to the standard rental price. Conversely, there are many wonderful people who are either down on their luck or just trying to get by. Day by day. Unfortunately, these wonderful people will ultimately pay the price for those dirt bags that abscond with the equipment. This typically translates in to paying 3X the retail price. If you do everything right they may offer you a buy out and you will end up paying ONLY 2X the standard retail price. You can pay weekly, bi-weekly or momthly, however if you’re late more than 3 days they will hit you hard with late fees. An account more than 16 days delinquent is considered a probable loss. This brings on a whole new concern about their collection practices, and it can get ugly. And they will call your relatives. In the end, I left that company because it made me feel dirty.

    • Peter Kelly

      The ‘predictable losses’ are often there more for the reason that the company provides credit to those who can’t afford it and makes it even less affordable by charging such a high rate of interest.

      There are unfortunate people who find themselves between a hard place and a rock, but that is certainly not a reason to take advantage and, is such cases, load up the rock with lead weights.

      • RTO Camera

        Peter, you obviously have not a single clue about calculation of risk, or cost-benefit. First of all, we are not dealing with consumers. We are dealing with businesses. Secondly, our profit margins aren’t nearly as high as yours…are you a ripoff? What is the ROI on someone buying your product? Because every customer of ours can calculate an ROI precisely with our service.

        It is for each business owner to determine if that ROI is the best they can do. If so, they need that. Why should they be denied that choice?

        Oh wait. I see. You are from Europe. That explains it.

        • Celine (peaceetc)

          What does Peter being from Europe have to do with anything? That’s more than a little ridiculous, and certainly doesn’t help bolster your point, RTO. All it does is show prejudice. Nice way to do business.

          • RTO Camera

            We have no market for European businesses. We have had three that have inquired though and I said I could not help them.

        • Helena

          What profit margins are you referring to? Prints? Products? Sitting fees?

          Also, well done alienating all the European posters here.

          • RTO Camera

            Europe has a different market system and mentality than America. They have a different swing on capitalism than we have. From guns to capitalism, to…well…many things. I would full expect them to react that way.

          • Helena

            Europe has many countries who all have different views on guns and capitalism. It’s not one view fits all.

          • RTO Camera

            I’m waiting for you to send me that check…

          • Helena

            Lol. Why would I send you a cheque? I’m not in the money lending business. Not only that, IMHO I suspect you’d use the information to serve idiotic, frivolous lawsuits against me because I don’t agree with your morals in business.

        • Peter Kelly

          Obviously you are an idiot and an unpleasant idiot.

          You have no idea of my margins and you have no idea of what I know or do not know, yet you tell me that you lend based on trustworthiness and not ability to pay? Bonkers and nasty.

      • RTO Camera

        You are incorrect Peter. Statistically, the most common default is not because they cannot pay. It because they choose not to pay. The predictable losses are based on the fact that many people are simply not trustworthy. But we try to find the ones that are worth taking a bet on. That is where our success will come from, is picking the businesses where our service helps them grow, where they would not have had that opportunity otherwise. A business model based on people defaulting because they can’t afford it, is not sustainable.

      • Garcarcha Verdes

        Then we are in agreement.

    • RTO Camera

      …and we do none of those things. None. Period. Exactly my point. If someone skips with the equipment, that is theft. But we want people to pay of course, and we don’t mind if people pay off early, so long as we are positive on the account of course.

      • Garcarcha Verdes

        I was in the RTO business for eight years on a national level. For most of that time I fought the fight you’re fighting now. Trying to justify the legitimacy of our existence. Like you I had a logical business based answer for everything. The only thing I couldn’t get past was the human element. I knew we were taking advantage of some very nice people who most likely didn’t understand what they were getting in to; despite all of the disclaimers. In my opinion it’s a slimy business devoid of moral character.

  • Ric New

    I guess if you don’t tow the company line your messages don’t get posted.

    • Celine (peaceetc)

      Are you talking about getting a comment posted here? If you post from an unconfirmed email address, a moderator has to approve them manually. If one logged in via one of the convenient accounts listed when you go to comment, one wouldn’t have that problem.

  • Helena

    PS said to email her to try and find a better (read: cheaper) way of affording the gear. OMG what a bitch for trying to stop people using a company that takes all your sensitive information, and makes you waive your and your family’s right to privacy, while simultaneously charging an insane amount.

    No company needs the colour and make of your car unless they’re planning on taking it when you default. Seeing as they’re marketing themselves at people with poor credit, they’re likely to have a lot of people who can’t pay.

