Company Bills Customer For Chargeback

After Ilan successfully filed a chargeback on a company, the company decided to bill him directly for the amount that was refunded. What’s even sneakier is the company (which Ilan didn’t name) waited until after they reported the matter resolved to the Better Business Bureau. Now Ilan’s wondering what options he has to fight back.

Here’s Ilan’s full story:

My wife and I recently issued a charge back with American Express on a transaction with a merchant, as they had not provided the services we agreed to. AMEX reviewed the dispute and found in our favor. However, the merchant is now attempting to bill us directly for the balance AMEX awarded us. Do we have any recourse in this mater? We are concerned they may attempt to collect on this, and ding our credit rating. Can you offer any recommendations?

We had previously attempted to resolve the issue amicably with the merchant via telephone/e-mail, and then eventually with EECB and a complaint through the Better Bureau. At each of these steps the merchant dragged their feet on responding to our complaint. We eventually mentioned the issues in question to AMEX and they recommended we issue a charge back sooner rather than later. In good faith, we waited until the last possible moment to dispute the charges. We were hoping that the company would see the light and decide to work with us, on our credit card.

Up until the point that AMEX found in our favor the company was not responding to our complaints. As soon as we were credit for the amount in question, they responded to the BBB complaint (almost 60 days later). They indicated that the matter was “resolved” via our dispute at AMEX and asked that the BBB close the case.

Now we are staring at a bill that is dated weeks after their response to the BBB. E-mails and phone calls continue to go unanswered.

We appreciate any advice you can offer on what to do next.

First of all, we suggest you immediately re-open a complaint with the BBB and indicate that the company lied to the BBB about resolving the issue. You should also write a letter back to the company and make it clear that you consider the matter settled as per the terms of your original credit card purchase. As far as protecting your credit, you’ll just have to wait to see if it shows up on your credit report—if it does, then you can take action to dispute it and have it removed.

You may want to also check with legal services in your state (try your state’s Attorney General website) to see whether the company is committing mail fraud by billing you for a transaction that was already reversed.

(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. tedyc03 says:

    I would consider the matter closed, indicate that you have no intention to pay the bill, and check your credit history. If it shows up, dispute it with the company. If it gets sold to collections, they can take you to court but your letter indicating the dispute settled with the credit card company should be plenty of evidence to send them packing.

    One thing that Ilan should note is that there are some rules regarding chargebacks and geographic limitations…but if AmEx awarded him a refund, that should not apply here.

  2. MelL says:

    I would also inform Amex as to the company’s antics. While it is true that American Express’ (sp?) work may be done, it is also possible they may not take kindly to a company trying to do an end-run on their customer concerning a chargeback that they, American Express, suggested.

  3. compuwarescc says:

    Want to tip us off to what company is attempting this absurdity?

  4. Wormfather says:

    Yes you do have a recourse, that chargeback that Amex issued is binding arbitration (I know, I know it worked in your favor). Report this to Amex, they should be able to provide you with assistance.

  5. Wormfather says:

    Oh and this bill wouldnt stand a chance in court.

  6. javi0084 says:

    Name names Ilan.

  7. JeffMc says:

    Yep, let’s have the name.

    And good luck with getting things resolved.

  8. PunditGuy says:

    Pimps ARE kind of sensitive about getting paid their money.

  9. Kajj says:

    Oh come on, if he named the company all of his support here would be washed away in a tide of “Well serves you right for shopping THERE!” I think Ilan’s very smart to keep it generic.

  10. dmuth says:

    I would call up AmEx and let them know that the company is trying to do an “end run” around the chargeback. This /may/ be in violation of their merchant agreement with AmEx.

  11. I agree with what’s said above: Contact AmEx and tell them what’s happening. Based on what I’ve read in this forum and others, AmEx seems very good about watching their customers’ back and will probably provide enough bark to make the company back down.

