A new kind of enterprise has joined the long list of businesses that take advantage of the poor. Joining the cadre of payday lenders, pawn shops, unscrupulous used-car dealers is rent-a-tire places, from which consumers pay up to four times the cost of buying:

When the tires on their Dodge Caravan had worn so thin that the steel belts were showing through, Don and Florence Cherry couldn't afford to buy a new set.

So they decided to rent instead.

The Rich Square, N.C., couple last September agreed to pay Rent-N-Roll $54.60 a month for 18 months in exchange for four basic Hankook tires. Over the life of the deal, that works out to $982, almost triple what the radials would have cost at Wal-Mart.

"I know you have to pay a lot more this way," said Florence Cherry, a 57-year-old nurse who drives the 15-year-old van when her husband, a Vietnam veteran, isn't using it to get to his job as a prison guard. "But we didn't really have a choice."

Ken Bensinger of the Los Angeles Times reports: Link (Photo: Mel Melcon/LA Times)

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Something messed up about how a prison guard and a nurse can't save enough to buy tires. Makes you wonder how the real poor people survive.
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