The consumer trend of subscription services like Netflix, and ‘buy now, pay later’ schemes, have extended to home furniture, with consumers signing up to dress their homes in the latest styles.
Speaking to 9News, Melbourne resident Alex Perilli said when he moved into his home, he could not wait to deck it out with the latest furniture.
He wanted high-end quality without having to commit to high-end prices.
“Maybe in 12 months we want to change our style,” he said.
“You don’t want to keep a sofa because you spent $10,000 on it.”
He used a service called Breeze where subscribers pay monthly instalments on pieces of furniture and at the end of the term, they can choose to buy it, swap it, or return it.
“There is a shift in consumer behaviour – more people want access over ownership,” TJ Hoon from Breeze said.
Many consumers have opted for subscription services for entertainment such as TV shows and movies, as well as food, cars and now even furniture.
“You do it online with Airbnb and Netflix every day. So why not furniture?” Mr Perilli said.
The trend to “pay later” continues to grow, with major retailers like Harvey Norman offering “latitude payments” promising “zero interest” with conditions.
New product subscription services like Snaffle are constantly entering the market.
“We really control the spending to what you can afford,” Paul Winslow from Snaffle said.
“We offer you the great products that you want and you can pay for them over one, three or four years.”
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However, the Consumer Action Law Centre wants people to be aware of the risks and look closely at the terms and conditions.
“Many people are coming up to our service with multiple ‘buy now, pay later’ products to different providers and becoming over-indebted very quickly,” Consumer Action Law Centre CEO Gerard Brody said.
Mr Brody said consumers could wind up paying three to five times more for a product than if they made the purchase outright.
It is also important to be wary even if the service is selling the product interest-free.
“That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other costs that are hidden and risks to consumers including that they don’t abide by the consumer protections,” Mr Brody said.