    • RTO Camera

      Helena, you business logic…well…is not logic at all. And you need to be careful in alluding to any notion that we will take someone’s car. I have stated here multiple times now for you the reason we ask for the information we do.

      Let’s make a deal. How about if you lend me $3000 right now. Would you do that? The address is on our website. Ill be looking for your check in the mail.

      • Helena

        I have stated numerous times that IMHO your reasons for requiring all that information are not good enough.

        Seeing as the comments on this post had all but dried up, the logical thing to do would be to leave the post alone, so I guess you’re not very logical either. Responding here just bolsters the comments for any prospective clients to read. Not that smart.

        By the way, I was careful not to allude that YOUR company would take anyone’s car. It was a very generalised comment, so I would be careful not to imply any threats. 🙂

        • Well they might as well take the car if they got the make and color … why else would they need that information .. wonder if they want to know about tattoos and birthmarks of their clients 🙂

          • RTO Camera

            Has it occurred to you that the make and model of the car says something about you demographically and psychologically. Many things go into assessing risk. Everything is a piece of building a picture of the business and the potential and determining if we want to take a chance on you.

            As I said Helen…why don’t you lend me $3000 dollars…right now. Go ahead. Send a check. Im good for it. I swear.

            Are you licking the envelope right now? Of course not.

            And yes, if we need to recover the equipment, knowing where to find that person is something we will need to have handy. It also helps us with our loss insurance rates. Also, having that info, encourages a defaulter to return the equipment, because they already know we can find them. It is not only key in our assessment of the business and risk, but also a preventive measure to let the customer be clear that we will recover the equipment.

          • Justin Case

            And to state the blatantly obvious, Helena never said she was in the business of lending money to ANYONE. It was you who started this whole thing by trying to do deceptive self-promotion though social media, if I have read the original post correctly.

          • Helena

            Really? So how does that work? A person driving a new Mercedes is more or less trustworthy than someone driving a beaten up Ford? I drive a 9 year old Vauxhall Vectra. How does that affect your view of my risk and financial liquidity?

        • RTO Camera

          Interestingly, these exchanges seem to be bringing in applications. We have done no other marketing in recent weeks.

          One I got on Friday and we corresponded by email with said “I saw your story posted on Photostealers. I also read all of your comments and thought they were honest and professional. Those people are just a bunch of bitter with hunters. I know the rates are high. I’m not stupid. But with what I need it for, the rates will work just fine…”

          So yeah. It seems to be working. We have had several applications come in since this whole things started. So you are all really doing me a favor. If I weren’t here, there would just be this voice telling people that we are a scam and identity thieves. At least we can respond with the truth and let people decide for themselves.

          • Justin Case

            “I weren’t here, there would just be this voice telling people that we are a scam and identity thieves.” Umm, wow. So who has stepped over the line now?

          • captain-confuzzled

            well that story is a bit hard to believe, but okay, I’ll go with it. All that anyone wanted was for people to know what they are getting in to fully – mission accomplished (IMHO)

      • Photo Stealers

        Have fun collecting that check from PO Box XXXX.

  • Michael Goolsby

    I don’t have any clue what is lawful with these outfits and what isn’t. But I don’t mind warning anyone that buying expensive consumable technology on credit is generally a poor idea, especially for the non-professional, and that the rates charged by this company are outrageous. As a quick test, I went to the site and punched in a hypothetical amount to be financed of $1800, the cost of a new 7D Mark II. I was shocked to see it calculate a monthly payment of $156 for 24 months… or $3,744.. more than TWICE the cost of the actual camera!!

    This business and consumers are certainly free to transact together however the law permits. But others are also free to WARN prospective customers that financing photographic gear in this fashion is probably the single most expensive and financially irresponsible methods available. Quite simply, if you can’t afford the gear in the first place, then you probably can’t afford these outrageous payment terms. And if you can afford the terms, you probably can afford to buy outright to begin with. And that leaves me wondering…. who in the world do outfits like this actually benefit? The world would probably be a slightly better place without such outfits as RTO Camera.

    • RTO Camera

      Michael. I have not voiced any opposition to anyone stating that this may not appear to be a wise choice for them. I haven not stated, nor would I pretend that your low rate credit card would be a better deal for you (assuming you didn’t need that revolving credit for cash flow management, which is what they should be used for)

      I am stating people making false allegations of criminal intent. We are not misrepresenting anything. After all. The payment is right there on the front page. We have a detailed FAQ which will be updated based on these interactions as well.

      You are absolutely correct. Nothing wrong with people giving their opinion. But stating that something is a scam or a fraud, or alluding to identity theft, is a whole different matter.