    I would also send the company a written letter (possibly even registered mail) telling them that their bill is bogus (including the invoice number, date and description as per their bill), that you have reopened the BBB case, that you have alerted AmEx and asked them to investigate, that you have the capacity and motivation to generate a fire-storm of horrible publicity for them that will be forever recorded in the archives of the Internet and that they messed with the wrong person. Just to make sure they can’t claim they didn’t know they billed you, or didn’t know what’s going on, yada yada yada….

  12. Pylon83 says:

    Unfortunately, I’m not sure the OP has much recourse. The Amex chargeback is not really an adjudication that he doesn’t owe the bill, simply that Amex isn’t going to pay it. I think if the company brought suit to collect, they’d have a decent chance of getting at least some money. Maybe not the whole thing, depending on how poorly the service was performed. If the company substantially performed (The OP got the essence of their bargain), they may have to pay the entire amount, and sue themselves for damages. They can’t withhold their performance (payment) unless it was a material breach. It’s too bad the company is taking it this far, but the OP didn’t provide enough facts to know what really went down, so I reserve judgment on whether the company SHOULD recover. I’m simply saying they have a good chance of doing so. As to the mail fraud, so long as they have a good faith belief that they are owed the money (the Amex reversal likely doesn’t mean they shouldn’t still think they are entitled to payment), it’s probably not mail fraud (I haven’t read the statute).

  13. MelL says:

    @heavylee-again: I would have to disagree with the letter. If it is written poorly, no offense intended towards the OP, then it could be used as a tool against him. I would recommend seeing about having others fight this fight for you, people like American Express and possible your State Attorney General.

  14. In addition to calling AmEx and the BBB, I’d report it to the state AG. That makes me furious. What good are consumer protections if companies just make an end run? Maybe Ilan has a state AG looking for some deserving company to make an example of.

  15. thinkliberty says:

    Let the company know that you consider the issue “resolved” like they told the BBB and If they send this to a collection agency and/or if it shows up on your credit report you will sue them for defamation/libel.

  16. formatc says:

    I got the same treatment from AT&T Wireless a few years ago, so-named at the time. I filed a chargeback with my Citibank Visa card against an $800 autopay that was 10x my quoted plan because the selling agent (an authorized reseller, not an AT&T store) gave me a pamphlet for unlimited night/weekend minutes but signed me up for 5000 instead. Since I was already halfway into the next month, I had a good $400 racked up already.

    After the chargeback, AT&T immediately added the full balance back onto my account and threatened to send it to collections because it was due immediately in cash. Citibank couldn’t do anything about it since it was not being charged through them. After some phone tag between AT&T and Citibank I was at least able to get the chargeback withdrawn and reluctantly lived with the $1200 in charges. I was making less than $600/yr while in college at the time, so needless to say, it was the beginning of a long line of debt problems until well after I graduated.

    I regret that I didn’t have a site like Consumerist around at the time to guide me through an EECB, because I suspect that it could have been solved fairly easily. The reseller refused to take responsibility because I had no proof that the pamphlet (which I still had) was the one given to me when I signed, and the dated contract only said “$39.99 plan” with no mention of the number of minutes. Needless to say, when it came time to get a new phone and a new plan, I made the selling agent (this time at an AT&T store) sign and date the sales pamphlet. He was reluctant but I wouldn’t sign anything until he did.

  17. homerjay says:

    @Kajj: Boy, I’d REALLY like to know what company this is but you’re right. We all need to promise the OP that we won’t be babies about this and then he can tell us.
    I, for one, promise.
    :)

  18. reiyaku says:

    i agree with the other post up here… we need names… this is quite interesting you know!

  19. Crymson_77 says:

    First and foremost, check your AmEx agreement. The chargeback they applied cancelled out the transaction and as far is the law is concerned, the transaction never occurred. Being as such, they are most certainly committing mail fraud and the best possible course of action is to involve the state AG as soon as possible. I have no doubt a call from the AG’s office will resolve this matter post haste.

