Autumn is here and soon it will be winter. To several, this is a time to make subscriptions to new services like gym, to compensate for the changing seasons. With subscriptions, of any kind, it is always good to know the exit strategy. I use the gym subscription example because I found it to be counter-intuitive and I found myself chatting with companies I never thought existed.
There are various ways to pay bills in Sweden. One can pay with cash (less and less preferred option), use the mobile app – swish, use bank cards, direct debit (autogiro), or pay later with invoices (faktura). All is well when you pay bills on time but what happens when you ‘forget’ or ‘miss’ to pay on time?
With autogiro, comes great responsibility. If you have bills to pay, it is your responsibility to ensure that your account has enough funds. On the other hand, you may also decide to not pay an invoice for various reasons (some reasons defy logic – read gym membership example later).
With every invoice, there is a due date (förfallodatum) before which you need to pay the bill. If the bill is not paid by the förfallodatum, the company/person you owe the money can ‘sell’ this debt over to a private debt collector.
Inkassokrav is a debt collection invoice sent by a private debt collection company (inkassoföretag) that took over the original debt i.e. the receiver of the bill has transferred and this comes with a surcharge in interest and reminders.
Usually, inkassokrav should be payable in a few days – less than a week. Hope you are not in the midst of address moving where the invoice may end up at a wrong address (thanks to the digital mailboxes like kivra).
When you receive an inkassokrav, you need to
- pay up immediately.
- or if you believe the invoice is wrong, contact the company that sent the invoice.
- or if you can not pay on time, at least try to call the debt collection company and explain yourself.
If this does not happen, just like before, the inkassokrav company transfers the collection of debt to kronofogden.
Now, the bailiffs (kronofogden) is the level you do not want to reach. Kronofogden takes over the bill and just like inkassokrav, there is an additional charge to it.
Kronofogden can seize your salary in case you do not pay on time. It can also ‘knock at’ your door and seize your property and auction it off to recover the debt.
If the debt at kronofogden is not paid on time, the credit reporting companies decide on whether you get a debt payment remark (betalningsanmärkning) on your personal number (countrywide profile).
As a private individual, the debt payment mark remains on your profile for three years (five years if you are in a law profession). The payment remark on your profile makes ‘your life difficult’ in Sweden. It becomes very hard to:
- get a mobile phone subscription.
- get a rental apartment – remember the credit check when you look for apartments?
- buy anything in instalments.
- obtain a bank account.
1000 ways to end up with an inkassokrav
It is so easy to have unpaid bills, especially with the autogiro payments. It could be a rent payment, a broadband payment, or even a gym payment. The gym scenario is interesting this time of the year and something to keep in mind.
To access a gym, you need to pay for the service and access to facilities at a given gym. With this, you need to pay some charges:
- Gym subscription: It can be monthly, every 3/6/12 months, or a number of times (klippkort).
- Gym membership: Some gyms are part of an association (förening) with other gyms. It makes it possible to ‘pay once, access all’. Payable per calendar year.
Pausing / Ending gym
Let us say you want to pause/to end your gym subscription. You would (or I would) think that, if you stop paying the gym subscription, then you will not be allowed access to the gym (which is the case).
On the other hand, if the gym (*not all gyms though) is part of an association, what they think if you stop paying the monthly subscription is that they were expecting that money anyway but they did not get it.
So you receive a reminder to pay up. So you need to brush up your Swedish skills not to miss any information here (and please do not ignore the reminder). Excuses like ‘it was in Swedish and I did not fully understand it’ does not get you off the hook – not even on the trams in Gothenburg.
A 226kr bill can quickly double to 468kr, and this is before the gym informs you that one needs to give one month notice before leaving the gym.
Keep track of your bills and pay on time especially if you are using autogiro. An inkassokrav in itself is not harmful, but it is inconveniencing and it increases the bill. Furthermore, any unpaid bill can end up in inkassokrav and the service can be requested for by both individuals and companies.