Retailer BrightHouse has collapsed into administration.
It provides loans to allow shoppers to buy electrical items and customers are still expected to continue with their payments despite the administration.
Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke-on-Trent will not be sad to see BrightHouse disappear from the high street.
But officials accept that the company provided a vital service for many cash-strapped people.
CAB chief executive Simon Harris said: “On one hand this particular business model was quite damaging to a lot of vulnerable people in that it kind of relied on people not being able to make the payments in order to make money and the way it charged interest meant that people were often paying way more than they needed to for certain goods.
“Generally it was people who couldn’t afford to buy the goods who needed credit. The market was people who were the least creditworthy and therefore deemed to be the most risky.
“It was preying on a vulnerable market and, as many people saw it, overcharging them. The problem now is where those people who are still likely to need such items go now. There isn’t an alternative unless you go online.
“While BrightHouse may not have been a brilliant deal, for many people it was the best or only deal available and now it is gone they will struggle.
“For a lot of people it was the only feasible way of buying household items. It wouldn’t have been something we recommended and there were certain practices it had, particularly around selling product insurance and extending warranties, that we had serious concerns about.
“If people need to borrow money to buy essential household items like goods and furniture then they need to check out the alternatives, such as companies like Moneyline which is an ethical lender which specialises in lending to people in those situations.
“We won’t mourn BrightHouse as a company. But it does leave a big gap which needs filling for many vulnerable people.”
Stoke-on-Trent City Centre business improvement district manager Richard Buxton said: “It is incredibly sad to see BrightHouse go into administration. These are clearly very challenging times for the high street.”
Longton Chamber of Commerce leader Richard Cresswell added: “I don’t know where people will go now.”
BrightHouse will not be conducting any new rent-to-own sales following the administration.
Administrator Grant Thornton said: “We will continue to trade the businesses.”
BrightHouse outlets are currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It also has a branch in Crewe.