  20. spinachdip says:

    I second suggestions to get the state AG involved. AmEx has done its part, and beyond voiding the agreement with the merchant, I’m not sure it can do much, and the most BBB can do is keep a list of naughty, naughty companies. The AG, on the other hand, has quite a bit of power.

  21. Pylon83 says:

    @Crymson_77:
    Respectfully, you are wrong. The chargeback did not cancel out the transaction, it canceled out the method of payment. The transaction, legally, still took place. He received a good in exchange for a promise of payment. He has not yet made good on that promise. The company has chosen to pursue it. There is no mail fraud here (unless the company does NOT have a good-faith belief that they are owed money).

  22. MrsTrish says:

    Just because a chargeback was filed, and payment reversed does not mean that everything dissapears.

    The merchant still has the right to collect the money it obviously feels it is owed, by billing the customer, and if needed, ding the customers credit.

  23. basket548 says:

    @Pylon83:

    Hmm, interesting. However, the fact that the chargeback was upheld would make it seem that the good promised was materially different than the good delivered. Details would help, but I don’t think that a company can collect on this. Certainly, AMEX should be very interested in terminating its relationship with this merchant.

  24. rellog says:

    @Pylon83: Yes, but the company (or individual) accepted the payment and the terms associated. So they agreed to arbitration (of sorts) via AmEx. They lost and don’t have a pot to piss in…

  25. ConsumerA says:

    This sounds exactly like a dispute I had with DIRECTV two years ago. I disputed the final charge when they tried billing me for a receiver that I had shipped back to them. I won the chargeback after proving the receiver had been returned. DIRECTV then sent me to collections. The collections agency called me several times a day for the next few months (but I just blocked their number so it never rang through). I filed a BBB complaint and DIRECTV asked me to return the receiver to remove the charge. I pointed out that it had been shipped back months ago and provided them with tracking information. They said they can’t find the receiver…but it’s not my fault they lost it after it had been delivered to them. My credit rating was never affected…and I will never return to DIRECTV. (

  26. akede2001 says:

    Yeah, you can easily re-open cases with the BBB. Just file more information in the closed case, and it will re-open it. This happened with me and T-Mobile. Every one of their responses claimed to have resolved the matter and to close it, which the BBB did once. I responded and indicated that it was not in fact resolved, and that T-Mobile has been lying about resolution the entire time. In addition, that T-Mobile was providing invalid fax numbers to send documentation to. Documented in my BBB complaint with T-Mobile, they provided and set an unrealistic ultimatum to fax information to them– and they gave me the customer support number to some pharma company as their fax number! Then took three weeks to respond to my response, about how the fax number was invalid and to provide an accurate one.

  27. Pylon83 says:

    @rellog:
    But that still only applies to that particular form of payment. I don’t think that it defeats the merchants right to collect just because Amex decided that it shouldn’t have to pay. What occurred wasn’t binding arbitration, as it was an arbitrary decision by Amex, a party with a stake in the transaction. Further, Amex’s decision is not an adjudication of the contract itself, only of the form of payment. The underlying contract for goods/services is not defeated by Amex’s refusal to pay the merchant. Further, Amex’s determination of what was delivered/provided is not the same as a court deciding what was delivered (or even an “independent” arbitrator.
    The Merchant has every right to attempt to collect on this until a court of law decides otherwise. Really, we need more facts to accurately draw conclusions here.

  28. glitterati says:

    @Pylon83:
    I would genuinely like to understand why you read this site when you have such obvious disdain for the consumer.

  29. Serpephone says:

    Need more info…

  30. Pylon83 says:

    @glitterati:
    My position has absolutely nothing to do with the merits of the consumers claim. I’m simply stating that from a contractual perspective, the merchant is in the right. I genuinely feel bad for the OP, and I certainly hope they work it out. However, I don’t let my emotions get in the way of reality. And the reality of this is that what the Merchant is doing is legal.

