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  1. #1
    NHutch is offline Junior Member
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    Harassment by Rent-A-Center, employees trespassing, making threats

    What is the name of your state? Massachusetts

    Hey guys,

    About 5 months ago I decided to get myself a nice HDTV from Rent-A-Center. I got it for my condo, which I bought about a year ago. I missed my last payment (last saturday) due to spending the weekend in the hospital recovering from a car accident (got hit by a drunk driver, seatbelt saved my life.) I wasn't able to pick up my check from work so I told my account manager at RAC that I wouldn't be able to make payment until saturday by 7pm at the latest (which was last night.) On thursday at around 745pm I hear someone pounding on my door. This is odd to me because both the entrances to the building have automatic locks on them and I don't really know anyone who lives in the building. I knew since no one rang the buzzer it must be the RAC thugs, who have pulled this before (and the time before was their own mistake.) The kid (he's maybe 19 at the oldest) was screaming for me to open the door, yelling obsenities towards me and demanding 'his' TV back. I warned them after the last time they did this that they were not allowed in the building without my permission and are actually trepassing. After about 15 minutes of this I finally answer them and asked them to leave. They told me that they aren't leaving until they get their TV. I told them that they are not coming in my house and that I was calling the police. They lied and told me the police were on their way already to arrest me for 'stealing.' Yea buddy, I'm a little smarter than that. The only person acting unlawful was them. They started to get extremely hostile with me (I still hadn't opened the door) and threatened to break down my door. I started hearing them kicking at the door (skinny little punks can't even do that correctly!) I went into the bedroom to check on my girlfriend and saw her beginning to have a panic attack. This is when I put my foot down and decided that I needed to diffuse this situation and get these punks off my property. I grabbed a knife, held it properly as one would when walking across a room (with the tip facing towards me held against my forearm) and threatened them with unreasonable force in attempt to diffuse the situation (getting them off my property.) When that didn't work I opened the door and repeated myself. They started screaming to put the knife down and I told them that I would when they left the premesis. I shut the door again and they continued to bang on the door and yell. Apparently they called the cops right after i opened the door and told them that i pulled a knife on them. I, not knowing that they had already called the police, called them myself and told them the situation. After about 5 minutes the RAC thugs stopped and went to the front door, appartently to meet the officers.

    Anyways, the cop talks to me and blah blah not really important details but he gives me the option of either giving them the TV back or if I want to keep the TV then the RAC punks will file 'criminal' assault charges against me. I told him to file charges against me, believing that I was well within the law to threaten unreasonable force in an attempt to diffuse the situation. Well he ignored that and told me that I'll be getting a letter in the mail concerning the 'criminal' assault charges and proceeded to leave.

    Yesterday I got a call from the assistant manager at RAC, who threatened to have his guys come here and harass me every night until I give the TV back. He will no longer accept my payment, which I offered him at the beginning of the phone call, which is breaching the contract I have with them. I refuse to give them the TV back unless they have a court order.

    My question is, was I within the law in my actions? I do have the right to defend myself and my property and I strongly believe I did that in the best way possible without jeopardizing anyones safety. Also, what can I do to prevent future attempts to harass me aside from giving the TV back? I have paid most of the TV off and by them refusing to accept payment I feel that it is now legally mine.

    Any help would be appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Hutch
  2. #2
    TiredOfAbuse is offline Member
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    was I within the law in my actions? I do have the right to defend myself and my property and I strongly believe I did that in the best way possible without jeopardizing anyones safety.
    In my opinion, no you were not within the law. Yes you do have the right to defend yourself and property, but there are limits. Unless your life is in mortal danger, in most states you can not use lethal force nor the threat of lethal force (knife, gun, you being bigger then the other guy, trained for combat...et al.).

    How did you diffuse the situation by approaching someone that had not broken into your home with a knife? Your responsibility is your apartment/condo/what-have-you. Yes they were trespassing in a secured building - you do not own the building.

    Keeping the door closed and calling the police immediately would have been the right thing to do.

    It may hurt but look at it from the other side. You work for a company and go to someones residence to collect on property. That person pulls a gun or a knife on you. You are there just to collect, and wow they threaten you with bodily harm because they are doing what, pounding on your door? How would you feel?

    ~
    On a side note: I had a friend with a very similar situation. His kid was picked on at a local park - robbed, tossed around a little. He came back looking for the kids to warn them against doing it again. The kids were kids and cursed at him...you name it. My friend pulled a knife.

    What he didn't know is there were a few kids in the bushes with a cell phone/camera that filmed the incident. He went to court and got 30 days in jail and probation after that.
    ~

    Moral of the story - You do NOT defuse a situation with threat of lethal force unless you are backed into a corner and have no recourse but to fight back. You were not in that situation. You were behind a locked door and secured living quarters.

