December 5, 2022

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Alcohol installments are progressing in online stores, and experts want the government to step in

Alcohol installments are progressing in online stores, and experts want the government to step in

No more money in the bank account, but still fancy having a drink? Almost all online Dutch liquor stores operate in tandem with ‘Buy Now Pay Later”Apps (bnpl), such as Klarna or Riverty. This allows you to order alcoholic beverages online which does not need to be paid until 2 to 2 months later.

Prevention organizations such as the Trimbos Institute and the Foundation for the Prevention of Alcohol (STAP) told RTL Nieuws that deferring payment encourages consumers to order more alcohol than they expected. They were surprised, because the alcohol law was amended last year to include stricter rules banning promotional offers and high discounts on alcoholic beverages. According to the Cabinet, this should prevent people from buying more alcohol than they planned.

Additional cost

Market leader Gall & Gall, part of the Ahold Delhaize Group, is collaborating online with financial services provider Klarna. This company pays the bill on behalf of the client, Gall & Gall and then the order is delivered to their home. The customer has thirty to sixty days to pay the bill to Klarna, which charges 1.95 euros for it.

If payment is not made after several reminders, Klarna charges a fine of €7.50 to €13.50 and costs can eventually go up to 15 percent of the purchase value.

Wijnvoordeel.nl, which uses the bnpl Riverty app, does not charge any upfront costs for deferred payment. But once a customer defaults at Riverty and doesn’t pay on time, track collection costs with a minimum of €40.

Drankgigant.nl, in its own words “the largest online liquor store”, and competitors such as Grapedistrict.nl, Drankstunter.nl, Topdrinks.nl and Neleman.org also work with Klarna or Riverty.

Experts warn against postponing payments for some time, as these applications cause the line between purchase and loan to become blurred. Online shopping no longer feels like spending money and this can put vulnerable groups in a bind.

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price incentive

Lending is a worse idea, especially with an addictive substance like alcohol, says Carmen Vogt, an alcohol policy researcher at the Trimbus Institute. Because with a product as addictive as alcohol, pushing is a defining moment.

“Paying late makes buying alcohol more attractive because the price no longer holds you back,” Vogt says. “While we know from research that price incentive is actually a critical factor in deciding whether or not someone buys alcohol, and how much.”

religion

Addiction care provider Jellinek fears these apps will cause financial misery. “This can also lead to excessive users getting into debt and getting into financial problems,” prevention director Fleur van Bakum says.

plural

In the first half of 2022, 3 percent of all Dutch online transactions were paid for through bnpl apps; That’s a 47 percent increase over 2021, according to data from research agency GFK. This makes Postpaid Payment the biggest growth among online payment methods. Apple Pay and Paypal will also offer this payment method.

It’s unknown how many transactions online liquor stores handle annually via bnpl apps, and Klarna and Riverty don’t like to say that either. A 2020 study by Ecorys indicates that 17.8 percent of adults in the Netherlands have purchased alcohol online.

Price is crucial

Wim Van Dalen, director of STAP Alcohol Prevention, finds it irresponsible for liquor stores to offer alcohol on debt. “It’s clear that unlicensed licensors don’t understand how their products are being marketed,” he says. “If you want to do something about alcohol consumption, price is key.”

Precisely for this reason, the alcohol law has all kinds of restrictions, such as bans on high discounts and restrictions on alcohol advertising. The National Prohibition Convention even suggests introducing a minimum price for alcoholic beverages.

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party, party

Van Dalen says alcohol installments thwart this ambition. “It’s legal from a legal point of view, but deferred payment goes directly against the spirit of the alcohol law.”

But according to Mark Pope of Drankgigant.nl, customers who use deferred payments are not usually alcoholics. “We see that people find deferred payment very useful when they’re organizing a drink or a party. They can then return all purchases that weren’t drunk, and then pay through Riverty only for what’s already been consumed.”

Buy Now Pay Later

Postpaid payment has become very popular during the Corona pandemic, especially in online clothing stores. The best known provider is Klarna of Sweden. Riverty, formerly known as AfterPay, is part of the Bertelsmann Group, which also owns the RTL Group.

When making a purchase, Klarna and Riverty very quickly check if the customer has any payment issues. Then they submit the purchase amount and take the risk of non-payment from the online store. Also, no order, card number, or permit is required in advance: an important difference with credit cards. Moreover, bnpl applications do not charge interest in the initial period, so transactions are not subject to the obligation to report to the Credit Registry Bureau (BKR), an institution that monitors the accumulation of doubtful debts.

in conversation

Klarna denies that purchasing behavior of alcoholic products is affected by deferred payment. “Consumers have paid for alcohol for decades through credit cards or other forms of credit. Klarna is a new alternative, but it does not affect consumers’ buying behavior in any way.” The company says that 99 percent of customers who use Klarna pay their due amount on time.

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Riverty also doesn’t recognize himself in criticism and says that every online payment method ultimately has the same effect. “If consumers can no longer meet their payment obligations, purchases of new products are limited or even impossible.”

However, Gall & Gall says in response to questions from RTL Nieuws that it would like to know more about the objections that prevention organizations have against deferred payment of online alcohol sales. Online stores are now obligated to offer a payment method in which customers only pay at least half of the invoice upon delivery. Gall & Gall is committed to this with deferred payment via Klarna, according to a spokesperson.

Negotiable replacement for Gall & Gall. “We see this being used by a very small group, mostly older customers. We are happy to speak to the authorities and are ready to see if an alternative payment method is more appropriate.”

unwanted

Wijnvoordeel.nl states that “almost all transactions” are via iDeal. “So there is hardly anything Buy Now Pay Later-Manager Bart Coppins says, “According to him, the online store will continue to pay after that, because consumers expect that from the company.

But Carmen Vogt (Trimbos) believes that online liquor stores should take responsibility. She says vulnerable groups, such as young people and people with addictions, need protection. “The price determines how much alcohol they can buy, but if you remove the incentive to pay, you may start to use more alcohol and that’s undesirable.”