/ Shopping

Share your ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ experiences

Millions of shoppers have fallen in love with using ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ (BNPL) schemes, but what happens if something goes wrong?

When used correctly, ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ schemes such as Klarna, Clearpay and Laybuy allow you to try before you buy and put off paying for what you keep for 30 days, or allow you to split your shopping into instalments, interest-free.

But what happens when things don’t go so smoothly?

Over the last few years, we’ve heard from people that have been caught up in ID fraud issues with BNPL firms  and endured returns nightmares lasting months. In most cases shoppers have struggled to know who to complain to and how to get their issue resolved.

We want to understand the bad experiences shoppers have had when using these schemes and are encouraging users to fill in a BNPL complaints form to share their woes.

How are BNPL complaints handled now?

Right now BNPL complaints are handled by individual companies and can’t be taken to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), like you can with other payment methods like a credit or debit card.

That’s because most BNPL schemes aren’t currently regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 

So if there is a problem with an order that you paid for using a BNPL scheme, you will need to get in touch with the retailer and/or the scheme provider to get a dispute resolved. If they don’t help, or are slow to respond, you may be left in limbo.

Why the FOS is important for payment complaints

The FOS can step in if you aren’t happy with how a payment provider has handled your issue. 

It’s an independent body that will consider both sides of a case, and decide whether the company or the customer was in the right. If the FOS rules in your favour, it can order the  firm to refund you or pay you compensation.

But the FOS offers more than an independent judgment on an issue, it also provides a vital overview of what complaints consumers are making about particular industries – data which can uncover worrying trends that need to be addressed.

For example, Which? recently found that the FOS ruled in favour of fraud victims in 73% of its cases where banks had initially refused to repay the losses. This data allowed us to expose a reimbursement lottery and provide proof that there are failings in protections for scam victims. This work along with other Which? investigations has helped convince the government that bank transfer scam victims deserve better protection.

But currently, no one is quite sure who the most-complained-about BNPL provider is or what issues they, or the wider industry as a whole, keep getting wrong.

Use our BNPL complaints form

It’s worth noting that the Treasury is consulting on regulating the BNPL market which could mean shoppers would be allowed to take their complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

But until then, there isn’t really a clear route for consumers to take action and fight back against BNPL companies with poor practices, so we’ve created a form to make sure your complaints get heard.

We want to hear from you about any issues you’ve encountered when using a BNPL scheme to pay – and if you have got that far, how they were resolved.

It could be anything from unfair late payment fees to damage to your credit score or just  issues that meant you had a less than smooth experience with your order.

We think it’s important to gather these experiences so we can show the government what dangers shoppers face in this rapidly growing sector.

Use our BNPL complaints form here

Comments

There are two I’ve used, never had a problem and more and more businesses are using them!.

Julie Arundel says:
29 November 2021

I have used both Clearpay and Klarna numerous times over the past year and haven’t experienced any problems whatsoever they are really good companies

Haven’t some businesses done this for many years, maybe just under a different name. DFS and Anglian both offered me a scheme whereby i paid an interest free loan over a fixed period, but if i wanted to pay immediately the prices was either higher (Anglian) or just the same price so no benefit in doing so.

Em says:
4 May 2022

If you buy sofas (DFS) or double glazing (Anglia), it tends to be a one-time purchase of a high ticket item. The amount to be repaid and the period over which it needs to be repaid does – or should – stick in the mind, every time you sit down or open a window.

The problem with Klarna is it is ubiquitous. A £50 pair of shoes here, a £100 coat there, some expensive cosmetics … . It all mounts up, like the numerous transactions on a credit card after a wild month of spending. But Klarna only starts to bite at end of month three of a binge, when you discover you can’t repay all your accumulated debts on time.

I notice that Klarna is to start reporting its customers to credit agencies ahead of government action against the “buy now, pay later” industry. The BNPL sector faces a crackdown from ministers and regulators over fears its products encourage people to spend more than they can afford, sending them into arrears. The move means that purchases on Klarna will now affect its UK customers’ credit scores, which could be useful for those who pay on time and in full as it will demonstrate their responsible approach to credit, but it could make life very awkward for those who do not have a good repayment record and wish to continue buying more than they can really afford. I don’t know whether Klarna and the other BNPL operators have any means at the point of purchase of withholding the facility.

In another move linked with modern shopping arrangements, the giant on-line fast-fashion retailer Boohoo has revealed that shoppers are returning clothes at a faster rate than before the pandemic and that this is having a serious impact on profitability with a 94% slump in the year to the end of February 2022. This could put a question mark over the on-line sales model because there is not much retailers can do to defend themselves against such consumer activity: there is so much more retailer competition on-line than on the high street so raising prices or restricting returns could be damaging, and if BNPL starts to wobble and curb sales, and the rising cost of living and higher inflation start to bite, we could see a lot more turbulence in the retail clothing sector. Some might say “about time too”.

Em says:
4 May 2022

About time too.

Em says:
4 May 2022

Customer credit scores are a complete farce anyway.

Whilst it may help to highlight seriously bad credit risks, my recent strategy of taking up 0% interest transfer deals, rather than take out an unsecured loan, has somewhat hammered my almost perfect credit score. Not that I care, because I have no intention of borrowing more money in the future.

What Transunion sees is high levels of credit card debt (isn’t that the fundamental characteristic of any loan?), and the pure presumption on their part that I would be stupid enough to be paying the eye-watering rates of interest charged on a standard credit card agreement.

In fact, having paid any transfer fees of 0% to 2.4%, depending on the interest free credit period of up to 2 years, there is absolutely no interest payable on the debts, provided I pay off the minimum amount every month (as little as 1% of the outstanding amount) and the balance when the interest free period expires.

Since I can invest the money and obtain better returns than any fees, it is effectively free borrowing.

I would maintain that Transunion are in breach of GDPR, as automated processing is being used to make decisions about my creditworthiness, which other companies may then rely on with no transparency or option to challenge my reported credit scores.