You’re shopping for a new laptop online. You find a great deal on an auction site, make a few clicks and punch in your credit card information. Sit back now, my friend, your days of rebooting your computer six times an hour are just about over!
A week goes by. Then, another week – still with no new laptop. You later find that the “seller” took your money and ran. Are you out of luck? Maybe not.
Understand the Rules of Disputing a Credit Card Charge
If you’d like to return an item or otherwise believe you‘re entitled to a refund, check the receipt for the seller’s rules. Contact its customer service department if there are no stated refund or return policies.
For instances in which you’re order hasn’t arrived, the situation is a bit more complicated. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a merchant is required by law to ship your order within the promised timeframe. If no timeframe is mentioned, it has 30 days to ship your item. Keep this in mind if you’ve waited a few weeks, as the merchant has a while to ship your item if no promises were made.
The merchant may delay your order, provided it contacts you and gives you a chance to cancel. However, after day 30, the order must be canceled and a refund must be issued to your credit card.
If your dispute involves the quality of the goods or services you purchased, the purchase must have been for over $50 for you to have a valid legal claim. Also, it must have occurred within 100 miles of your home. That said, the merchant – or credit card issuer – may be willing to look beyond these limitations to retain your business.
Work With the Seller to Dispute Credit Card Charge
According to Investopedia, you should attempt to work the problem out with the seller before you try to dispute a credit card transaction.
In a case in which you’ve purchased from an established retailer, such as a big box store, contact its customer service department. In many cases, such companies are inclined to give you a refund for legitimate claims or customer complaints, provided they’re reported promptly. So, for example, if you purchase a defective item or spot an overcharge on your receipt after you get home, chances are you’ll get your money back.
Or Notify Your Credit Card Issuer
If the seller won’t work with you, notify the credit card company.
According to the FTC, you should take the following steps to notify the company:
- Write a letter to your issuer with your name, account number, address and a description of the problem
- Include copies of supporting documents (receipts, etc.)
- Keep a copy of your letter and the original supporting documents
- Address the envelope to the issuer’s “billing inquiries” department (may have a different address)
- Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, for proof the issuer received it
- Make sure the envelope gets to the issuer within 60 days of the date it mailed the bill in question
The issuer must acknowledge your complaint in writing within 30 days and resolve the problem within two billing cycles or 90 days, whichever comes first. You may withhold payment of the disputed amount during this period.
What to Do if Your Claim is Denied
There’s no guarantee your credit card issuer will give you a refund if you dispute a credit card charge. Sometimes, this is for a legitimate reason. For example, if the complaint doesn’t reach the issuer until 8 months after the purchase, your credit card company has no obligation to pay a dime back to you.
However, if you believe the issuer has violated your rights, consider taking legal action. If you win – great! If not, there’s not much more you can legally do to get your money back. In the latter case, consider cutting your losses and taking your business elsewhere.