Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved final orders settling charges that rent-to-own operators Aaron’s Inc., Buddy’s Newco, LLC, and Rent-A-Center, Inc. negotiated and executed reciprocal purchase agreements in violation of federal antitrust law.
According to the complaints, which were first announced in February 2020, from June 2015 to May 2018, Aaron’s, Buddy’s, and Rent-A-Center each entered into anticompetitive reciprocal agreements with each other and other competitors. These agreements likely led to store closures that may not have occurred otherwise, resulting in reduced competition for quality and service in the remaining stores. The closures also may have increased travel time and costs to customers, according to the complaints.
The final orders prohibit the three RTO companies and their franchisees from entering into any reciprocal purchase agreement or inviting others to do so, and from enforcing the non-compete clauses still in effect from the past reciprocal purchase agreements, among other requirements.
The Commission vote to approve the final orders was 3-2. Commissioners Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter voted no.