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Klarna sparks confusion after 'incorrectly' sending emails

The information watchdog says it is "making enquiries" after buy-now-pay-later firm Klarna mistakenly sent its newsletter to consumers who shouldn't have received it.

Klarna says that "human error" meant its newsletter was sent out yesterday (Monday 12 October) to some people who had recently used one of Klarna's products or services, but hadn't signed up to the newsletter.

But some of the people who'd received the email weren't aware they'd used a Klarna product, leaving them confused about how their data had been obtained.

The firm says that some retailers use its services to process all their debit and credit transactions – meaning people could technically have used a "Klarna product" even though they'd made a purchase through a third-party retailer and paid by card rather than through Klarna financing.

Klarna says it's investigating how the email error happened and is taking action to make sure it doesn't happen again.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said that businesses should only contact individuals for electronic marketing purposes where consent has been provided or, in limited circumstances, where they have an existing relationship with a customer.

For more help on your rights and protection when buying online, see our Consumer Rights guide.

What happened?

Klarna caused confusion when its weekly newsletter was mistakenly sent to some people who aren't on its usual mailing list on Monday 12 October – though it wouldn't tell us how many people received the email in error.

Those affected were later sent a follow-up apology email, reading: "We are extremely sorry. You may have just received our newsletter without expecting it. The email was sent incorrectly and you should not have received it. We apologise for the inconvenience."

The email also stressed that those who received the newsletter in error haven't been added to any marketing databases, and won't be sent any more newsletters (unless they later opt in or download the Klarna app).

But some were still concerned about why Klarna had their details to send them the newsletter in the first place – here are a couple of tweets we've seen:

Why did people receive the email?

Klarna says that the email was sent to customers who have recently used its products or services, including its "checkout processing technology".

Its checkout processing technology is a product some retailers use to process payments on their website and it means that Klarna processes all credit and debit card transactions for these retailers – so some people could have used their card to pay another business and still have had their transaction processed by Klarna.

Klarna wouldn't tell us which retailers use its checkout processing technology.

Klarna says it uses data from these customers for purposes such as screening for fraud, processing payments and helping retailers manage shipping – and that anyone who has used its checkout technology will have agreed to its terms and privacy policy, "which allows Klarna to promote its products and services to them".

If you have more questions about what happened or want more information from Klarna about your data, you can contact it through an online form, by emailing or by phoning 0808 189 3333.

What does the ICO say?

An ICO spokesperson said: "Businesses should only contact individuals for electronic marketing purposes where consent has been provided or, in limited circumstances, where they have an existing relationship with a customer.

"Some members of the public have made us aware of an email sent by Klarna and we will be making enquiries."

What does Klarna say?

Part of a statement posted on the Klarna website reads: "We are aware that on 12 October some people received our weekly newsletter by mistake. This was a human error and the email was incorrectly sent, for which we are extremely sorry."

Following the ICO's comment, a Klarna spokesperson said: "At no point has customer data been compromised and the data has been used in line with our terms and conditions and our privacy notice.

"However, given the attention this newsletter received on social media, we have today been in contact with the ICO to ensure their understanding of the email."

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