      • Me, Myself and I

        “nor would I pretend that your low rate credit card would be a better deal for you”

        From your website:
        “We are also a better deal in most cases than putting the equipment on a credit card.”

  • ValkyrieJen

    It’s her blog, she can post her opinions about any content that she likes.

    • Ric New

      Of course she can. Its her blog and she can choose any business she feels is charging too much and warn any potential customers. That was kind of my point. Who is next? Anyone here charging a little too much for a senior session? Or maybe one of us here has wedding packages that are too high. Slippery slope.

      • She is simply highlighting a company she finds is suspect in scamming photographers. She can careless what photographers are charging their clients.
        “My observation”

        • RTO Camera

          That is the problem. We are not a scam. A “scam” has a legal and common use definition. It is defined by dishonesty and misleading or fraudulent practices. We do none of that. Our payments are right there in the first page.

          Try dealing with FlexShopper and get a straight answer out of them on anything at all. That would be a company that you might focus your “scam” wording on. Yet, not only do I not see that, but I see Flexshopper as an advertiser on most of these blogs. We specifically designed our business to be better than those, and then to take our base of customers that do well with us, and offer them increasingly better rates and finance tools down the road.

          And I will state that anyone who uses the word “scam” and or “thieves”, can be subject to a libel suit.

          The statement above in the OP treads a very thin and careful line. Wisely so.

          We already had the article taken down because evidently their own lawyers knew it was entirely false and libelous. I almost wish they would have left it up, because the lawsuit would have easily been worth more to us, than we will make in the next year.

          Stating that you don’t think something is a good choice for you, or even for most photographers, is entirely your choice and right. And we absolutely agree with you. But making slanderous and libelous remarks and allegations of criminal activity and/or intent, is not only unfair, but also legally risky.

          • Well I made no such statements but I do perceive what you or the company is doing as “scam’ish” if there is such a word. My persception is my own others have their own thoughts like you said “its our right”. I see nothing wrong with this site or any other bringing to light to something they feel sounds fishy like the snake oil sales man in some western movies I love to watch. The concoction that cures all and heals all and does nothing but makes you drunk.

          • Justin Case

            “knew it was entirely false and libelous.” Wow. So the entire article was wrong…or was it just the ‘scam’ in the headline that caused you to go after them? I read the article, and it seemed like they had done their research and were just disgusted.

          • Helena

            Yeah, there was nothing remotely libellous in that article. Nor is there any in this posting, unless he’s planning on litigation against anyone who said something he didn’t like, and seriously, what is the litigation budget of a company that just started? Especially when he has to go after us pesky Europeans. 😉

      • Just a Girl

        She didn’t say there ARE taking advantage of people. She just said they MIGHT be. Look beyond your gut feelings about the post and see that the true message is “HEY, before you do something like this step back and think it through. If you aren’t capable of doing that contact me and we can work through it.” I don’t see it as anything other then what it is…. A PSA. Kinda like “hey if you don’t wanna get eaten by a bear ya might not want to poke it!”

        • Ric New

          So lets post this guys business name on a site dedicated to out crooks because he “MIGHT” be taking advantage of people? A site that use to use a lot of evidence to out someone. Now its just he “MIGHT” be? I will say it again, slippery slope.

          • Even if the blog is to post primarily photo thieves does not mean it cant post other articles … Reading is fundamental the wording is deliberate no slope to slip.

          • I read this part did you muss it… It explains quite a bit.

            “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).”

          • Just a Girl

            *shrug* nah…. you are still trying to compare apples to oranges. I respect where you are coming from… just don’t see what you are seeing. And BELIEVE me… its not cause I just lock step with PS. I don’t… there’s been plenty of times where I have disagreed with leaving a listing up that’s shared business names with a legitimate business that shares close proximity locale wise.

          • captain-confuzzled

            the owner of the blog gets to decide what to post. period. The owner of the PS blog doesn’t answer to any of us. When you write your own blog, you can post what you’d like to. seems fair to me.

          • ValkyrieJen

            and that was my point, thank you. There’s a big difference between ‘i think so and so charges too much’ and ‘here’s a company manipulating people all ready in a bad spot. ‘

          • RTO Camera

            We charge the lowest rates possible and be able to offer any of these people anything at all. You all seem to think that we make a killing. 22% on the dollar is a fair profit for a company. Its less than what any of you photographers make on profit margin.

            Why don’t you think you are ripping anyone off with your prices?

            We aren’t selling water in the desert here. People don’t have to be in business for themselves. This is a business decision for each business to weigh. If we aren’t a good value for our client, then we wont have a business very long. We are simply offering a much better choice for those who are already going to look to this end of financing, and for people who didn’t know there was any option available to them.