  31. frankthefink says:

    @glitterati:
    I don’t think that was disdain for the consumer so much as a clear understanding of the rights and responsibilities of a consumer. When you enter the legal domain of consumer relations, you’ve really got to deal with what IS the case and what DOES happen, not what SHOULD be done, etc.
    Personally, I think the best course of action is to keep the BBB informed, refuse to pay, and then dispute the charges with the credit bureaus. That said, I really can only assume that you have a legitimate claim. If you don’t, then you should probably just pay up and walk away.

  32. Hanke says:

    @Pylon83:
    1. Customer paid for goods or services with a payment method accepted by the merchant.
    2. Merchant did not deliver goods/services as required.
    3a. Merchant refuses to contact customer when customer tries in good faith to have goods/services delivered.
    3b. Merchant is thus refusing service and refund.

    If the customer paid in cash, their only choice at this point would be Small Claims court.

    Since the customer paid by credit card, the card company can act on their behalf in such a dispute. While the resolution is short of a court order awarding damages, it is still binding on the merchant who accepted payment terms as presented to them by the agent of the customer. The customer is under NO obligation to pay any bills from this merchant once the customer’s agent has found the merchant violated the sales contract terms.

  33. zentec says:

    @Pylon83:

    The merchant gave up all rights to these recourses when it accepted the Amex card for payment and the amount of the transaction was deposited into their bank account. The merchant can do what they like, but they are risking more than losing the merchant account. Amex will and does issue merchant smackdowns for this behavior.

    I was in a similar situation when a fleabag motel in Myrtle Beach tried to bill me for a week’s reservation after I left because the place was a filthy pit. It was disputed, it was chargedback and the place kept sending me bills and I kept calling Amex and throwing the bills into a folder in the basement. Then a collection agency specializing in “chargebacks” contacted me. Amex was greatly annoyed at this point, and strangely I never heard another thing about it.

    This is a case of a merchant not really understanding what’s in that contract they signed.

  34. Pylon83 says:

    @zentec:
    The fact they might lose their AMEX account over it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not they are entitled to collect from the consumer. Their contract with AMEX has nothing to do with their contract with the customer.

  35. Pylon83 says:

    @Hanke:
    I think your analysis is wrong. For purposes of the contract between the merchant and the OP, the credit card is the same as cash. Paying with the card creates a collateral agreement for the particular payment. When that method fell through, they had every right to pursue other methods of payment. It would be no different than if the customer had paid with a check that bounced. The reason the payment was reversed is irrelevant. What it comes down to (legally) is the OP didn’t perform his end of the contract. Unless he can prove, in court, that the other party materially or totally breached the contract, he had no right to withhold payment. It’s as simple as that.

  36. zentec says:

    @Pylon83:

    Please, don’t let my personal experience nor my business experience with merchant accounts stand in the way of your opinion. Have a nice day, counselor.

  37. silencedotcom says:

    Wow. This is really scummy. In my (somewhat limited) 3 years of working in the banking field, I’ve never heard of this.

    I would like to know the name of the company, mostly to stay away from them, but if the OP doesn’t want to name names, that’s ok with me (I guess ;)).

  38. Pylon83 says:

    @silencedotcom:
    I do think that these stories have a lot less credibility when they are kept anonymous. If we don’t know what companies are doing this kind of stuff, how do we stay away?

  39. Pro-Pain says:

    Chargebacks are going to become a LOT more difficult soon and companies are going to end up pulling this send to collections shit EVERY TIME. Get used to it. Don’t buy stuff. That’s the best way of dealing with this.

  40. graymulligan says:

    You guys are a trip. Pylon mentions that the merchant might have recourse on the chargeback, and automatically, knowing nothing about the situation other than the word “chargeback”, a consumerist silver bullet combined with garlic and a rosary, you shout him down.

    We don’t know what the situation was, what the transaction was, or who the retailer was. But, there’s no way anyone could ever fight…dum da da dum…the chargeback!

    If the OP paid $1000 for some widgets, and the merchant only sent out $500 worth of widgets in the consumer’s eyes, but $1000 worth of widgets in the merchant’s eyes, and the consumer talks AMEX into the chargeback, would you still back the customer?