    Sorry if I was being being too moral about this, someone could have gotten physically hurt.

    Also, what can I do to prevent future attempts to harass me aside from giving the TV back? I have paid most of the TV off and by them refusing to accept payment I feel that it is now legally mine.
    In your shoes, I would get down on my hands and knees and beg forgiveness. Not only for the TV set, but for the criminal charges as well. Talk to the RAC again and see if you can complete the contract, OR give the TV back. I do not think they will go back to a regular payment schedule with you after this.

    If you have not completed the terms of your contract, you do not own the TV set. I would read the terms if I were you because I have a strong feeling that it may well be within their rights to get the TV back and refuse payment.

    Good luck with your situation and I am interested to see how others post about this.

    TiredOfAbuse
    Last edited by TiredOfAbuse; 01-06-2008 at 05:57 AM.
  3. #3
    JETX is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by NHutch View Post
    was I within the law in my actions?
    Wow... you sure know how to escalate a minor civil problem into a probable FELONY criminal one, huh??
    Simple answer... NO, you were NOT 'within the law'.

    I do have the right to defend myself
    You have the right to defend yourself against the THREAT of bodily harm. There was no such threat in your post.

    and my property
    The problem here is... the TV is NOT your property. Read the agreement you signed. It will clearly state that the property is THEIRS and that upon your breach, you give them the right to come to your home and recover THEIR property.

    and I strongly believe I did that in the best way possible without jeopardizing anyones safety.
    Gee... you don't think that coming to the door with a knife and confronting someone who is of no imminent danger is 'safe' do you??

    Also, what can I do to prevent future attempts to harass me aside from giving the TV back?
    I don't think you will have to worry about that. Very likely that RAC will file criminal theft charges against you pretty soon.
    And based on your lack of a valid defense, I really don't think you will be watching that HDTV big screen for a while. I have had several clients get into squabbles with RAC and yep, RAC usually wastes no time filing criminal.

    I have paid most of the TV off and by them refusing to accept payment I feel that it is now legally mine.
    There is just another of your many mistakes... thinking!!
    You have NO legal claim to their television. The money you have paid so far is simply RENT. Do you think that you have the right to keep a rental or lease car simply because you have paid "most of" it off?? Of course not.
    The best advice you can get is to contact the store manager, apologize for your stupid behaviour and see if they will allow you to purchase the television. If not, then allow them to recover their property. If you don't, you will spend tens, if not hundreds, of times more in legal fees and possible jail time.

    Oh, and stop being so stupid.
  4. #4
    annajosie is offline Member
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    Holy Guacamole!!!!

    why didn't you just "meet them at the door with a loaded 44"!!!!

    No, you don't answer the door with a knife in your hand unless it's a serial killer on the other side. and NO, you don't own the TV.

    I can't add any advice that hasn't already been given, except you might try getting the hell out of town.

    the only TV you're gonna be watching will be in the day room at the local jail....
  5. #5
    NHutch is offline Junior Member
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    Ok I went down to my local PD and talked to the Sarge. Apparently he's a good friend of my Dad and used to go to school with him. I told him my side of the story thoroughly and he decided to drop the charges and told me that I was within my rights. He repeated what I had thought, "Force used must be proportionate. You can Threaten more force than you entitled to use so long as your intention is just to create apprehension to diffuse the situation."

    They were trepassing on my property by the way. Our condo rules that we voted on states that only occupents of the building units have access to the corridors. It is considered the common area of the property owners and occupants (renters.) The hallways are the property of the unit owners. Only the property owners and maintenance are allowed to use them and they are closed to the public. After asking them to leave and giving them the time to leave immediately, I can then resort to physically removing them. The sarge told me it's a better idea to give the police a call to do that for me.
  6. #6
    NHutch is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by JETX View Post
    Wow... you sure know how to escalate a minor civil problem into a probable FELONY criminal one, huh??
    Simple answer... NO, you were NOT 'within the law'.


    You have the right to defend yourself against the THREAT of bodily harm. There was no such threat in your post.


    The problem here is... the TV is NOT your property. Read the agreement you signed. It will clearly state that the property is THEIRS and that upon your breach, you give them the right to come to your home and recover THEIR property.


    Gee... you don't think that coming to the door with a knife and confronting someone who is of no imminent danger is 'safe' do you??


    I don't think you will have to worry about that. Very likely that RAC will file criminal theft charges against you pretty soon.
    And based on your lack of a valid defense, I really don't think you will be watching that HDTV big screen for a while. I have had several clients get into squabbles with RAC and yep, RAC usually wastes no time filing criminal.


