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Credit Card Disputes

credit, card, dispute, merchant, charge

So you’re glancing at your monthly credit card statement, a religious activity because you make sure every month to verify all charges. Okay, so maybe you don’t practice this religion. But you should. Credit card banks have regulations to follow when it comes to disputes, but a lot of the initiation and follow up work is up to you.

What Kind of Charges Can I Dispute?
Credit card charges can be disputed for any number of reasons. The most common is unauthorized use, where you notice a charge placed on your statement that you did not make. One thing to remember before reporting this types of charge is that charges made at kiosks, craft fairs, online or through a vendor will likely not show up as the name that you saw. Typically these shops are run by parent companies. Review the amount and see if there are any phone numbers next to the charge so you can call to check on the charge. On unauthorized charges the phone number listed next to the merchant’s name is usually the quickest way to resolve the charge rather than using the credit card company. Many times you will find that there is a valid purchase that the charge pertains to. Should you still believe it unauthorized, notify the credit card company either by phone, email or writing to notify them of the unauthorized charge so a chargeback will be processed. Chargebacks place a credit on your account and re-debit the merchants account so they do not show as paid for the purchase.

Occasionally, if a merchant cannot get your card to run through during the purchase, they will try a number of times until it works. This can result in duplicate charges. If you notice duplicate charges on your statement, make sure you have a receipt to document that you authorized only one charge. Contact your credit card company and notify them that you will be sending a copy of the receipt and wish to dispute the charge. The merchant should automatically issue credit or the merchant will need to do a chargeback.

Any time a merchant charges your account and later agrees to issue a credit for the charge it is critical to keep the credit slip. If for some reason that credit is not issued, you have very little recourse to get your money back if you cannot prove they promised credit. Especially on phone or internet orders, keep all documentation to show you had credit due. If the credit does not post within 30 days, send a copy to your credit card bank with a letter disputing the charge because credit was not received.

One of the more complicated issues that occur with credit card charges is when services are not rendered. Typically consumers place large purchases on credit cards, including charges for events like a wedding or a home improvement project or advertising services. These transactions can get complicated and when you feel like the services you ordered were not rendered, you have to show proof of it.

One of the other more complicated disputes is quality of service. Most of these disputes arise from disagreements between what the customer expected and what the merchant actually delivered. Sometimes this is due to bad service or just a disconnect between the two people. The burden of proof does initially fall on the customer. Make sure that with this or any other large purchase that you can document the case fully. In some instances it is necessary to get a second opinion. Anytime you feel as though someone did not provide the services that they were supposed to, such as not replacing your carburetor with a new one, you must have a signed document from a professional in the same business who states that they have inspected the work previously done and that it was done incorrectly. This may not guarantee a chargeback but it will likely be necessary.

For disputes on receipt of merchandise there are usually two key dispute types, Non-Receipt or Item not As Described. When a delivery date is not met by a merchant, you may have to make other arrangements. If that is the case, send the item back to the merchant and ask for a refund. If the merchant refuses, you may have a valid dispute. If you order a specific item in a specific style or color and the merchant sends something different, give them an opportunity to rectify the situation. If they do not, you may again have a valid dispute.

Above all else, remember these things. When you charge an item to your credit cards, be cautious of who you’re dealing with and give them an opportunity to resolve any disputes. Work with them and if they don’t take the chance to make good on their mistake, contact your credit card company immediately. For all charges except unauthorized, the credit card issuing bank needs to be notified within 60 days or they will not be able to help you.
Published: 2006-05-06
Author: Katherine Martinez

About the author or the publisher
Katherine is a graduate of University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, TX. She receved her BA in Interdisciplinary Studies in 2001. She has since worked in the banking industry, in credit card service and disputes. She is now working as a mortgage counselor. Despite her career path, Kat has always loved writing. She hopes to refine her skills in the freelance arena while becoming an english teacher. She has been published in her company newsletter and local newspaper's op/ed column.


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