    I’m not saying anyone’s right or wrong, just that you guys really need some decaf or something whenever someone disagrees with you.

  41. cronomorph says:

    I’m interested in knowing what company it was and what services he recieved.

    I worked on chargebacks and BBB complaints 2 jobs ago at a now defunct computer builder, and there were times when people would win chargebacks and clearly they should not have.

    There were cases when people would claim non receipt of merchandise, and I could show a clear signature from UPS to their address and would still lose.

    Other times people would just complain. “Well I had to send my system in for repairs twice in 6 months and it took 2 days longer to get back to me than they said it would and they said they would throw in a free game and they didn’t.” They would be in possession of a working system and would win the chargeback.

    At that point we wouldn’t recharge their CC, but we had no qualms about sending them to collections.

    Recharging the CC when there was a chargeback isn’t right, but I want more details before I go “company evil! consumer innocent!”

  42. Pylon83 says:

    @graymulligan:
    Thanks for the support. No one seems to notice that I didn’t take a side re: the merits of the chargeback, I simply stated that I didn’t have enough info to make a judgment, but that just because the chargeback was successful doesn’t mean the merchant can’t collect. I think you’re spot-on regarding the amazement that the chargeback is not the end-all-be-all of consumer remedies. To further your analagy, what if the customer paid for 10 items, the merchant sent 5. What happens when Amex reverses the whole charge? The merchant is just screwed out of the other 5 items?

  43. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Can you pay the bill with your AmEx and then file another chargeback? Just a thought.

  44. Consumer007 says:

    And I think OP needs to go ahead and tell us who the company is so we can avoid them. Why is he protecting their identity?

  45. gjaluvka says:

    Pylon -

    Your rationale makes no sense. It implies that the merchant can in some sense decide how the customer must pay. But he can’t.

    Think of it along this logic line – So long as the customer retains the right to pay via the same credit card as originally used, the merchant cannot, by his agreement with the card itself, refuse such payment. And since such payment has been charged back and it is a violation of most, if not all, card/merchant agreements, to re-bill, hence it follows that a rebilling is not enforceable.

    This is a cost of doing business with the card centers.

  46. dveight says:

    @Pylon83:
    Hey, I totally agree with everything that you have said. People need to understand the difference between what a company CAN do and SHOULD do.

    A charge back does not void a transaction, it only withdraw payment for that transaction. I feel for the OP but without further information on what really happened, it is impossible to say who is “right” in this.

    If the company did do a service for the OP, they are entitled to some sort of payment and what they are doing is perfectly legal. As of this point it does not look like the company is going to back down, it might be time to get a lawyer involve. However unless they caused damage to you or your property, you will most likely have to make some type of payment to them. The court system is there to make you “whole” you can’t come out better then you came in.

  47. timmus says:

    Why is the complaintant choosing to protect the guilty company? This is NOT a site for legal help, this is a site to educate and inform other consumers.

  48. elmo3 says:

    you know, people need to quit freaking out–especially in this day and age–just because some “company” sends them a bill.

    I mean, just because they send a bill doesn’t mean squat. I can start sending bills out to this guy; would he pay them?

    Nowadays especially, companies are going to wild extremes–getting in your face–to make any revenue come in. And face it: statistically, they win if they simply send the bills out. Most people will just go ahead and pay the bill.

    Don’t freak out. Don’t worry about this. It’s no big deal.

  49. Cogito Ergo Bibo says:

    I’m with Pylon83. We need more facts, here. But the underlying agreement for goods and services btween the consumer and merchant is likely separate and apart from the agreement between AmEx and the merchant, regarding method of payment. The merchant may have agreed to certain terms in accepting the AmEx, but those terms only governed how and under what circumstances AmEx was to pay. If AmEx opts out of the transaction, there is a good chance that what remains is the underlying agreement for goods or services, waiting for payment. The fact that AmEx found the charge bogus is a good thing to point to in fending off future attempts to collect. It’s definitely something to point to with the BBB (with whom the merchant was most certainly untruthful) and the state attorney general. But we definitely need more facts to know the extent to which the chargeback operates to void the underlying agreement.

