Thousands of disappointed shoppers who tried to pre-order the new Microsoft Xbox from Smyths Toys using the ‘buy now, pay later’ service Klarna last Tuesday still don’t know whether they will actually be able to purchase a console more than a week later.
Eager buyers last week were subject to hard credit checks and had direct debits set up to pay for the new console over two years, but were unable to actually purchase it after Smyths and fellow high street seller GAME ran out of stock.
Many received emails after the mix-up from Smyths saying they would ‘have a console for you if you wish to complete a pre-order with us’ without being subjected to any further credit checks and that it would give shoppers more details on how to complete their purchase.
Smyths Toys partnered with Klarna to offer the new Xbox for £20.99 or £28.99 a month over two years. But after it ran out of stock customers were subjected to credit checks for consoles they were unable to purchase
But eight days later those who tried to pre-order the new console for either £20.99 or £28.99 a month have told This is Money they still have no idea whether they were accepted for credit financing for the new Xbox, or whether they would be able to get their hands on the console.
This was despite the fact one customer, Phil Lunt, was assured last Thursday in an email that Smyths ‘will be in touch early next week’ and ‘had not forgotten’ about him.
23-year-old Adam Bagley, from Sunderland, contacted This is Money on Monday to say he had received the email from Smyths last Tuesday telling him he would have six days to complete the pre-order and secure the new Xbox, but no information on how to do so.
He said he had been passed between the two companies, and told us yesterday: ‘Every time I speak to Smyths I tell them Klarna have said there was no problem from their end, and then Smyths just tell me to go and speak to Klarna again as they have no record of my email on the order list.’
He added: ‘I have had multiple calls, emails and Facebook and Twitter messages and I am still no further forward.’
Many expressed frustration at having been told last week not to try and order a console again the next day and instead to wait for Klarna and Smyths Toys to fix the situation.
Mr Lunt told This is Money on Monday: ‘If it wasn’t for Smyths’ mixed up communications I would’ve tried getting another of the pre-orders on Wednesday, as well as trying elsewhere.’
He has not received any update from Smyths since Friday, when the shop again told him it would be in touch ‘early next week with an update’.
He said yesterday: ‘I could’ve bought a Series X outright, the only reason I wanted to go down the All Access route was because I thought it was a good deal for the console plus Game Pass Ultimate in the long run.’
Sam Strandt, 28, from Lincolnshire, was told by Klarna’s customer support last Tuesday on Twitter not to try and make a purchase again ‘as this may leave a negative impact on your credit score’.
He said: ‘Klarna told me not to make another order. Then Smyths released a further bunch of Xbox Series X consoles with All Access the next day. So I was told not to order, then when they sold, a lot of us were left with nothing with no explanation.’
And while customers are yet to receive any more information from Smyths about whether there will be a console available for them to order, there are concerns they may end up losing out.
Klarna published a blog post last Friday, a day after This is Money published our original story highlighting the problems shoppers were facing, saying it ‘was reviewing every Xbox All Access application that was made since 22 September’ to ensure people’s credit scores had not been harmed from making multiple applications.
But it said those who had received emails telling them they had set up a direct debit for their financing agreement had not necessarily been approved for credit and would receive a console.
Those who had been accepted, Klarna said, would be contacted by GAME or Smyths telling them how to pre-order a console without further impacting their credit score, and those who had been declined would have their direct debit cancelled and be contacted by one of the retailers letting them know their options.
More than a week later many frustrated customers have reported on Twitter that they have been unable to get any updates out of Smyths Toys on the status of their order
And this morning it said it was in the process of cancelling direct debits in cases ‘where you were unable to complete your order’, raising the question of whether those left in the dark by Smyths would actually end up with a console after all, as their orders were never processed.
It potentially leaves some shoppers facing the prospect of having hard credit checks on their credit report for a financing agreement for a console they never end up receiving.
Shoppers last week received emails telling them they had set up direct debits with Klarna, despite being unable to order an Xbox console. Klarna has since invalidated some of these
Klarna said this morning it was ‘working with the credit reference agencies to remove any credit checks that should not remain on your credit file’, but Sam Strandt said he had asked Klarna last week to remove the check from his account.
He told This is Money today: ‘I told them I want it removing from my account as a matter of urgency, as I’m in the process of searching for houses.
‘They said they would pass it to the correct people who will respond in the next couple of days, there has been no response.’
This is Money has contacted both Klarna and Smyths Toys for an update on the situation.
Klarna told us: ‘A very small number of Smyths Xbox All Access customers were told in error that their consoles were secured. Smyths will be emailing these customers today.
‘As already confirmed, a direct debit confirmation alone does not mean that a customer has been approved for credit; nor does it guarantee that they will receive an Xbox.’