Sharon McDougall - 17th November 2023 - 2 minutes to read
While ‘buy now, pay later’ services like Klarna can feel like a shopper’s best friend, they can also be a fast track to debt. By allowing you to part with money you may not necessarily have now, you can create cash flow problems for yourself when those payments are due later on.
By charging retailers for its services rather than shoppers, Klarna proudly boasts of providing an interest- and fee-free service to consumers. UK shoppers can choose to ‘pay in 30 days’ after the purchase date or split the cost into three monthly interest-free instalments. Klarna also offers a ‘financing’ product, which allows customers to spread their payment over longer periods of up to 36 months, usually with interest added.
But what happens if you cannot make the payments when they become due, and what should you do if you find yourself in debt to Klarna?
Estimates suggest that as many as one in 10 consumers who use buy now, pay later companies such as Klarna and Clearpay have debt collectors chasing them for repayments.
If you find yourself with a bill you cannot pay, one of the first consequences will be a late payment charge. In the UK, Klarna charges a £5 fee for late payments, but only after sending at least four ‘friendly reminders’ over a seven-day ‘grace period’. Each late fee is capped at 25% of the order value, with no more than two late fees per order.
If you miss a payment on its ‘pay after 30 days’ or ‘pay in three instalments’ products, the missed payment will not impact your credit score.
If you use Klarna’s ‘financing’ product, which does attract interest, any interest-free period or promotional rate will likely end when you miss a payment. You will then revert to the default rate of interest of 18.9%, which is equivalent to credit card borrowing. The missed payment will also be reported to the credit reference agencies and will negatively impact your credit score.
If you continue not to pay, Klarna may refer the debt to a debt collection agency. Klarna does not say exactly when this will happen, but it’s usually after a few months. At this point, you can expect the action taken against you to escalate. The debt collection agency may try to contact you to discuss the payment in writing, over the phone or in person.
If you still cannot pay, Klarna or the debt collector may take legal action against you and the court can order you to repay the debt plus interest and costs. At this point, your possessions and even your home could be at risk. Given the potential severity of the consequences, it’s important to take action and seek professional advice as soon as you realise you cannot pay.
If you’re struggling to pay the money you owe to Klarna, there are several steps you can take. Acting at the first sign of a problem will give you the best chance of avoiding the negative consequences we’ve described above.
Snooze your repayment
If you choose to pay in 30 days or the three instalments option, you can ‘snooze’ the repayment on the Klarna app. Just go to ‘Payment options’ and click the ‘Snooze’ button. That will give you an extra 10 interest- and fee-free days to make the payment. You can only snooze the payment once per order, so if you need more time, you should contact Klarna before the 10-day period ends.
Many companies are willing to negotiate payment plans with customers who are struggling to pay what they owe. You can contact Klarna customer services by phone, email or live chat. They may be willing to give you more time to pay or reduce the interest on a financing agreement. Being honest about your situation and letting Klarna know what’s going on could prevent your debt from being referred to a debt collection agency.
Seek professional help from a debt counselling agency
If you cannot make an affordable repayment agreement with Klarna, you could seek help from professional debt advisors or a debt charity. They can help you develop a budget and create an affordable repayment plan. They can also explain all the solutions available to help resolve your debt situation.
If you use buy now, pay later schemes and have debt levels that are becoming unmanageable, you should seek help immediately. We can provide advice and debt solutions to lower your monthly payments, write off a proportion of your debt and get your finances back on track. Contact our team for a free, same-day consultation or arrange a home visit from one of our debt advisers.
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