It has been touted as ‘the new layby’. With the tagline, ‘wear now, pay later’, Afterpay has taken the retail world by storm. The Melbourne based, stock exchange listed payment option is now seemingly everywhere. While there are others of its kind out there, Afterpay is different since it does not offer a line of credit, is interest free, and has instant approval. Today we take a closer look at the conceit that has changed online shopping forever.
Before the advent of Afterpay, layby had been the preferred option for instalment shopping. Similar to the latter, you pay off the item/s in four instalments, with the first quarter being deducted right away. It was an easy way to manage your spending, as four equal payments was more tolerable than one giant transaction. The biggest drawback of layby was you’d only get your item/s upon paying off the entire thing. Factor in transaction fees, and the potential of missing a payment, and the dangers are apparent.
Now of course, with retailers offering interest free finance, layby would appear outdated. The problem though with these offers is that once the interest free periods are over, you will be slugged in galleons. You’ll sure have a rude awakening.
Enter Afterpay. It’s been around since at least three years ago, but now it’s the new face of buying online. I’ve heard of Afterpay since last year, but it hadn’t caught on yet. I was wary of trying a new product; I didn’t want to be the guinea pig. In a space of a year, it’s transformed from a little known novelty to payment juggernaut. Afterpay’s biggest draw card is that you could enjoy the items right away upon payment. In other words, you don’t have to wait till payment no.4 to grab ahold of your shopping. The payment cycle could take anywhere between six to eight weeks. At first, some clients pay the initial instalment right away; with others, it’s after the first fortnight.
Out of curiosity, I decided to sign up to Afterpay this week. There was an item from Myer that I was keen on, and it was eligible for Afterpay. At Myer, the minimum price tag for an item to be eligible is $100. This varies by store. Some retailers, like JustJeans and Jag, do not have a minimum amount. I’m glad to know that Kathmandu has also joined the Afterpay party. Meanwhile, some items at Myer, such as Apple products, are excluded. The signup process was cruisy. They asked for your date of birth to ensure you are over 18. They likewise asked for your mobile number, for added security. Once you give your full name and address, and have verified your account thru password and mobile code, you’re good to go. The credit card details come later, something you must add before making transactions.
I heard you get reminders prior to the other payments being debited. You could even pay early. There are some late fees though. If you forget your payment, you will be charged a $10 late fee. There is a subsequent $7 fee if you still do not pay within the next 7 days. And if you don’t pay at all? You will be referred to a third party debt collector and things might get ugly. I’ve heard before that Afterpay has poor customer service, and requests or refunds take a while. In my case, you couldn’t get a refund in store, only an exchange. The hassle and cost of sending it back thru the post would negate any further savings.
My verdict? I think it’s as good as advertised. I see a lengthy future of Afterpay dominating the retail scene.