When are transaction fees justified in e-commerce?

Germans reject dunning fees

Two out of three Germans have already received a warning. And every sixth person is of the opinion that dunning fees are not justified. Results of a representative survey.

If all of a sudden a payment reminder with a hefty reminder fee arrives in the mail or by e-mail, consumers and online shoppers are frustrated. It is not just those who refuse to pay their bills on time: According to a representative survey by Innofact AG on behalf of the payment provider Klarna, around two out of three Germans (65 percent) have already received a reminder.

Above all, the time factor seems to play a role: compared to 69 percent of the employed, only 57 percent of the non-employed have already received a warning. Looking at age, too, it becomes clear that especially the 30 to 49-year-olds, who usually have their hands full with career and family, forget to pay a bill much more often (73 percent) than the 50- to 50-year-olds 69-year-olds with only 54 percent.

Every second person considers up to 5 euros to be reasonable

It is not uncommon for the reminder to be accompanied by a hefty reminder fee and its own business model - especially if an external debt collection company is also commissioned. How high a reminder fee may be is not legally stipulated. In contrast, there is a clear trend among those affected: According to the survey, every sixth person generally does not consider reminder fees to be justified. 18 percent of Germans think that the fees should be based on the amount of the bill. One in five (20 percent) considers extra costs between 1 and 2 euros to be justifiable, 17 percent 2 to 3 euros and 19 percent 3 to 5 euros. Only one in ten finds fees of more than 5 euros understandable.

Avoid frustration when shopping

For many consumers, it is not transparent after what period of time a reminder is issued, when a fee is associated with it and what the exact amount of the reminder fee is based on. Because every company handles the dunning process differently. For example, 41 percent of those surveyed say that the dunning process at service providers and online shops is rather or very non-transparent - compared to only 21 percent who consider it to be rather or very transparent.

“An unclear dunning process and excessive demands can quickly lead to consumer displeasure. Then the pleasure of shopping turns into frustration. We at Klarna want to avoid that - this is also in the interests of online retailers, ”explains Robert Bueninck, Klarna DACH managing director. With Klarna, online shoppers have the option of paying at cooperating shops, by invoice, payment in installments or directly when placing the order by direct debit or instant transfer. If a customer chooses to pay via Klarna invoice, they will receive a reminder via push notification two days before the due date. If the amount has not yet been transferred by the deadline, the day after that he will receive a reminder by email to pay for the ordered goods or to contact Klarna. Only if Klarna does not receive any payment in the following five days will the first reminder come with a fee of 1.20 euros. In the event of a return, the customer can pause the invoice until he receives an updated payment amount. This makes it possible to prevent unnecessary payment delays.

"In addition to a transparent dunning process, it is important that the customer does not even get into this situation!" Says Robert Bueninck. The focus of all Klarna products is therefore user-friendliness. "In their own customer profile, for example via the Klarna app or website, online shoppers keep track of all purchases and run no risk of forgetting an invoice and activating a dunning process," says Bueninck. Customers also have the option of creating a payment reminder using a calendar entry. In addition, an automatic payment on the due date can be set so that the invoice is paid in any case and on time.

Every second person wants to receive the reminder by post

The desired communication channels in the event of a reminder are surprising: although email is at the top of the list for three quarters of those surveyed (76 percent), at least one in two (46 percent) would like to be notified by post. Other channels such as SMS or short message services (14 percent) as well as push notifications in the app of an online shop or payment service provider (5 percent) are less popular.

About the survey: On behalf of Klarna, the survey institute Innofact AG surveyed 1,025 German citizens about their age and gender on the topic of dunning fees. The surveys were carried out in August 2018.