New from NPR! 這年頭什麼都能租! Find out more about tire rentals.
Why More People Are Renting Tires
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
Now here are some things you typically hear of people renting: apartments, tuxedos燕尾服, movies. But how about tires for your car? Turns out that is becoming more common.
NPR's Zoe Chace from our Planet Money Team explains why.
ZOE CHACE, BYLINE: Renting to own tires is not a brand new thing. It's just for years it's been way more about fancy rims酷炫的輪胎圈, like the ones on the cars in music videos.
JULIE MARTIN: There's a rim down there that I like, the one that looks like a star kind of.
CHACE: Julie Martin is a school bus driver here in Florida and she's just pulled her Cadillac 300 into the Rent N Roll, a tire shop and rental place on Route 200 in Ocala. She tells Damon Lucas, the sales manager業務經理 here, she wants something fancy.
DAMON LUCAS: It's a good looking car, so it's not going to take much to, you know, make it look that much better.
CHACE: Now this has been the typical customer典型的顧客 in a rental tire place - fancy rims, higher prices. But more and more often, these days, you'll have the Shannon Kellys of the world這個世界(就是租賃的輪胎店分成兩種客群，一種人是來租酷炫且高價的輪胎鋼圈的，但是另外一種人，如Shannon Kellys則是真的買不起論胎的人，有越來越多這種人會光顧輪胎出租店), pulling into the Rent N Roll, looking for just a basic set of tires.
SHANNON KELLY: Oh, I checked every place in town and they were outrageous本來有無恥的意思，這邊是讓人吃驚的，嚇到下巴都掉下來的那種.
CHACE: Kelly's driving a truck. She's on disability, she's got six kids and her back two tires are shot爆胎了/壞了. And these days, especially, that costs a lot.
KELLY: It would be anywhere between four to 500 to pay, outright當場要付那麼多錢, for that, and I just don't have that right now.
CHACE: What she has, is 40 bucks - two 20s. And when you're renting tires, that'll do it.
LUCAS: Thirty-three dollars and ninety-two cents.
KELLY: And that's just the first payment. Since I go weekly, when I come back, next week I only have to pay 18.
CHACE: The way it works, she comes back every week and pays a little bit more. Eighteen months later, your tires are paid off付清. Yes - 18 months.
Many people pay it off faster, but if you take the whole time, you're paying double the cost of the tires by the end. That's like 140 percent interest rate. You'd get a much better rate just buying the tires outright with a credit card.
KELLY: I do not have credit to get a credit card. I would be dangerous with a credit card, so I do not want a credit card.
CHACE: This is probably one of the reasons behind the rise升高 in tire rentals. Since the financial crisis經濟危機, banks have tightened up放款借錢給人的標準變嚴格了; it's harder to get a credit card. Wages are flat薪水都沒漲. Unemployment is high. Lots of people just don't have $400 or $500 lying around閒置或是可以動用的(現金).
Another reason people are renting tires instead of buying them; they just cost more than they used to. The price of rubber橡膠's gone up and there's that international trade war國際貿易大戰.
STEVE SUTTON: And then - what, about four or five years ago, they put a tariff關稅 on the Chinese tire.
CHACE: Steve Sutton is the boss of this Rent N Roll.
Here's what happened. In 2009, labor union工會 claimed that American tire companies couldn't compete with the Chinese - that China was unfairly subsidizing補助/補貼 their tire industry. The Obama administration歐巴馬內閣 agreed and slapped課徵 a 35 percent tax on imports of Chinese passenger tires. That was one out of every seven passenger tires小客車輪胎 in the U.S.
SUTTON: What happened is it pushes the tire prices up把價格炒高了 for all tires. And we noticed it. You know, tire prices went up almost overnight.
CHACE: Industry experts say the price of imported passenger tires jumped roughly 40 percent over the time the tariff was in place. The tariff came off in October. Chinese tires are back. But even if the prices start to come back down at this point, the tire rental business isn't going anywhere不會消失(或關門大吉). In this economy, there's always going to be people who can't afford to pay up front無法拿出現金一次付清.
Rent N Roll is planning more shops.
LYN WARREN: They making some good money because nobody else does this, so...
CHACE: Back in the Rent N Roll parking lot, Lyn Warren, a manager at McDonalds, just signed up to rent brand new tires for his 10-year-old Honda.
WARREN: I understand that I'll probably end up paying a lot after I'm done paying for them. But right now, I need the tires, so I'd rather be safe than sorry.
CHACE: Zoe Chace, NPR News.
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