  50. pelonco says:

    I agree that the company is not necessarily behaving in a sleazy manner. CC Companies’ charge back rules are designed to heavily favor cardholders many of whom regularly work the system to obtain free goods and services. Merchants often have no recourse other than collections when CC companies blindly side with cardholders. Without hearing the details, I think it’s just as likely this complaintent was able to steal with the assistance of American Express whatever services he charged back.

  51. baristabrawl says:

    Clearly whomever this company he does business with has his address and is capable of direct billing. If it were Target or K-Mart like then they couldn’t send him things to his house….right?

    Or did I read it wrong?

  52. el_smurfo says:

    I wonder if the OP is holding back on the identity as additional leverage against the company? Once it’s published here, they really have nothing to lose and no incentive to resolve the issue to the poster’s statisfaction.

  53. steve says:

    Pylon’s analysis without knowing more detail is good enough– restitution claim for the merchant on a partial breach. Are you in law school Pylon? Just curious…

  54. Cliff_Donner says:

    IANAL, but I would tend to agree with Pylon83 that AmEx’s decision to allow the chargeback is not the final, “legal” say in the matter. If the company chooses to continue to pursue payment, they may be jeopardizing their standing with AmEx, but I would hope a court would evaluate the case on its merits, and not just defer to AmEx.

    That said, the OP needs to get documentation from the BBB that the company has stated on the record that this matter is “resolved” — preferably, the company’s original letter to the BBB, if this was communicated in writing. With this in hand, I would think it’d be a slam-dunk win for the OP if the matter went to court.

  55. jimconsumer says:

    Write “FUCK OFF” on the bill and mail it back. When the collection agency calls, follow the appropriate steps (found all over the Internet) to properly inform them that the debt is not valid and you do not owe it. If they ding your credit report anyway, sue their ass for illegally reporting an invalid debt. This is all very easy to do.

  56. Pylon83 says:

    @jimconsumer:
    Very easy, and very incorrect. The merchant can probably easily prove the debt is valid. Amex’s decision won’t be dispositive in court.

  57. Ein2015 says:

    Okay this is killing me… what company is it???

  58. karlmarx says:

    If I was in this situation, this particular transaction with this merchant in my opinion has ended, your payment to them was through your AMEX and because of what occured AMEX ruled that their services based on their merchant agreement with AMEX were wrong and returned the charge to you. Your interaction in regards to payment with this merchant was through AMEX, and I dont think the merchant should be able to contact you directly you paid with your AMEX. I would call your state Attorney General

  59. cheviot says:

    Sigh. I really wish it was so, but just because AMEX says you don’t have to pay doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay at all, just that you don’t have to pay with Amex.

    Kinda like if you put a stop payment on a check. You still owe them the money, it’s just that your bank agreed not to pay the check.

  60. joellevand says:

    What others have said: contact the AG and BBB again, and good luck!

  61. Trojan69 says:

    Just as consumers agree to waive legal rights and accept binding arbitration, so too, can merchants in their agreements with third party payees, aka credit card companies.

    By accepting the terms of their merchant agreement, it may well be the case that they must abide by any chargeback ruling. I’d bet money on this.

  62. Cliff_Donner says:

    @Trojan69: Completely standing by what I said earlier, Trojan I bet you’re right. Still — as previously stated, IANAL — legally, can the OP rely upon the terms of a contract to which he was not a party (i.e., that between AmEx and the company) to protect him if AmEx decides to pursue him directly?

  63. Cliff_Donner says:

    D’oh!, instead of “if AmEx decides to pursue him directly,” I meant, “if the company decides to pursue him directly.”

