Catalog offers state employees big-ticket items at twice the price
Posted November 25, 2013
Updated November 26, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — State employees may be paying more than double the retail cost of big-ticket items – such as gaming consoles, tablet computers and high-definition televisions – as part of an employee-purchase program offered by the State Employees Association of North Carolina.
The program, implemented through an Atlanta company called Purchasing Power, allows the SEANC's 55,000 members to buy items and then make monthly payments through payroll deductions over a year.
Although some employees say they like the program because it allows them to purchase expensive items on a payment plan, others say they feel they are being taken advantage of by the inflated costs.
A Playstation 4, for example, retails for about $400, but through Purchasing Power, costs nearly $850. An iPad retailing for as low as $499 will cost nearly $1,000.
"Employees aren't looking at the realistic picture of how expensive things really are when you pay on a monthly basis and how much extra you're actually paying for the product itself," employee Amanda Hohl said.
SEANC spokeswoman Toni Davis said Monday that the program was started in 2008 to help members buy computers for their college-bound children and eventually expanded at members' request.
"There are folks who need a washer, who needed a dryer, who have bad credit, no credit and are looking for a way to budget them over time," Davis said.
"The reality is that no one wants anyone to be charged more than they should, but we are hosting this program at (employees') request."
The SEANC won't say how much money it makes from the Purchasing Power program, saying only that it is a nonprofit agency and that the money from the program goes back into its membership base.
Purchasing Power offers similar services to other private companies and government agencies across the country. The company couldn't be reached for comment Monday.