Contracts, subscriptions, bills and debts

Last updated: 2 4 2019

Read more here about contracts and subscriptions, about bills and debts and about what “betalningsanmärkningar” (records of non-payment of debts) are.

Contracts

When you and someone else (another party) reach an agreement about something you enter into a contract. This contract is binding for both parties, which means that you both have to do what the contract says you have promised to do. For example, that one party has promised to deliver a good that the other party then promises to pay for.

When you buy something in a shop or book a ticket on the internet you are entering into a contract. You have to be 18 years old to enter into a contract on your own. There are many types of contracts with different rules depending on what the contract is about.

You can enter into contracts verbally as well as in writing. Some types of contracts have to be in writing in order to be binding, such as when you buy a house.

You are not obliged to pay for anything you have not ordered

In order for a contract to be valid, you have accept an offer or expressly order something. If a company claims you have ordered something, it also has to be able to prove that you have.

You are not obliged to pay for anything you have not ordered, but you always need to contact the company to contest its claim. Contesting its claim means protesting against its wrongful claim for payment from you.

Contest the claim in writing, e g via email, and keep a copy of your email or letter. Remember that you are not obliged to pay shipping costs either when returning something you did not order. If the company wants you to return the item or items, you can ask for a return shipment label.

Subscriptions

A subscription is a contract in which a supplier has promised to regularly deliver a good or service to a customer. A subscription can apply for a specified period of time or be open-ended. A supplier is a person or company that delivers a good or service.

Examples of subscriptions include contracts for the delivery of electricity, for using your mobile phone via a particular operator, and for watching pay-per-view TV via cable or satellite.

Usually it is the supplier who draws up the contract, and contracts are typically written in a way so that they can be used in several similar business situations. This means that you as the customer are usually unable to influence the content of the contract. You either accept the subscription contract as it is, or you choose another supplier.

Customers are often referred to as subscribers.

Subscription traps

A subscription trap is an attractive offer that often has a concealed subscription. On the internet, especially on social media, it is common that you get offers for cheap products that lead to expensive subscriptions. For example, you might get an offer to take part in a market survey and then be able to buy a phone for a very low price. Or you could be sent samples of health food where it looks like you are only paying for the shipping. Subscription traps also occur in telemarketing.

If it was not clear that the offer was linked to a subscription, you are not automatically obliged to pay.

  • As a rule you have the right to change your mind within 14 days if you have entered into a contract in distance sales with a company that is registered within the EU, Norway or Iceland.
  • You are not obliged to pay return shipping costs for a product that you have not ordered.
  • As long as you contest any wrongful claims by the company you do not need to worry about getting any record of non-payment.
  • Contest the claim in writing to the company, e g via email, and keep a copy of the email or letter.

You can get free advice if you think you have been caught in a subscription trap:

Bills

A bill is a document that shows how much something costs. Bills have information about how much you have to pay. For example, you might get a telephone bill or a bill from your child's preschool and recreation centre. You can also get bills for TV, electricity and heating. Bills are also known as invoices.

You have to pay bills before their due date. Bear in mind that your transfer can take a few days to reach the recipient. Often the bill will say "Payment received by us" or "Due date" and a date. This means that the money must have reached the recipient by that date.

You can also go to the bank to pay bills, but it is often expensive and time-consuming. Many banks actually charge a high fee of you pay in one of their branches.

It is quicker to pay via the internet, and also cheaper. In order to pay via the internet you have to have a bank account. The bank can then make your account available via internet banking. If you use internet banking you can pay bills from a computer.

Bills have a number to Bank Giro or Plus Giro account. You then type in the account number you are paying to via internet banking.

Incorrect and fake invoices

Sometimes companies make mistakes when they prepare and send invoices, so you receive an incorrect invoice. The whole invoice may be incorrect, or only parts of it.

When you receive an invoice for a item or service you have not ordered, this can also be called a fake invoice.

  • Always begin by contacting the company to point out the mistake.
  • Contest the invoice in writing, e g via email, and keep a copy of the email or letter.
  • Do not use the item or service that you received without having ordered.

You can get free advice on how to contest an invoice:

Debts and records of non-payment

What is a debt?

A debt arises as soon as you owe someone something. In most cases, debts are about owing money, usually because of unpaid bills or loans.

Pay bills on time

Bills have to be paid on time. If you don't pay your bill on time, you will be in debt to the seller. This gives the seller the right to charge you a late fee and interest on arrears (the unpaid amount). These charges will be added to the bill you have not paid, and mean that your debt will grow if you don't pay. Your debt can grow quickly.

If you have received a reminder to pay a bill, make sure you pay it as soon as possible so that you don't end up in greater debt.

If you still don't pay your bill after you have received reminders, the company you owe the money to or its representative will send you a debt collection demand. This means that you get one last chance to pay the bill, plus fees and interest, before the matter is handed to the Swedish Enforcement Authority.

But you must not pay for anything you have not ordered. In that case you have to contest the invoice instead – read more under the section "Incorrect and fake invoices".

Payment order from the Enforcement Authority

If you receive a letter from the Enforcement Authority, an order to pay, and you pay it straight away, no record of non-payment will be made for you.

If you think the order to pay is incorrect you can contest it by contacting the Enforcement Authority and describing what you think is incorrect.

What is a record of non-payment?

A record of non-payment is a registration at a credit reference agency that you have not honoured you payments in the past. Credit reference agencies get their information from the Enforcement Authority and other sources. If you have a record of non-payment you may have difficulties renting a flat, buying things to be paid in instalments, or getting a bank loan. In other words, ignoring your debts brings future consequences. A record of non-payment remains registered for at least three years.

What do I do if I am unable to pay?

Sometimes situations can arise that make you unable to pay on time. These might be illness, accidents, or other reasons that you are not earning enough money to pay your debts. In such situations you should immediately contact the supplier or suppliers that you have contracts with or owe debts to. That way you may be able to agree on a payment plan.

You can get free advice about contracts, subscriptions, bills and debts:

Advice on budgets and debt:

You can get help and advice regarding your finances from the municipality where you live. All municipalities offer free budget and debt advice.