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Citizens Advice warns of returns issues faced by Buy Now Pay Later users


A number of UK consumers who have used Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) products to pay for online shopping are then chased for payments despite having returned their item, a survey by Citizens Advice has found.

The charity estimated that 14 million people in the UK have used a BNPL service in the last year, and looked to discover if consumers run into any difficulties if they need to return shopping. It surveyed over 1,000 people who had used BNPL to order something in the past three months. For people who wanted to return their item, 1 in 10 found their returned item didn’t arrive. Even for those who were able to return their item, almost half experienced a further problem.

The biggest problem people faced was being chased for payments despite having returned their item, with 16% of respondents who returned their item experiencing this. And 1 in 10 were charged late payment fees when they refused to pay for the items they had already returned, with further payments taken at a later date.

People that had already paid for their item and no longer owed the BNPL firm money still found it very difficult to get a refund. Around 1 in 10 people never received a refund even after successfully returning their item. Of those who returned items 11% felt pressured into completing payment to avoid penalties, even though they’d already returned their item, and then didn’t get a refund.

Citizens Advice stressed that the retailer should be responsible for resolving any issues with receiving a refund. However, often the retailer will also need to interact with the BNPL and parcel companies, meaning many people are forced to contact multiple agencies. Of those surveyed who returned their item, 15% experienced “time consuming and stressful tasks” to recieve their refund.

The charity advised keeping proof of postage and suggested consumers consider tracking returns. It recommended that anyone thinking of using a BNPL service do research first and understand how it works. In a blog post, the charity said: “reading the retailer’s Terms and Conditions is a good place to start”.

It added to check if the BNPL company has a Buyer Protection policy or what the BNPL Terms and Conditions said about buyer protection and how they will deal with any issues.

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