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TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

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TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by Till Eulenspiegel » Sun Jan 10, 2016 4:03 pm

TV rental kept a lot of us in work from the mid fifties and into the mid eighties. Many of us believed we'd be in a job for life.
I'd say the writing was on the wall in the was the 1980s. The public began to realise that TV sets were becoming more and more reliable, why rent?
Best times for TV rental was the seventies, colour TV saw to that and into the early eighties the video recorder helped us to keep things going.
Nevertheless, I noticed in my shop the times were a changing, TV rental was on the wane. Fortunately excellent sales kept things going well into the nineties, then the supermarkets with their cheap tellies started the rot.
The only decade my shop made any real money was the eighties. Amazing how I kept such a ramshackle enterprise going for so long, and I'm still in there! That's after 44 years.

Till Eulenspiegel.

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by nuvistor » Sun Jan 10, 2016 4:17 pm

We only started to rent about 1978, before that it was sales, very often cash but lots of HP. My boss just would not rent, shop taken over in 1978 and rentals started but most of the business was repeat sales, usually word of mouth or families, children getting wed and buying.
Lots of audio sales as well, nothing exotic HiFi, but Hacker, Roberts, Dynatron, I seem to remember Rogers as well, probably others.

I left the trade in 1980, to my mind, rightly or wrong, I could see sets getting more reliable from the mid 1970's and thought that the skills I had would be less in demand. Talking to the people left in the shop as the 80's went by, I think you would be correct that things started to decline towards the end of the decade.

I left and went fixing mini computers and did that for many years and enjoyed it. I always enjoyed fixing radios's/TV's etc, I wondered about the change of job but it was the best thing for me. I got the enjoyment from fixing things, computers/TV's did not matter, seeing something working again gave me pleasure.

Frank

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by malcscott » Sun Jan 10, 2016 4:24 pm

When i was made redundant from Rediffusion in April 1985 i decided to have a bash at renting a few ctv sets until a job came along. I could not believe the demand for them! Within 2 months i had over 70 sets and 25 videos out on rent. Regular trips to Archie Newalls in Bradford and Frank Fords at Blackburn supplied me with Decca 100, Rediffusion Mk3/Mk4, Philips G8/G11/Kt3. Then Mastercare gave me a job and i sold them off to a local tv dealer with rental contracts and made a tidy profit. By then i had about 100 sets on rent. The late 80,s was the beginning of the end for renting as David points out, Malc.

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by Till Eulenspiegel » Sun Jan 10, 2016 4:56 pm

What has finally finished me with TV rental is the new FCA rules. It has turned to be just a waste of time now what with all the formalities involved sending in reports.
The truth is I was needing something like that to force to get out the TV rental game. I'm free at last!

Till Eulenspiegel.

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by ntscuser » Sun Jan 10, 2016 5:48 pm

I don't know if this was typical but the local firm we used for a very long time refused to rent us a NICAM TV although they were willing to sell us one outright. They went out of business very shortly afterwards.

A corner shop up the road from us survived for some time into the new millennia renting dilapidated TV sets and videos to local itinerants. His business model seemed to be that the devices would cost more to repair than they would be worth if they were stolen.

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by nuvistor » Sun Jan 10, 2016 6:20 pm

FCA rules? That Finacial Conduct Authority? Is this to do do with the rental being classed as a loan?

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by Till Eulenspiegel » Sun Jan 10, 2016 6:32 pm

ntscuser wrote:I don't know if this was typical but the local firm we used for a very long time refused to rent us a NICAM TV although they were willing to sell us one outright. They went out of business very shortly afterwards.

With TV rental it takes a long time to even get back the initial cost of the set. Bear in mind rental payments are typically much less per week compared with HP repayments. Coupled to the to the fact small dealers never enjoyed good discounts from the set makers. In fact it came as a surprise to me to find out that the direct dealership sets weren't much cheaper than those sold by wholesalers.
I continued to buy sets from wholesalers, that's the reason why I had so many Alba and Marconi sets out on rental. Ekco became a wholesaler brand. The Pye "Lego" CT222 became the Ekco CT822.
In the early seventies Rank-Bush-Murphy as they were called then before becoming RRI offered dealers Rank Credit Facilities. It was something I had no other choice to use in order to get colour TV rental up and running in a big way. If you didn't rent colour TVs you'd loose out to the opposition.
I always kept my rental stock up to date. I was scrapping G8s in the mid eighties, can you forgive me?