            We don’t guarantee anything in the way of their business thriving. That is up to them. But what we are doing is investing in their business and taking a huge risk.

            I don’t have any problem with people saying we are too expensive, or don’t think we are a good choice…etc. But they need to speak for themselves. Saying this is not a good choice for another business is entirely ignorant. That business can only make that decision for themselves.

            If you had the opportunity where you were confident you could quadruple your money, and could only do that if you borrowed at 100% interest, would you do it? Of course you would. You would be stupid not to. That is an exaggerated example. But if something is giving you the ability to earn more, then the sensible practice is to evaluate what your options are and the cost of each. Then of course, pick the lowest cost option that gives you the highest return in the shortest amount of time.

            Using that business practice, you can never go wrong. As I have said, we aim to offer a better and more affordable means for people who are already wasting money renting or with other alternative financing. So far as we can calculate, there is no way anyone else can offer the rates and payments we offer in this risk profile. They would not be running a business. They would be running a charity.

          • ValkyrieJen

            I guess I don’t understand what you’re getting out of replying. You’re not changing any one’s mind or opinion. You feel that you are running a legitimate and fair operation. People are free to express their contention with your terms. You’ve reiterated your point several times and people still take umbrage with it. Why not just give up and walk away and work on your business? Nothing here is going to change.

          • Ric New

            lol, its fair until its your business being mentioned on a site dedicated to out crooks because you “might” be doing something wrong. As far as its her blog and she decides what goes on it, I already addressed that earlier. I missed were anyone said she didn’t have a right to post on her blog.
            My last post on the subject, promise. Blog seems different now, for me at least. I can’t stand crooks and that is why I use to like to come here.

  • Factitious_Detector

    Sock puppetry at it’s finest.

  • Michael Goolsby

    Such despicable comments are the product of someone who clearly does not fully understand all of the dynamics involved in the home losses which occurred as part of the Great Recession. Anyone displaying such incredible ignorance should be very careful characterizing others as “morons”.

  • Michael Goolsby

    It is a supreme arrogance to label others as “morons” and suggest what they need to learn when that same individual also demonstrates such a poor understanding of the word “pleb”. (Hint: “Pleb” does not equal “moron”. But you just might yourself.)

    Maybe you quit trying to troll on behalf of the RTO Camera. Looking at your comment ratings, you don’t have much support.

  • captain-confuzzled

    Does anyone else but me think we are just about at the inimitable “blah, blah, blah fuckers” stage with this one?

    • Celine (peaceetc)

      I thought we were already there, but then RTO came back out of the woodwork to engage people again, and to toss around insults and out-of-nowhere bias against Europeans.

      • Justin Case

        who cares about Europeans? We wouldn’t pass his credit application so we aren’t potential customers, ergo our opinions are worthless.

        • Celine (peaceetc)

          I care! Europeans made Doctor Who and Sherlock, for goodness sake. 🙂

      • RTO Camera

        Europeans are not the same free market system we have in America. It is a different mindset with regard to the consumer and the venture mindset across the board. I am not saying it is better or worse. It is just different.

        And if you think a libel suit cannot be filed against someone in another country, you are incorrect. There are international treaties for such things, just like with copyrights.

        • Justin Case

          You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. ‘Europe’ is neither a single economic system or a single culture. You are right about one thing, however, some countries DO have some very strict laws regarding consumer protection.

          • RTO Camera

            You are correct. There is a range of approaches. The overall principle and mindset however, is almost the complete opposite of the USA. They are much more protectionist and restrictive than the USA in many respects. So the general reaction of someone from Europe is not going to be quite the same as someone from the USA. Not much different than when we talk about guns in this country and every European thinks we are simply nuts.

          • Justin Case

            “The overall principle and mindset however, is almost the complete opposite of the USA.”

            Again, do you realize how stupid you sound generalizing about 750 million people in 56 countries with dozens of languages and dialects as if they were all subject to some kind of group-think?

            And nice try baiting me with the gun argument. Sorry, but like your whole business model, I’m just not gonna bite.

          • Celine (peaceetc)

            I’m an American, and I think we’re nuts on the gun issue, too. As Justin said, please do not generalize about people. That is what I meant by your prejudice.

          • Helena

            Any kind of assumptions based solely on nationality are stupid and don’t account for the vast differences in cultures and opinions within those countries.

        • Celine (peaceetc)

          That’s nice. I’m sure your investors would be thrilled that you’re spending all your time threatening people on some random message board with lawsuits instead of focusing on your business. Stay classy, RTO.