    There is just another of your many mistakes... thinking!!
    You have NO legal claim to their television. The money you have paid so far is simply RENT. Do you think that you have the right to keep a rental or lease car simply because you have paid "most of" it off?? Of course not.
    The best advice you can get is to contact the store manager, apologize for your stupid behaviour and see if they will allow you to purchase the television. If not, then allow them to recover their property. If you don't, you will spend tens, if not hundreds, of times more in legal fees and possible jail time.

    Oh, and stop being so stupid.
    I not only have the right to defend myself from bodily harm, (they threatened to break down the door and go through me to get the tv which is threatening physical harm to me) I have the right to defend my property. Regardless if I own the TV or not they have no right to enter my premisis and they have no right to interupt my peace. I also do not have to retreat in my own home, which gives me the right to physically stop them from entering my home. If they try to physically move me, I have every right to strike them and I have every right to THREATEN to use deadly force.

    I have the right to live in my condo without being disturbed. Banging on my door is the same as someone playing music extremely loudly inside the building. It's called disturbing the peace. RAC becomes debt collectors when they want to retrieve their property. Debt collectors are not allowed to harass you in any way, they aren't even allowed to call you multiple times to the amount that a normal person would percieve as harassment. Going to their house and banging on the door for a half hour is against the law.
    Last edited by NHutch; 01-06-2008 at 10:20 PM.
  7. #7
    CourtClerk is offline Senior Member
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    Just wondering... how does the police department have the authority to drop the charges if the police department isn't the prosecuting agency? Normally, the police department doesn't have the authority to press or drop charges on anyone. That is the function of the prosecuting attorney's office.

    Our condo rules that we voted on states that only occupents of the building units have access to the corridors.
    Also, I would be very careful to listen to the advise of the "sarge," or the homeowners association, because under his theory, no one could even enter your property to effect service upon you, and I guarantee you that somewhere in your civil code or code of civil procedure, that is addressed, so no, not everyone that comes upon your property to find you is trespassing. Oh.. then that means that if they came to investigate YOU they'd be trespassing also because you didn't invite them upon your property. Same with the UPS man, the post man, a flower delivery guy you didn't know was coming, etc.

    Oh.. and did he advise you to return Rent A Center's property or did he tell you it was ok to keep that?
  8. #8
    CourtClerk is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by NHutch View Post
    I not only have the right to defend myself from bodily harm, (they threatened to break down the door and go through me to get the tv which is threatening physical harm to me) I have the right to defend my property. Regardless if I own the TV or not they have no right to enter my premisis and they have no right to interupt my peace. I have the right to live in my condo without being disturbed. Banging on my door is the same as someone playing music extremely loudly inside the building. It's called disturbing the peace. RAC becomes debt collectors when they want to retrieve their property. Debt collectors are not allowed to harass you in any way, they aren't even allowed to call you multiple times to the amount that a normal person would percieve as harassment. Going to their house and harassing them is against the law.
    You may want to read the FDCP and come back and post the applicable statues to back up what you say here...

    You have the right to effectively steal their property. Nice... no wonder you needed Rent A Center as opposed to doing what the rest of us do. Either pay cash, or get credit with a great interest rate.
  9. #9
    TigerD is offline Senior Member
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    Two small points: it is the FDCPA and it doesn't apply.

    Second, the OP is seriously looking at doing time. That big screen TV may well cross into the felony theft category.

    DC

    And a 3rd final point, you (OP) got seriously lucky they didn't defend themselves from your threats with a deadly weapon and kill you. Big boys rules son - you play with weapons and people die. (as an aside it is generally accepted that a knife is deadly from more than 12 feet - we used 21 feet back when I trained on a regular basis -- so, you see, they had a legal right to kill you. Please refrain from such stupidity in the future.)
    Last edited by TigerD; 01-06-2008 at 10:38 PM.
  10. #10
    NHutch is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by JETX View Post
    Wow... you sure know how to escalate a minor civil problem into a probable FELONY criminal one, huh??
    Simple answer... NO, you were NOT 'within the law'.


    You have the right to defend yourself against the THREAT of bodily harm. There was no such threat in your post.


    The problem here is... the TV is NOT your property. Read the agreement you signed. It will clearly state that the property is THEIRS and that upon your breach, you give them the right to come to your home and recover THEIR property.


    Gee... you don't think that coming to the door with a knife and confronting someone who is of no imminent danger is 'safe' do you??


