In a 30-second television commercial launched by Afterpay, actor Rebel Wilson tells young girls using the service means they will never have to pay interest.
“It’s like eating a whole tub of ice cream and spreading the calories over six weeks,” she says. “It’s like having the abs now and getting six weeks to do the sit-ups.”
What Ms Wilson doesn’t say is that if you miss any of Afterpay’s instalment payments, you will incur additional charges up to 25 per cent of the price of the goods you are purchasing.
While there are no fees when you pay on time, “Late fees are capped at 25 per cent of the purchase price,” Afterpay explains on its website.
Afterpay is a buy now, pay later platform that was founded in Australia by Nick Molnar and Anthony Eisen in 2015. The company has since expanded to the US, Canada, the UK, France, Italy and Spain.
It has become the darling of the stock market since listing on the Australian Stock Exchange four years ago, and its founders are regularly featured on rich lists.
But not everyone loves Afterpay. The company is facing a US class action brought by two law firms on behalf of Springfield, Missouri-based Brooke Miller and 100 users of the buy now, pay later service.
The parties have accused Afterpay of “misrepresentations and omissions” in marketing materials about its instalment payment system, and unfairly targeting “young and poor consumers and those struggling to make ends meet.
“Afterpay’s marketing never warns consumers of the extreme and crushing NSF (non-sufficient funds) and overdraft fee risk of using the service,” the legal documents allege.
“Afterpay conceals from users the punishing risk of NSF and overdraft fees on smaller dollar Afterpay repayments.”
An Afterpay spokeswoman said the company had not been served with a class action claim and added that the complaint was “without merit.”
“If served, the claim will be vigorously defended. The allegations relate to fees charged by a consumer’s banking institution – not Afterpay.
“Our terms and conditions state that individuals must have sufficient funds in their account to meet their repayments. We also remind our customers regularly to ensure they have sufficient funds,” the spokeswoman said.
The legal action comes at a crucial time for the company in the US as Afterpay is considering listing on the US stock exchange.
Regarding the launch of its Pay Better advertising campaign, Geoff Seeley, Afterpay global chief marketing officer said: “Since inception, Afterpay has inspired people to take control of their financial lives by using their own money to pay for things they want and need over time.
“We’re thrilled to partner with our fellow Aussie, Rebel Wilson to encourage more people to join our movement and pay better.”
And Ms Wilson adds: “Paying better to me means paying in a way that benefits me and also not paying any unnecessary fees or added extras. That’s exactly what Afterpay’s Pay Better campaign is empowering consumers to do.”