Australia: Controversial Booze Now, Pay Later Scheme

Australia: Controversial Booze Now, Pay Later Scheme

‘Buy now, pay later’ services are emerging as veritable credit schemes in Australia. Instead of paying a deposit in store to secure a commodity for later purchase, customers can get their goods straightaway and can use them and consume them before making a single payment. Afterpay is the biggest provider of such services in Australia. It even allows alcohol to be bought in this manner, a controversial scheme that has come under scrutiny and criticism.

Booze now, pay later

The use of buy now, pay later services for alcohol subverts established mechanisms to minimise harm to public health from alcohol, by enticing the consumer with a much lower upfront price,” writes Micheal Thorn, the Chief Executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), in Australia.

Buying alcohol at low or no cost upfront has the potential to increase alcohol harm because price is a crucial modifier in alcohol purchasing behaviour.

Making it easier to access and buy alcohol is associated with increased harm to innocent third parties, including assaults, domestic violence, road crashes, and child maltreatment.”

FARE is advocating for the Australian government to ban the sale of alcohol through buy now pay later services, arguing that these schemes are targeting Australians who are already at risk of financial hardship. Earlier in 2018, the “Booze now, pay later” scheme has come under fire for problems with minors purchasing alcohol through its service.

Using Afterpay for addictive consumables like alcohol via cheap, prominent online promotion is of particular concern for vulnerable groups; people who engage in risky [alcohol use] practices, those who have an alcohol dependency issue that puts them at risk to themselves and also at risk to their families and young people – particularly children, writes Mr Thorn.

Alcohol is no ordinary commodity because of the health and social harm it causes, which costs the Australian public almost $36 billion per annum.

Yet Afterpay and other similar services further normalise alcohol by allowing it to be purchased along with other everyday goods such as clothing, electronics, car repairs, or even dental work …

Enticing the consumer with a much lower upfront price creates a substantial risk that this will simultaneously increase alcohol and credit dependency.”

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