    I don't think you will have to worry about that. Very likely that RAC will file criminal theft charges against you pretty soon.
    And based on your lack of a valid defense, I really don't think you will be watching that HDTV big screen for a while. I have had several clients get into squabbles with RAC and yep, RAC usually wastes no time filing criminal.


    There is just another of your many mistakes... thinking!!
    You have NO legal claim to their television. The money you have paid so far is simply RENT. Do you think that you have the right to keep a rental or lease car simply because you have paid "most of" it off?? Of course not.
    The best advice you can get is to contact the store manager, apologize for your stupid behaviour and see if they will allow you to purchase the television. If not, then allow them to recover their property. If you don't, you will spend tens, if not hundreds, of times more in legal fees and possible jail time.

    Oh, and stop being so stupid.
    Quote Originally Posted by debtcollector` View Post
    Two small points: it is the FDCPA and it doesn't apply.

    Second, the OP is seriously looking at doing time. That big screen TV may well cross into the felony theft category.

    DC

    And a 3rd final point, you (OP) got seriously lucky they didn't defend themselves from your threats with a deadly weapon and kill you. Big boys rules son - you play with weapons and people die. (as an aside it is generally accepted that a knife is deadly from more than 12 feet - we used 21 feet back when I trained on a regular basis -- so, you see, they had a legal right to kill you. Please refrain from such stupidity in the future.)
    Yea, I live in Massachusetts, nearly no one can get guns here legally. Rent-A-Center employees cannot carry weapons. Plus the two employees that came aren't even 21, so they cannot legally obtain a firearm. I turned 21 recently and got my FID right away. They were away from the door when I opened it on the stairs and I did not use the knife in a threatening manner (had it pointed away from them and never left my exclusive area property.) They did not have a legal right to kill me as they had the ability to retreat. They didn't even have the right to lay a finger on me because I allowed them to retreat. The law states that if you have the ability to retreat in a self-defense situation then you must do so.

    You are a debt collector and the scum of the earth. Why don't you try getting a real job instead of harassing people who likely suffer from mental illness which is the reason they are in debt in the first place (specifically bi-polars.) I'm only 21 and I make a real living working a professional job (network/system administrator and also work Tech support from home) helping others instead of hurting them. How dare you criticize me.

    The money I have paid has been for 50% more than the price of the TV, meaning I've paid $2250. The price of the TV is $1500. They cannot do anything in court on the 'theft' part as their charging illegal interest rates as defined in the MGL (Massachusetts General Laws.) We have an interest rate cap in MA, which is why we have no 'payday' lendors. I've also offered to pay off what I owe and they are refusing to accept payment in an attempt to rip me off. The money I have paid on the TV has not been 'rent' is has been 'rent' and TV. Half of the payment goes towards the TV and half is 'rent' which is just another word for interest.
  11. #11
    NHutch is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by CourtClerk View Post
    You may want to read the FDCP and come back and post the applicable statues to back up what you say here...

    You have the right to effectively steal their property. Nice... no wonder you needed Rent A Center as opposed to doing what the rest of us do. Either pay cash, or get credit with a great interest rate.
    I got the TV just as I started my job. I had finished my certificate programs (was able to clep nearly every course) and got a great paying job and decided to reward myself with a nice HDTV. I didn't have $1500 to spend on an HDTV at the time so I decided to give RAC a try.
  12. #12
    TiredOfAbuse is offline Member
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    I have the right to live in my condo without being disturbed. Banging on my door is the same as someone playing music extremely loudly inside the building. It's called disturbing the peace.
    Please correct me if I am wrong...

    If your neighbor turns the music up, say one floor above you - you can go to their door, WITH a knife, and demand on threat of bodily harm to turn it down?

    I am having a hard time swollowing that. How did I come to that conclusion? Read your postings and do the math.

    Our condo rules that we voted on states that only occupents of the building units have access to the corridors. It is considered the common area of the property owners and occupants (renters.) The hallways are the property of the unit owners. Only the property owners and maintenance are allowed to use them and they are closed to the public.
    State Civil and Criminal law trumps Condo rules and regulations. The only way you can get out of charges it seems is by knowing someone. Do you know a judge too?

    (they threatened to break down the door and go through me to get the tv which is threatening physical harm to me)
    They were away from the door when I opened it on the stairs and I did not use the knife in a threatening manner (had it pointed away from them and never left my exclusive area property.)
    If taken in front of a judge, this turns into a "he said, she said" matter. The funny part is that they called the police first, and you did too after the fact and confirmed you threated with a knife. I am completely shocked you got away with this.

    You did not difuse the situation. You esculated it by opening the door to confront them. Your door was the tool to keep both parties from bodily injury, and your "buddy" in the police department was right - you should have called the cops first.

