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Catalog offers state employees big-ticket items at twice the price

Posted November 25, 2013
Updated November 26, 2013

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— 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.

Purchasing Power Some state employees may be paying double for big-ticket items

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.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • foodstamptrader Nov 27, 2013

    Black Friday should be a big day at the SEANC store! Make sure to load up on all those "bargains" they have for you state sheep. Enjoy your "union" benefits....

  • Rolling Along Nov 27, 2013

    I owe my soul to the company store...

    WRAL the least you could do is give some examples of what the interest rate is.

    Money management 101... SAVE for what you want and pay cash.

  • junk999 Nov 26, 2013

    "America's not a country. It's a business." - Killing Them Softly

  • barbstillkickin Nov 26, 2013

    This is so funny I can not stop laughing. They think they will do us a favor and let us buy items and just have them deducted from the pay check that barely pays the bills as it is. Wow way to have your employees back. Husband looked at a la top for me and he can get it at best buys for 400 dollars or buy it through the state for 14oo dollars. Geez what will he do. They are never trying to help any of their employees and worse part is they make up 35% of the state employees. Wonder what would happen if EVERY SINGLE STATE EMPLOYEE WALKED FF THEIR JOB FOR ONE DAY. I will tell you what would happen, this state would fall apart but they think everyone is replaceable. LOL LOL That is a bigger joke then buying items from the state. I know what they do and no o ne can just walk in and do anyone of their jobs. Not even the people who sweep the floors because state expects a whole nother level.

  • carpe Nov 26, 2013

    Tres1p how you can equate buying an XBox on credit to buying a house to a credit card defies imagaination. First, if you are employed and using a credit card and not paying it off every month, you are not budgeting.

    Second, all of us who buy a house on credit (yes me too) end up paying more than the purchase price because of interest, and very, very few could buy a house with cash.

    If you bought an X Box on credit opposed to saving for it for a year, then I submit you made what I believe to be a poor financial choice. I am sure your existence would not cease with out the X Box.

  • 426X3 Nov 26, 2013

    Sounds like the old company store rip off.

  • carpe Nov 26, 2013

    Tres1 my comment was in context with the story, not with the general public. If people are paying double because it is the only way they can buy it, then I believe they should not be buying it, unless of course it is the only way they can get the basic necessisities.

  • tceawvzwvpev Nov 26, 2013

    SEANC is a union in name only, really. Collective bargaining by public employees is still banned in NC. We're one of the few states that forbid it. That said, this Purchasing Power company is no better than payday loans. Their website shows that a bunch of companies offer this for their employees. The front page has a bunch of high priced electronics on the front page and says "Unwrap the perfect Holiday." How about people stop feeling the need to buy expensive Christmas presents on credit? The biggest irony is that there is a section on their site about financial wellbeing.

  • gingerlynn Nov 26, 2013

    Sounds like usury to me. I think the mob is good at it too.

    Usury - is the practice of making unethical or immoral monetary loans. Depending on the local laws or social mores, a loan may be considered usurious because of excessive or abusive interest rates.

  • Paidforalittlewhile Nov 26, 2013

    JAT, "...that's their stupidity..." Oh, I see, you've never bought anything on time pay, huh. I'm thinking, interest. Smarty.

    Oh, well, no one gets too much in this world without paying a little extra, somewhere, somehow. Think about it.