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If you’ve purchased something and never received it or were dissatisfied after purchase, one option is to start a credit card chargeback. If you make a credit card chargeback, your money will be refunded by the merchant and the merchant will also receive a chargeback fine.
Depending on the credit card you have, a chargeback can be a complicated process, or as simple as making a phone call or filing a claim online.
Are you on “the list?”
Recent reports, most notably from the Huffington Post and Walletpop, say that people who make credit card chargebacks, though, are in danger of being “blacklisted” on a website called BadCustomer.com.
Debatable chargebacks are considered a form of “friendly fraud.” According to the Walletpop article, friendly fraud is “an intentional action taken by a customer to cheat a retailer out of money and get merchandise for free.” It’s not as serious as regular fraud in which you’re using someone else’s card to make purchases, but it does have legal and financial ramifications — including your card privileges being revoked.
If you find your name on the list at BadCustomer.com, it will cost $99 to have it removed — unless you can prove it was an accident, either a miscommunication with the merchant (for instance, you did, in fact, return the goods and they didn’t receive it) or didn’t know what you were doing (for instance, you honestly thought you did return a product, but later found it in your car, ready to be mailed).
In either event, it can be a hassle to prove you were in the right. So we recommend using a credit card chargeback only as a last resort.
Often, consumers start a chargeback because they don’t recognize a particular charge. Some merchants have charge accounts in names that are different from their store. Look back over your receipts (both emailed and hard copy) for purchases matching that date on your statement. This should jog your memory.
And from there you should first attempt to resolve the situation with the merchant. before resorting to requesting a charge-back.
So, if you made a purchase from a brick-and-mortar store and are dissatisfied, try to return the merchandise to the store for a refund. Even if you don’t have your receipt or the box, you can attempt to make the return. You may need to speak with a manager.
Steps to Take with the Merchant
- Email or phone the merchant. If you’re disputing a product purchase made online, either because you were dissatisfied with your purchase or because you never received it, phone or email the e-tailer to work things out.
- Show proof. If you’re being billed for merchandise that you returned (for instance, before the end of a trial period) send a copy (not the original) of your receipt, packing slip or documentation that shows you mailed the merchandise back before the trial period ended.
- Threaten a chargeback. Chargebacks cost merchants $11.8 billion last year, according to Walletpop. Merchants would much rather resolve the matter without getting your credit card company involved. Often, the threat of a chargeback is enough to get your money refunded.
How To Make a Chargeback
If all else fails and you used a credit card to make your purchase, you can make a chargeback for a full refund. You can initiate a chargeback in one of two ways:
In writing, by mail or email
Send a letter or email stating the problem. Include any necessary documentation (sales receipts, mailing slips that shows you returned the merchandise, etc.), either as photocopies or scanned documents. Also include details about the steps you took to resolve the problem.
Call your credit card company’s customer service number and tell them you’d like to start a chargeback. They will give you further directions, which will probably include mailing your documentation.
What to Remember When You Make a Credit Card Chargeback
If you do resort to requesting a chargeback, remember these tips:
- Most banks require customers file a chargeback claim within 60 days of the credit card statement date on which the disputed charge appears.
- Arm yourself with all documentation, including knowledge of the merchant’s return policy.
- Although you’re not required by law to attempt to resolve the dispute with the merchant directly, it’s a good idea to do so. Keep a record of all steps you take, including conversations and documentation you offered. Sometimes, threatening a chargeback is all you need to do to get a refund.