BlueHippo Funding: The Pitch

An Expensive Way to Buy a Cheap Computer

BlueHippo Funding purports on countless TV advertisements to be the friend to those in need -- to those who otherwise could not afford a new computer or new TV. But with growing stacks of complaints on the shelves of almost every federal and state bureau, commission, department and consumer publication, along with mounting lawsuits, one has to wonder if, instead of a cerulean blue, the company's CEO and his hippo friend should be painted a greedy green.

BlueHippo, part of Edison Worldwide, is a Baltimore, Md.-based company that sells computers and TVs to consumers who have poor or no credit. Its customers are mostly individuals who have trouble managing money, do not have enough cash to pay the purchae price and don't qualify for credit from more traditional retailers.

The company's advertising has been spattered across American TVs since the BlueHippo's birth in April 2003. Since then, the ceaseless waves of complaints have flooded almost every ear that will listen.

A blogger on who calls himself NOTR, summed up BlueHippo's business practices this way:

"BlueHippo targets credit-impaired borrowers, hoping they also are math and shopping-impaired. Google it and you will find complaint after complaint about being ripped off by BlueHippo. Even the state of Illinois has filed a lawsuit against BlueHippo. Yet their advertising blitz continues unabated. It is little more than a form of extortion. Would television and radio carry an ad that said, "Not good with finances? Call us and we will rip you off some more?" Of course they wouldn't, but they do every time they broadcast an ad for BlueHippo."

The Better Business Bureau reports that as of March 2006, it had 924 complaints in the preceding three years. Maryland's Department of Justice has 328 over the past three years. Many other state Departments of Justice have also logged at least one complaint. has received at least 90.

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Dancing Hippo

In the commercials, a silly, adorable, computer-animated, blue hippo dances around the screen, doing silly things like holding a sign upside down while interacting with cute children and adults. It's easy to see why so many people trust this company which seems dedicated to helping troubled consumers enslaved by the modern credit system.

But what the advertisements don't say is that the "brand new brand name" desktop computers, laptops and plasma TVs, will cost the consumer as much as five times the value of the product.

The TV advertisements along with the company's website repeatedly make it clear that there will be no credit check and that everyone is automatically approved.

But what is only found in the fine print is that BlueHippo requires $99 down plus 13 consecutive weekly payments of $39.99 for the PC and $49.99 for the laptop before the company will even consider sending the product. After that, there are 49 more payments of $39.99/$49.99 before the product is officially purchased.

That means, before taxes, that an individual must pay $619 before their PC is even shipped and $2178 to own the computer. Or, in the case of the laptop, $749 before it is shipped and $2698 before they own it. The website and TV ads do not specify what the payment plan for the TV is and when called BlueHippo's customer service, they didn't seem to know anything about the advertisement for the TV that appears on the website.


The computers that the website advertises are anemic archaic by today's standards. In fact, could not find any PC manufacturer that even offers such a basic desktop.

The BlueHippo PC includes:
• 2.66 Gigahertz Intel processor (presumably Intel's low-end Celeron processor)
• 256 MB RAM
• 80 GB hard drive
• 17
• monitor
• CDR drive
• Windows XP (presumably the cheaper Home Edition)
• 3 year warranty
• Color printer
• And, randomly, a 20

The cheapest "brand new brand name desktop computer" that found was from Dell and is considerably faster than the BlueHippo offering but for comparison's sake, here's what $609 will get a consumer who shops at Dell:
• AMD Sempron 3400+ (way faster than any Intel 2.66 gigahertz offering)
• 512 MB RAM
• 80 GB, 7200 RPM hard drive
• 48x CD/RW and DVD ROM combo drive
• Nvidia GeForce 6150 graphics card
• Dolby 7.1 audio card
• 3 year + 90 day warranty
• 17
• monitor
• Windows XP Home Edition
• Color printer

BlueHippo also includes a 20" LCD TV, which can be purchased from for about $200.

So the total BlueHippo package bought from Dell and NewEgg costs $809 versus $2,178 -- nearly three times as much -- for the same TV and considerably slower computer from BlueHippo.

For the BlueHippo price, an individual could buy a top-of-the line high-end computer and have money left over.


The figures when comparing laptops are even more shocking. Here's what BlueHippo is offering:

• 1.6 Gigahertz Intel Celeron processor
• 40 GB hard drive
• 256 Megs of SDRAM
• CD Burner
• 15" screen
• Windows XP (presumably Home Edition)
• 1 year warranty
• Color printer

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart is offering a similar Acer laptop with slightly better specifications:

• 1.6 Gigahertz Intel Celeron processor
• 60 Gigabyte hard drive
• 512 MB of SDRAM
• CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive
• 15" screen
• Wireless Internet adaptor
• 5-in-1 card reader (for digital camera cards and other storage media)
• Windows XP Home Edition
• 1 year warranty
• Color Printer

Wal-Mart's laptop and printer total is $571 versus BlueHippo's slower laptop package which comes to $2,698 -- almost five times the cost of Wal-Mart's better offering.

In both examples it's important to keep in mind that a consumer shopping from BlueHippo must wait at least 13 weeks before their computer has arrived and that computer technology comes and goes with the seasons. In 13 weeks, the computers offered from Dell and Wal-Mart will be replaced by something newer and faster, for about the same price, if not less.

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