    I know no one will convince you otherwise, but you wanted our opinion. You wanted a pat on the back with a kind word saying you had done the right thing - your "buddy" gave that to you.

    Why bite our heads off and convince us of your position when you came to us for advice first? None of us regulars here ever agree this much, which speaks volumes about how wrong you possibly are.

    I'll change my advice as I had originally posted it - go find a judge "buddy" and hope RAC doesn't esculate this. In their shoes, I'd call the local District Attorney and file charges there.

    TiredOfAbuse
  13. #13
    Blue Meanie is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by NHutch View Post
    Ok I went down to my local PD and talked to the Sarge. Apparently he's a good friend of my Dad and used to go to school with him. I told him my side of the story thoroughly and he decided to drop the charges and told me that I was within my rights. He repeated what I had thought, "Force used must be proportionate. You can Threaten more force than you entitled to use so long as your intention is just to create apprehension to diffuse the situation."

    They were trepassing on my property by the way. Our condo rules that we voted on states that only occupents of the building units have access to the corridors. It is considered the common area of the property owners and occupants (renters.) The hallways are the property of the unit owners. Only the property owners and maintenance are allowed to use them and they are closed to the public. After asking them to leave and giving them the time to leave immediately, I can then resort to physically removing them. The sarge told me it's a better idea to give the police a call to do that for me.

    Please tell me...what town/city is this police dept in? Because I would LOVE to know where in Massachusetts a police Sgt. has the ability/authority to "drop" charges.
  14. #14
    NHutch is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by baystategirl View Post
    Please tell me...what town/city is this police dept in? Because I would LOVE to know where in Massachusetts a police Sgt. has the ability/authority to "drop" charges.
    In every city and town... It was a 'criminal' matter instead of a civil matter. The Police department is the one who presses charges against the person in a 'criminal' matter. They are the ones who decide whether or not they have grounds to press charges.

    I don't deny that I could have handled the situation in a better way, but what was done was done and fortunately no one got hurt. I've never pulled a weapon on anyone before, I've always been able to handle conflicts with either words or if it was inevitable, with my hands. My justification for needing a weapon was the fact that they were threatening physical violence and serious harm could be done if I was hit in the stomach, as I'm still recovering from the car accident. I lasserated my spleen in the car accident which is why I had to spend the weekend in the hospital because even moving the wrong way could've reopened the wound. It still isn't fully healed.
  15. #15
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    well, not that I want to defend some schlub that seems to think that rental=ownership prior to completion of the contract but:

    Chapter 278: Section 8A. Killing or injuring a person unlawfully in a dwelling; defense


    Section 8A. In the prosecution of a person who is an occupant of a dwelling charged with killing or injuring one who was unlawfully in said dwelling, it shall be a defense that the occupant was in his dwelling at the time of the offense and that he acted in the reasonable belief that the person unlawfully in said dwelling was about to inflict great bodily injury or death upon said occupant or upon another person lawfully in said dwelling, and that said occupant used reasonable means to defend himself or such other person lawfully in said dwelling. There shall be no duty on said occupant to retreat from such person unlawfully in said dwelling.
    the fact OP did not leave his dwelling and the fact that having some yahoo trying to kick in your door brings this castle doctrine law into effect, I believe.

    Somebody trying to kick in a door can reasonably be seen as a threat of violence against the person as physical abuse is being used to gain access to the person and along with any verbal threats, could easily be considered to instill the belief OP was subject to physical harm.

    It places no requirement to avoid the confrontation so, as long as the RAC gang was the agressor and the OP did not leave the confines of the actual residence, OP had a pretty clear shot at defending himself with no legal repercussions.

    what could have happened if they did come in the house, which in itself is obviously illegal regardless of what the contract may have stated, and OP reasonably believed there was imminent fear of great bodily injury, he could have legally killed them. So, enough of the you cannot defend yourself. OP did not chase the kids down and threaten them. He merely stood his ground.

    Now, OP needs to look deep into his contract as to where the TV would become his and no longer the property of RAC (which I am sure JETX is spot on here) and realize that OP most likey does not own the TV and most likely once a payment is missed, unless there is a right to sure, OP is not guilty of theft or conversion so he would be best served by licking boots and making nice with RAC and asking them what they want to do about the contract and simply bening over and taking whatever they want (as long as the contract allows such)

    btw: I do believe you should have simply left the door closed and called the police. If it were me and as long as I had my desert eagle at my side waiting on the other side of the door I would not have worried about the kids coming in.

    I can assure you that when they walked in the door and looked at a 50 cal pistols business end, they would tend to calm down quite a bit.

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