US BNPL Users Charged Several Times Due To Technical Glitch

January 17, 2023
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American users of buy now, pay later (BNPL) provider Affirm have taken to social media to complain that they were wrongly charged multiple times, leaving them with little or no money on their accounts before the long weekend.

American users of buy now, pay later (BNPL) provider Affirm have taken to social media to complain that they were wrongly charged multiple times, leaving them with little or no money on their accounts before the long weekend.

Affirm’s Twitter page was swamped by angry users on Friday (January 13) after the firm withdrew instalment payments several times, causing some users to pay more than a $100 bank fee for non-sufficient funds and overdraft.

Some people claimed they were charged five to ten times during the glitch, while others said that hundreds and even thousands of dollars were taken from their accounts.

“$750 taken, only stopped because my account was drained,” one user wrote, while others were complaining about charges totalling $1,750 and $3,000.

According to the posts, Affirm told its users that only the first charge went through the banks and repeated charges, which are pending, will be rejected by the banks.

If they do go through, the BNPL provider directed consumers to contact their banks to dispute the issue with them.

The multiple charges left many people without money, causing some of them to pay overdrafts or non-sufficient fund (NSF) fees, which typically average $34 a time.

One user claimed their credit card “got hit with $126 because it overdraft my debit”.

Affirm acknowledged the issue and apologised for the inconvenience.

The company said the multiple charges resulted from a technical issue, affected “select users” and took steps ASAP to fix it.

Affirm said that pending duplicate charges will not be withdrawn and will be corrected on a user’s bank transaction history in the next three to seven business days.

Additionally, the BNPL provider told VIXIO that it would reimburse users with valid claims who paid overdraft or NSF fees as a result of the multiple charges.

“This technical issue has been fixed and you will not be responsible for any duplicate charges,” the company told its users in an email.

“If these pending charges are impacting your available funds, we are deeply sorry.”

The timing of the incident further increased the pressure on Affirm and the discontent among its users. Many people pointed out that their accounts were drained before a three-day weekend after which they might need to wait three to seven working days to get their money back.

The way Affirm handled the issue also came under fire.

“Technical issues happen, fine. But the lack of correspondence is ridiculous. Why would you not send an email?,” one user wrote. Meanwhile, others criticised the firm for not reaching out to its users until some went to Twitter and Reddit to vent their frustrations.

Affirm has around 15m active users who can shop at around 245,000 merchants. The company says its core values are honesty, transparency and putting people first.

Unlike some BNPL options, Affirm does not charge late fees. Consumers can choose to pay fewer instalments interest-free or more instalments with a fixed interest that the consumer agrees to upfront at checkout.

“No ability to revolve by design. No gotchas, no fees, and no surprises,” the company’s fact sheet says.

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