Disputing a credit card charge can save you money when a purchase goes awry or when someone uses your card without your permission. However, the process of disputing a credit card charge can be a little complicated. Plus, when you dispute a charge, it’s often an all or nothing situation. You’ll almost always either get all your money back if the credit card company decides in your favor, or none of it if the company decides in favor of the vendor.
Whether you’re dealing with goods that haven’t been delivered, cancelled travel plans, or an unauthorized charge, these three tips will help you in your credit card dispute:
Know the Rules in the Fair Credit Billing Act
Obviously, you’ve got to understand what protection you have under the law before you know how far to take the credit card dispute process. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, many different types of disputes are covered. Here’s a list of what you can dispute according to this law:
- Unauthorized charges: You’re only responsible for up to $50 for unauthorized charges, and some credit card companies limit your liability to $0 in their own contracts.
- Non-delivery: If you’re charged for goods or services that were unacceptable, weren’t delivered at all, or weren’t delivered as agreed, you can dispute the charge.
- Errors: Charges that involve mathematical errors or that list the wrong date or the wrong amount can also be disputed.
- Failure to pay: If you’ve returned an item successfully but the vendor doesn’t post payment to your credit card, you can dispute the original transaction.
- Failure to bill: If your creditor gets your change of address in writing before a billing period ends but fails to send your bills to the right address, you can dispute their charges.
These rules offer more protection in some areas than in others, and for the most part, credit card
companies get to decide whether you or the vendor who is charging you is in the wrong. For instance, if you buy furniture that is delivered months late, the credit card company could negate the charge because the goods were not delivered as agreed, but they could also rule in favor of the vendor because the furniture was eventually delivered.
Check with the Vendor First
Because a credit card dispute is an all or nothing proposition, you may need to go to the vendor first to try to work out your problems with them directly. Often times, instead of getting a full refund, you’ll get a certificate for future services or products, or you may even get a partial refund.
Unless the charge is very large and the process of disputing it is financially high stakes for you, checking with the vendor can be a better option. When you work directly with a vendor, you may get something back. If they won’t work with you at all, then you can go to the credit card company in hopes that they’ll help. But if you go directly to the credit card company and they rule in favor of the vendor, you won’t get anything back, and you won’t have anywhere else to turn except, possibly, and expensive lawsuit.
File it as a Fraudulent Charge if at all Possible
Any time there are unauthorized charges on your credit card, make sure you file them as such. The law offers more protection for unauthorized charges, whether they’re from a thief or from your teenager who swiped your card to pay for an online purchase or even from a vendor who charged you for services or goods you didn’t ask for. Of course, you should never be fraudulent yourself by saying that a charge was unauthorized if it was authorized by you, but if you can file the charge this way, you’ll get more protection and, often times, a better response from your credit card company.
Know Your Credit Card Provider
One thing that you should always check out when looking at credit card reviews to try to find the best possible credit card for your needs is the company’s records of settling disputes with customers. While a credit card company may not openly share these exact statistics, you may look at reviews from other consumers who have worked with the company on disputes. At the least, you want to make sure that the credit card company you choose works with customers courteously and is easy to file a dispute with.
Disputing a credit card charge takes some time, and it needs to be done in writing. But it can definitely be worth it if it saves you money on goods and services you didn’t receive as promise or charges you didn’t authorize.