Till Eulenspiegel.

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by Till Eulenspiegel » Sun Jan 10, 2016 6:36 pm

nuvistor wrote:FCA rules? That Finacial Conduct Authority? Is this to do do with the rental being classed as a loan?


I'm sorry to so say it is. Saying that, there has always been registration of firms which hire things out, but now things ain't so easy.

Till Eulenspiegel.

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by slidertogrid » Sun Jan 10, 2016 7:15 pm

I started renting sets around 1978. These were used ex rental sets that I had bought from various sources. I didn't get involved with renting Video recorders until around 1982. Most of those were new machines and I had a waiting list of customers wanting them. I could only afford to buy about 5 a week to rent without having the bank own them so I gave priority to existing TV rental customers. we were quite careful who we rented to and as a consequence had very low arrears and almost zero machines stolen by renters. By the late 1990's I had a fairly large rental base for a small shop.
The signs were there by then, a lot of people that had small sets on rent started to send them back as new ones had become so cheap.
I sold the business in late 2000 while it was still worth something!
The thing that worried me was that the customer base was getting older as young people were buying. What I didn't realise at the time was that I would probably eventually have to replace the rental sets with flat panel sets or lose them to sales and the CRT sets that would be coming back in would have little or no resale value at all. Where as previously a say five year old set coming back ex rental would help towards paying for the new set when it was sold off. That would have put a huge financial strain on the Business, one it probably wouldn't have survived.
Within a few years all the high street rental shops had gone. Can anyone remember when the big renters like Granada and Radio Rentals finally shut up shop on the high street? That I would say spelt the end for renting.
There must be Tons and tons of old sets buried on landfill.. All that Phosphor buried is a bit of a worry!
Talking of the old shop, a friend of mine has found a couple of pictures of the place which she has posted on facebook "Peterborough images" page. (I don't have facebook myself) They were taken in around 1983/4 I would say judging by the vans in the picture. That Astra went like the wind ISTR!
Rich.

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by nuvistor » Sun Jan 10, 2016 7:38 pm

General question
How did you manage the customers who would want a new set every year or was the year old set easy to rent out again? This seemed to be a big renting advert for the larger rental outfits.

Frank

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by Till Eulenspiegel » Sun Jan 10, 2016 7:54 pm

nuvistor wrote:General question
How did you manage the customers who would want a new set every year or was the year old set easy to rent out again? This seemed to be a big renting advert for the larger rental outfits.

Frank

Well that didn't happen very often, once the customer settled with a particular the set they liked they'd continue to rent it for a good long period. But yes the odd one would ask for a new set more often. Just had to honour their request.
Of course the problem was during the years of credit restrictions, the 42 weeks advance rental thing. TV sets had to be over three years old to qualify for no deposit rental.
Companies like Rediffusion and British Relay used to create special sets with new and altered cabinets from older models. These companies produced some weird and wonderful derestricted models to rent out.

Till Eulenspiegel.

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by ntscuser » Sun Jan 10, 2016 8:02 pm

Till Eulenspiegel wrote:Of course the problem was during the years of credit restrictions, the 42 weeks advance rental thing.


That's the only reason we had a 22" set and not a 26" one. My mother didn't have enough cash on her at the time to pay the 42 weeks advance rental. Silly really!

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by nuvistor » Sun Jan 10, 2016 8:04 pm

I had forgotten about the 42 weeks advance rental, similar to the deposit required for HP.

I do remember the Rank Credit facilities, it was reason the new boss in 1978 was a staunch supporter of RBM, the credit got him started and made him quite wealthy. I must also say he was not a boss to stand back, he would always muck in a get on with the job.

Frank

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by nuvistor » Sun Jan 10, 2016 8:54 pm

ntscuser wrote:
That's the only reason we had a 22" set and not a 26" one. My mother didn't have enough cash on her at the time to pay the 42 weeks advance rental. Silly really!


It was part of the credit restrictions that went on in the 40's through to the 80's. It caused a lot of problems for UK manufactures in getting production numbers correct when second guessing the chancellors yearly budget.