          You cannot successfully sue someone for having an opinion about a business or person. It has to be knowingly untrue to even qualify as libel, which is not what is happening here. You can file the lawsuits, of course, but it would just be a bullying tactic intended to scare people into submission.

          It’s not reasonable to think you can quash all negative opinions, RTO. Sending letters and threatening or even filing lawsuits will only get you so far. If you want to run a successful business, you need to accept people will say and do what they will.

    • almost…

    • Bart

      Why do I always start laughing out loud when I read that (blah, blah, blah fuckers…) 🙂

  • RTO Camera

    You are comparing a consumer decision to a business decision. Completely different. Cash flow and ROI are the bottom line considerations in a business. Consumer’s deal in the “want” category. Business deal in the cost-benefit category. The cost of anything is only relevant to the return it brings. For the buyer, the cost to produce it, or the profit margin for the seller is irrelevant. Basic business economics.

  • Justin Case

    Not that anyone asked, but here is my take on this whole RTO nonsense. This is a company that has figured out – like many, many others – that today’s ‘photo industry’ has little to do with the creation of actual images and everything to do with money and the selling of services.

    Nothing really wrong with that, but just don’t pretend that you are ‘proving a service to professional photographers’ when what you are really doing is taking advantage of an opportunity to exploit someone else’s financial need – real or imagined.

    I also believe that like so many others making a living in the photo industry, RTOs real target is NOT hard working, long suffering professionals who are in it for the long haul but the millions of new photographers who want to believe that their hobby is really their new profession.

    In my opinion, that makes your social media marketing (backed up by your intrusive application process) deceptive. I am lucky that I don’t need your services, but like the original poster, I feel for those who might.

    • Guest

      I’d say this is a bit of justice for coming into who knows how many photog pages and forums and sock-promoting his business in the end regardless. If you set up a business, advertise legit, and let actual CONSUMERS decide if you are worth patronizing. If you fake it, someone is going to catch you, and it’s going to back-fire hard. SEO is a beeehatch.

  • Photo Stealers

    I decided to go ahead and moderate RTO. I feel he’s made his case and there’s not much more to be gained by his posts, especially due to the nature of the later ones.

    • BobCoolTX

      I’ve read the entire comment section, and I have to admit that I don’t see anything wrong here. RTO had repeated explanations of why offering a rent-to-own service is super-risky, hence the high interest rates. Yes those interest rates are super-high, yes there are lots of better options out there, and yes a person ends up paying twice as much if they bought it. But, they aren’t dealing with consumers – only businesses, which they evaluate very thoroughly, it seems. I imagine that they probably turn a fair percentage down because they see that person might be a newb wanna-be pro or their skills don’t match their potential to stay in business. He’s not running a charity, folks. If he charged the same interest as a credit card but still had the high risk with people defaulting and keeping the equpment, the company would never turn a profit.
      His service is clearly not the best option for many people, but for some people, it might be the only option to obtain equipment needed to accomplish the work. Clearly there’s a market for this demographic. So, there’s my opinion, which I’m entitled to just like everyone else. 😉 Now let’s find some more photographers that are actually breaking copyright law and help them see the light.

  • Michael Goolsby

    I’ve finally read all of the posts, and, like others, found the large number of posts by the subject at hand to be quite amazing. Again, I don’t know the legal details of this sort of thing, and I’ve never engaged in a rent-to-own with anything in my life. But, like others too, I am appalled at the lending terms and the subject’s persistence in defending such practices. In fact, as I read more and more of his posts, I was reminded of Shylock, the loan shark in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice who demanded his “pound of flesh” from a defaulting borrower. To the one pays more than TWICE what the item cost in the first place, such rates must certainly feel like a pound of flesh!

    RTO Camera posted numerous questionable rebuttals, but one in particular struck me as quite humorous, and I even read the paragraph several times almost in disbelief. In particular, he mentioned a similar business to his own, and at one time said something which I thought should qualify for the marketing slogan of the year: “[The other business] is are far, far worse than us!”

  • This seems to be the same business model as RAC (Rent-A-Center), Aaron’s, and other businesses that tend to operate in low-income neighborhoods, just with a slightly different target market. The business model is legal (thanks to lobbyists and lax regulation); its ethics are something else again, since the businesses typically prey on people who have lower levels of both income and financial literacy; it’s predatory, but it’s legal thus far.

    And let’s not kid ourselves that this business caters to professionals. It’s about “professionals,” people who figure they can just buy/rent/lease some reasonably expensive equipment and turn a quick profit. Problem is, like casinos, the house always wins; the “pros” targeted by RTO are much less likely to see a profit than their creditor will.