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Uber Eats: Offering Zip buy now, pay later on food app is dangerous

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There’s a new option on Uber Eats where you can Zip pay your meal. Yes, eat now and be in debt later! “Sorry, guys, I can’t come out tonight. I’m paying off the burrito I ordered last Wednesday!”

As someone who has been banned from Afterpay, I understand this can be a dangerous habit.

Zip pay is one of those buy now, pay later services. You know, you purchase something and then pay it back in instalments. It’s like old-fashioned lay-by, but with instant gratification and the potential that debt collectors may end up hunting you down.

I was at university when I discovered I could buy things without having the money to purchase them. It was the beginning of a self-indulgent love affair. My romance started with Afterpay, which is the same kind of service, but the payment system is spread out differently. With Afterpay, you divide the purchase into four payments, whereas with Zip, you pay off an ongoing fixed monthly sum. I figured if I bought something for $100 but only had to pay it off in $25 instalments, I wouldn’t even notice the money leaving my account.

Turns out I was very wrong. If there’s one piece of financial advice, I can leave you with, it is that you’ll always notice when money starts leaving your account. Especially when you’re at the grocery store, and you realise the money you reserved to buy food has been taken out of your account in an automatic payment to buy a pair of sneakers you didn’t need and aren’t very comfortable.

My relationship with Afterpay was very toxic. I’m talking any couple that has ever been formed on Married At First Sight toxic. All that happened was that I ended up overspending, unable to make my repayments and ultimately deservedly got banned from Afterpay. I’ve been too scared to check my credit history ever since.

I know I was foolish, younger, and mismanaged my money, and sure on a surface level, it is entirely all my fault, but the problem with these buy now pay later services is they make you feel like you can afford anything.

I thought I was Gina Rinehart meets Paris Hilton when I was a university student that still raided my dad’s coin jar for coffee money and I ultimately paid the price, well I paid it back slowly and over time.

So, when I saw that Zip had teamed up with Uber Eats and you could now pay your food delivery off in monthly instalments, I was mortified and horrified.

I realise there’s a group of people that use services like Zip and Afterpay because they must, but the average user is more like myself and uses these services for stuff they don’t need but would really like.

I can totally see the kind of thought process Uber Eats and Zip evoke.

Instead of popping down to the local supermarket and grabbing stuff to make a delicious spaghetti for $15, you’ll order a spaghetti for $35, and why not add on a soft drink and some garlic bread and get the whole thing up around the $50 mark?

After all, you aren’t paying for it now; you’ll worry about it later.

I know we are in a cost-of-living crisis, and it is really tempting to put off your bills, but I find these services create the illusion that we can afford stuff that we can’t. If you have to Zip your Uber Eats, I’m sorry, but you should probably be at home cooking an unglamorous but more affordable option. Trust me, future you will thank you.

Mary Madigan is a freelance writer

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