It is open to interpretation whether lifting credit restrictions helped or hindered the economy in later years.

Frank

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by 405 fan » Sun Jan 10, 2016 9:32 pm

Hi David
I as you know rented sets from 1986 - 2003 but only managed to reach 180 rentals which I suppose wasn't bad seeing as the writing was already on the wall .
Also regarding scraping your G8's I obtained a set from you when you upgraded a customer about 20yrs ago . I still have the set in question.
Regards.
Gary.

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by Till Eulenspiegel » Sun Jan 10, 2016 9:51 pm

Hi Gary,
You saved a G8 from my wrecking hammers. You all might remember I'm planning to build the ultimate G8 by using a special switched mode power supply. Get's rid of that horrible thyristor power supply.

Till Eulenspiegel.

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by hamid_1 » Sun Jan 10, 2016 10:17 pm

From a customer point of view, "Which?" magazine started recommending to buy rather than rent a colour TV in the mid-late '70s, saying that buying was cheaper than renting in the long term.

Nonetheless, many people kept renting, perhaps because they always had done, perhaps they liked the reassurance of free repairs and a free loan set if theirs broke down, or the flexibilty to change their set for a newer model. Perhaps they didn't have the cash to buy a new TV outright. Borrowing money wasn't so easy or cheap. You had to see your bank manager, or sign an expensive HP agreement.

When video recorders appeared, lots of them were rented. Just like the first colour TVs, they were expensive and often unreliable. There was also some doubt over which of the 3 competing formats would 'win' out of VHS, Beta and Video 2000. Customers were scared about buying something expensive that could quickly become obsolete. It made sense to rent.

By the late 1980s, the argument over which video format to choose had been well and truly settled. But there were other factors. Retailers started offering instant credit - buy now, pay later. I guess credit restrictions were eased in order to start the "borrow, spend, consume" cycle which is supposed to boost the economy.

Even the big rental companies must have seen the writing on the wall by the late 1980s. Radio Rentals for a long time refused to sell TV sets for fear of harming their profitable rental business, but by the late '80s lots of ex Radio Rentals TVs and video recorders started turning up in secondhand shops as they sold them off cheaply. It was often possible for a customer to buy an ex-rental TV with a few months guarantee for less than the deposit on a new rental. It no longer made sense for the customer to rent.

I'd agree with Till that TV rental started dying in the late 1980s if not before. Despite that, High Street TV rental shops continued into the early 2000s. Granada and Radio Rentals became boxclever, who were eventually bought by a company called BrightHouse. They offer large items like TVs and furniture on weekly payments, a bit like rental and no doubt aimed at the poor who might traditionally have rented a TV. Ironically it's a very expensive way of buying.

In the final twist to the tale, BrightHouse acquired the "Baird" brand name from the former Radio Rentals shops they took over. You can now find a range of Baird LCD TVs in their shops. No relation to Thorn of course.

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by Pye_Man » Mon Jan 11, 2016 4:40 pm

My parents decided to rent when they went to colour at the end of the 1970s. Up to that point they'd had VHF sets that were were maintained by the local repair shop but were wary about the cost and reliability of colour sets. I don't know when they stopped renting but certainly in the mid 90s they were on a bought set that operated faultlessly until the sad day the house was cleared in the late 2000s.

I'm not in the trade myself - it was suggestion to me at school back in the 70s - but inevitably through my radio hobby I knew many repairmen and and a few independents that had sets out to rent. Several of the repairmen were self-employed doing work for independent shops and the chains. All the repairmen seemed to make a decent living and those running rental businesses seemed prosperous. The first sign of any demise I remember was in the mid 1980s when one of the freelancers found his work diminishing and got a full time job maintaining PMR installations but in the main things still seemed reasonably healthy until the 1990s when one by one they were dropping away.

The one fellow who had done nicely out of his rental business and whose reputation for shrewdness preceded him got out in the mid 1990s seemingly whilst the business still had some worth. By the early 2000s the only one of the bunch left was a freelancer making a meagre living out of his garage. He'd found an income repairing CRT computer screens but this was soon to disappear. I found him some work in this line but even though the faults were easily fixable and the repairs not expensive soon they were not seen as worth it against the tumbling cost of a new (CRT) screen. There was such a mind-set of obsolescence within firms that worked with computers that as soon as anything developed a fault it was in the skip. (I subsequently rescued a few items that gave me years of service.) Then my 'last man standing' downsized and headed for an enforced early retirement. The last 'active' repair shop in my locality shut about ten years ago. There is a shop on the outskirts of a nearby town with old TVs in various states in the window. I never see a light and it looks like one of those time capsules waiting to be discovered.

