There is nothing more frustrating than paying for something and not getting the service or product you expected. What’s even worse is not getting anything at all. In some cases you have even been charged twice, three times or even more for something you never bought in the first place. I know. I’ve been there.
Disputing An Airline Charge
So what do you do when you come across a mistake in your card statement? In my particular situation, I wasn’t sure what to do at first when I realized that my airline credit card had been overcharged for the $1,203 flight I took to New York. Would I have to pay it? How did it happen? Will the airline credit my account?
Apparently, simple mistakes made by merchants such as overcharging a customer, charging the wrong customer, or simply not providing what the customer asks for is pretty common in the marketplace. For cash transactions, the only recourse for us is to negotiate with the merchant that sold us the products or services, which is hit or miss at best. For credit card transactions, however, the process is a little bit different. You actually have options.
Since I had purchased the tickets with my Visa card, I figured that the airline would be able to see the error and “fix it”. Boy, was I wrong. The airline, which will remain nameless, refused to address the problem, claiming that I must be mistaken after three full hours of discussions with numerous “managers”, etc. It looked like I was going to be stuck after all, or was I?
Instead of letting it go, I decided to call my bank. Not the one where I have my free checking account, but the one that issued my travel credit card. I explained the situation to them, reminding myself to keep my already boiling temper under control. The representative then suggested that I should issue a chargeback against the merchant.
What Is A Credit Card Chargeback?
Ok, so what the heck is a chargeback? A chargeback is simply a fancy name for a dispute lodged against a merchant in regards to a specific transaction or transactions levied against a credit card. Here’s how it works:
As the cardholder, you find out either by reviewing your credit card statement (which you should always do each and every month) or through a notification by your card-issuing bank, that you’ve been overcharged for a product or service, or you did not receive the services or goods you paid for. You should then call your bank and let them know, preferably in a civil conversation, what has occurred. The bank will then issue a chargeback on your behalf.
The bank contacts the acquirer, or the “bank” for the store from which you used your card, notifying them of the dispute. The merchant’s “bank” will remove the disputed funds from the merchant’s checking account and transfer them to your bank, which then makes those funds available while the investigation is occurring.
The burden of proof lies with the store that initiated the charge(s) to your account. They must prove that they not only charged you in accordance with the terms of the sale but that you received the goods or services that you bought and that they reasonably met your expectations. In some cases, proof of signature is all that is needed, however in more complicated cases, more substantiation is required.
At the end of the investigation, usually within 30-90 days of the initial dispute date, a decision is made regarding the transaction. If the merchant is in the right, he or she will be credited with the amount of the sale and you will be responsible for paying for the goods or services in accordance with your cardholder agreement. If you are found to be in the right, you will not be responsible for the transaction.
I followed the representative’s advice. I completed the form and sent it back to the bank. My credit card account was credited the next morning. Since the merchant was in error, the charges were removed from my account, and I was back to flying the friendly skies in no time, with a different airline of course, armed with the knowledge that if I find myself in this situation again, I would know exactly what to do.
There’s a caveat here though: a company called BadCustomer.com keeps track of customers who make it a habit to seek chargebacks too often. Interesting how the term “friendly fraud” is used to refer to customers who try to abuse this particular avenue for avoiding payments. The key here is to be careful about going down the road of disputing transactions; you should have a strong basis for going down this path.
Credit Card Chargebacks: When To Dispute Card Charges
Being overcharged isn’t the only reason you can issue a chargeback against your credit card. Here is a list of common reasons to initiate a chargeback:
1. Your account number does not match.
2. You did not authorize the transaction on your card.
3. You never received the services or goods you’ve ordered.
4. Your expired card was used improperly.
5. The transaction on your card was processed multiple times.
6. You didn’t get a receipt.
7. There’s an error in the amount you were charged.
8. The receipt you receive is illegible, incomplete or incorrect.
9. The product or service is not what you expected or what was advertised.
10. The transaction performed was counterfeit.
11. The merchant did not get your signature.
12. The signature on your transaction is not yours or is different from what’s on the card.
13. Your credit card has no signature.
14. Possible fraud discovered.
15. Transaction dates are incorrect.
16. You have problems with your order.
17. You are unhappy or dissatisfied with products or services rendered.
There’s a whole lot of other transactions that can trigger a chargeback — these are just some examples.
Understand that you are not required to pay for transactions that you have not authorized or which did not meet your expectations. If you find that you have been a victim of an unauthorized transaction or have simply been overcharged for an item, then contact your bank immediately! In most cases, you only have 30 to 60 days after you receive your statement to dispute an item.
Contributing Writer: Alexis Anderson
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