AK lawsuit against payment service Klarna
The Austrian Chamber of Labour (AK) registered around 2,000 complaints about the payment service Klarna Bank AB (publ) in 2020 and is now suing this Swedish bank, which continued to grow strongly during the Corona pandemic. The 2005 startup is now Europe's top fintech public company with the best value performance now exceeding $31 billion. The Stockholm-based company processes transactions for purchases in online shops and enables payment on account. Our ECC also has daily complaint calls about Klarna - during the rapid growth of the company, customer service in particular seems to have been cut.
The customer complaints we receive are often very similar in nature. In the case of payment on account, according to Klarna's terms and conditions, the merchant assigns the claim to the payment service. In the other cases, Klarna acts as a mere payment processor. In both cases, there are more and more problems with the processing, which are not dealt with by the customer service, but often only referred back to the merchant. Although the goods or the first invoice were not delivered to the customers, or if the customers were dissatisfied with the goods and returned them to the merchant, reminders continue to be sent, unimpressed by consumer objections. Even if customers had long since withdrawn from the contract in accordance with the rules, they continued to receive demands for payment with threats of legal consequences or were charged unjustified reminder fees.
Since Klarna's customer service usually sends automated responses unimpressed by customer objections, communication with Klarna is tough and uncooperative on the part of the company. As a payment institution, Klarna is legally obliged to actively offer options for out-of-court dispute resolution, but only refers to a complaints office in Sweden in the small print of its GTCs. In the experience of the ECC, consumers repeatedly wait a long time or in vain for the remittances they are entitled to. The European Consumer Centre, based in the VKI, is therefore eagerly awaiting the judgement of the test case.
Update July 2021
Customers who download the Klarna app and take a knowledge test are less likely to have problems, wrote "Die Presse" on 1 July, and Klarna would therefore waive the reminder fees for these customers. The fact that the reminder fees would now be waived once for a part of the Austrian customers is not enough for the AK and a complaint was filed. Gabriele Zgubic-Egleder, head of the consumer policy department at AK Vienna, sees "aggressive and unfair business practices" in the automated reminder procedure for unjustified claims and suspects a questionable business model, as many consumers would simply comply with the unjustified demands for money. The complaint concerns seven clauses and the business model itself. The complaint was filed with the Vienna Commercial Court on 12 May and the Stockholm authorities were informed on 18 May.