It was suggested at school that I went into TV repairing and there were a couple of other unrelated opportunities that back in those days were seen as secure jobs for life that I turned down to follow a path that was considered far more uncertain. I think this disappointed my parents yet I have maintained a living - though the glory days are long gone - whereas everyone I knew in the TV trade and the other lines of work that I rebuffed have long been forced in other directions.

However, the most depressing thing I find is that amongst my peers there are some very well qualified and brainy technical types in what would be considered much better than average jobs, who one would have thought would never see a day's unemployment, yet they have also found themselves on the scrapheap.

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by Till Eulenspiegel » Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:23 pm

Nothing to do with TV rental but the related to servicing work. Does anyone remember the camcorder articles in Television magazine?
I remember Steve Beeching writing to the effect we would all be doomed unless we took up camcorder servicing. TV servicing is finished he wrote. Well, who fixes camcorders these days? Yes, there is a bit of LCD TV servicing still going on but it's just not a nice trade to be in. Was it ever?
Getting back to my own TV rental business. I contacted the FCA informing it would be all over on the 31st of December. My customers don't seem to be at all surprised, in fact one or two are amazed I've kept the enterprise going so long.
I stopped selling small screen TVs in 2001 when the selling price dropped to less than £139. Now fifteen years later a 32" TV can be bought for the same figure. With such low prices who's going to rent a TV nowadays?

Till Eulenspiegel.

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by colly0410 » Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:12 pm

A bloke at where I used to work buys things for the house e.g. washer, fridge etc by putting pound coins in a meter on his telly, best part is the telly's been paid for for years but he still carry's on with the meter. That'd drive me mad having to find pound coins for a telly I've paid for. I had a deutschmark TV meter (landlord used to snaffle the cash) when I rented a flat in Germany, but I used to bypass it..

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by nuvistor » Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:29 pm

That was the way some people saved, there was a company named Telebank, slot meter TV's and anything over the rental in the meter was the customers. Has you say many then used that to buy other items from the same company, any excess in the meter payed off the loan. Of course when that was payed for there was always something else yo buy.
I am not going to denigrate them, circumstances for them made it useful. They probably paid much more but that's how it was.

Frank

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by colly0410 » Tue Jan 12, 2016 9:22 am

Bit off topic. The TV I rented off the German landlord had a switch on the side to change the sound from 5.5Mhz to 6Mhz so I could tune into the nearby British Forces (BFBS) TV station at Munster-lager army base that used system I. Most Germans who lived within range of BFBS TV also had the switch..

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by Till Eulenspiegel » Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:48 am

I understand Telebank was owned by STC the company that also owned KB. Didn't Telebank rent TVs out under the Regentone brand?
It follows was the CVC5 ever marketed under the Regentone brand? I've never seen a colour set seen badged as such. Other brand names owned STC by were Ace, Argosy and of course RGD.

Till Eulenspiegel.

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by Michael Watterson » Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:44 pm

I think from mid 1970s it was doomed. Look at sets like Thorn TX9 series? (I personally had a moviestar 14" from about 1976 to about maybe 2004). Certainly in Norn Iron. By 1983 when I moved to "Ireland" most new TVs seemed to be sales? There was RTV in Limerick still renting, but their show room only showed sale prices.
Rising incomes, in real terms TVs very much cheaper than in earlier years.
Influx of Japanese models, with even better reputation for reliability (No idea if really deserved).

 
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Re: TV Rental: when did the rot really set in?

Post by nuvistor » Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:15 pm

I know little about Telebank only that is was in operation. Many other companies did the same though, some put meters on if there were behind with their payments and some just like the 'convenient' saving plan.

The Japanese sets that we sold from about 1974 to about 1978 were in my opinion more reliable that the UK sets, after that they lost some of the gloss but were still much better than the UK sets. After 1980 I cannot comment as I can only go off the sets I had, which were Japanese and very reliable but a population of 2 is not enough to give statistics.

Frank

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