Need to know
- After Brosa went out of business in late 2022, thousands of customers who had paid for goods were informed they’d be getting nothing
- Some Brosa customers who bought goods using Afterpay and Zip Pay are now in the position of having to make payments for items they’ll never receive
- Users of these buy now, pay later services say their customer support has been sorely lacking
The recent collapse of online retailer Brosa, and its rapid acquisition by Kogan, has left some Afterpay and Zip Pay users facing ongoing withdrawals from their accounts with little hope their orders will ever arrive.
The buy now, pay later businesses say they're contacting affected users and offering refunds, but the users tell a different story.
Continuing payments – for nothing
When Brosa fell into voluntary administration on 14 December 2022, about $10 million worth of orders remained undelivered, leaving about 5290 people out of pocket.
Kogan acquired the company on 21 December, paying $1.5 million for a business that had previously been valued at $60 million.
It later emerged that around 2790 of the out-of-pocket customers purchased goods that couldn't be located in warehouses.
That meant neither the goods nor a refund would be forthcoming. (Brosa administrator KordaMentha has referred to the missing items as non-identified or unallocated goods.)
For Brosa customers with orders in this category who used Afterpay or Zip Pay, having payments automatically deducted from their accounts has been a bitter pill to swallow.
Chargeback schemes working for some
There is confusion about whether affected Brosa customers should be seeking refunds from the buy now, pay later service or from their banks.
While many Afterpay users say they're still waiting for their refunds, and Afterpay says they're on the way, an Afterpay spokesperson also told CHOICE that using the service does not override the protections that come with credit and debit cards, including access to chargeback schemes.
"Since Afterpay only allows customers to pay with either a credit or debit card, customers are subject to the same protections they would have had had they used their payment cards directly with the retailer," the spokesperson says.
"This means that if a customer buys an item using Afterpay and is making payments with a debit card, then the customer is afforded the protections offered by their debit card issuer."
Continuing to be billed by a buy now, pay later service for Brosa goods they'll never receive has angered many customers.
Several customers say they disputed Afterpay transactions through their banks (the card issuer) and were able to secure a reimbursement.
But at least one Afterpay user says Afterpay is disputing their chargeback request and they remain uncompensated.
And the Zip Pay customers we've heard from say their requests for refunds remain unanswered.
Zip, Afterpay say they're compensating customers
Despite what some Afterpay and Zip Pay users are saying, the businesses maintain they're providing refunds.
According to a Zip spokesperson, the company is working with Kogan to identify which Brosa customers will not be receiving their orders and taking steps to see that they're reimbursed.
"Where Kogan has advised customers that they are not able to honour the purchase, or provide adequate compensation, Zip is refunding customers. Where payments have been made by impacted customers, those payments will be refunded," the spokesperson said.
Along with encouraging customers to use their credit or debit card chargeback schemes, the Afterpay spokesperson says the company has a policy in place to protect customers and manage refunds in cases of merchant insolvency.
Open a dispute with them and they will be hopeless in getting back to you or helping youAfterpay user
"This policy involves working with the insolvent merchant, the administrators, and – in instances of the sale of the business – the new owner of the business, to achieve a best-case resolution for customers. This can involve reallocation of available stock, store credit with the new business owner, or issuance of a goodwill refund by Afterpay. All customers in this situation have been contacted and offered a resolution."
The Afterpay spokesperson added that customers who are not eligible for a credit with Kogan and have provided proof of unallocated stock have been offered a goodwill refund.
The company says customers who have not been compensated can lodge a dispute with Afterpay at its self-service portal.
But one Afterpay user says "open a dispute with them and they will be hopeless in getting back to you or helping you".
Company assurances only go so far
Despite both companies making assurances that refunds are on their way, the real-life experience of customers tells a different story. Many Afterpay and Zip Pay users have taken to social media to vent their frustration.
"Afterpay has told me to suck it up, and Zip Pay has been sending me in circles," said one Brosa customer.
"I paid Afterpay directly, not Brosa, so I feel they are liable too," said another, adding "I had one payment left which I asked Afterpay to stop as I would not be receiving the purchase and the final payment came out anyway".
The anger on social media has a recurring theme – Afterpay is difficult to get in touch with, and they're no help if you do manage to get in touch.
Tony*, a user of both Afterpay and Zip Pay, told us both services have subjected him to a lengthy runaround, though Afterpay finally came through with a refund. (*Not his real name.)
"My partner and I have had horrible experiences with Zip and Afterpay regarding refunds for unallocated stock," Tony says.
"We have since received a refund from Afterpay even after they originally closed the dispute and said there was nothing they could do. But our dispute with Zip is still ongoing and they have us running around in circles. We are still awaiting an outcome and are just totally appalled by the lack of customer service and support from this business."
My partner and I have had horrible experiences with Zip and Afterpay regarding refunds for unallocated stockAfterpay, Zip Pay user 'Tony'
Katia Sanderson, the director of Financial Counselling with the Consumer Action Law Centre in Victoria, says callers to the National Debt Helpline often report receiving poor hardship responses from their buy now, pay later provider.
"Unfortunately, I am not surprised to hear that some customers eligible for a credit are not being heard," Sanderson says.
What to do if you've paid and won't be getting the goods
- Lodge a chargeback request with your bank or other credit card issuer.
- Lodge a complaint and chargeback request with your buy now, pay later provider and stay on the case.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.