  64. Pylon83 says:

    @Cliff_Donner:
    No, he can’t rely on their contract to protect him. I don’t think you could make the case that the consumer is a true third-party beneficiary to the contract. I would take any of your bets that the Amex ruling controls. Amex is not an adjudicative body, and their determination means nothing more than they won’t pay the merchant. As stated above, it’s no different than stop-paying a check. Just because the bank decides not to honor the check does not extinguish the debt. Too many arm-chair lawyers on here with no legal training or knowledge to back up their wild assertions of the law.

  65. rellog says:

    @cheviot: I isn’t the same as a check. In the case of a check, the company didn’t enter into an agreement with a third party and the terms that are included in said agreement. I am no lawyer, but it would seem that there could very well be binding clauses that prohibit the very action the company has taken.
    I’m not saying it is set in stone, but it is a very real possibility.

  66. rellog says:

    @Pylon83: So does this mean that you are a lawyer? If so, I’d be interested in knowing the statues that would apply here.

  67. rmric0.wedding.photographer.and.manny says:

    I think that in all this discussion on chargebacks we seem to have forgotten the latter part of the post (taking Ilan on his word for the moment).

    After the chargeback, the company told the BBB that the matter was resolved. Subsequently they received a bill dated after the case was closed, which would seem to me to be pretty good evidence that the bill was sent out in bad faith. That the company hasn’t responded to any further attempts to contact them reinforces that.

    Now there could be some details omitted, but on the face of it the consumer appears in the right.

  68. Pylon83 says:

    @rmric0:
    Admissions to the BBB are not going to be binding in court, if it comes to that. It’s not a judicial admission, which would be binding. It may be persuasive, but it won’t be binding on them. If they can explain it away to the satisfaction of the finder/trier of fact, it will be essentially irrelevant.

  69. Pylon83 says:

    @rellog:
    No, I’m not a lawyer. But notice how carefully I chose my words “Legal Training and legal knowledge”. I do possess those.
    Further, a clause in a contract between Amex and the merchant will not operate to affect the rights between the merchant and the consumer. Sure, Amex could sue the merchant for breach of any such provision, but it won’t prohibit the merchant from collecting from the customer, they may just have to pay some sort of fine, if Amex can prove they were actually damaged by violation of that provision. Again, the consumer is not 3rd party beneficiary to the contract between Amex and Merchant. There is no pecuniary benefit that is to be conveyed to the consumer that would allow it to operate as such. Further, I’m not even sure that “all amex cardholders” can be considered a 3rd party beneficiary even if the facts worked in that favor. It’s too broad of a group that is not specifically identified in the contract.

  70. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    Re-open the case with the BBB. Then contact the state attorney general.

  71. @compuwarescc: Indeed, so we know what company to avoid…

  72. Cliff_Donner says:

    @Pylon83: Wasn’t sure if you were directing this entire post at me, but I didn’t mean to suggest that I thought that “the Amex ruling controls” — in fact, thought I’d expressed just the opposite. I just meant to agree with Trojan69 that it’s likely that the merchant agreement with the CC company includes language that compels the company, as a condition of using their payment service, to agree with any chargeback ruling that the CC company makes. (Anybody know if this is truly the case?) This would only help the OP if AmEx chose to make itself a party to any “litigation” that the company filed against the OP. If AmEx chose to wash their hands of the affair, the terms of AmEx’s merchant agreement with the company wouldn’t help the OP.

    I would also agree with you that “Admissions to the BBB are not going to be binding in court,” but I can’t see how they can “explain it away” without appearing to be a bunch of shifty, lying dirtbags.

    Thanks for your contributions to this discussion, you bring an interesting perspective.

  73. guymandude says:

    For the 20 billionth fucking time… this is called FEDERAL MAIL FRAUD. It’s a felony to send an improper demand for money through the USPS. Take them to federal court.. case closed.

  74. Pylon83 says:

    @guymandude:
    Yes, but if you would read the comments, you would see that it’s unlikely that the demand for money was improper. They likely have a good-faith belief that they are owed the money. And an individual can’t sue for mail fraud, as it’s a crime, not a tort. You have to get the Government to charge them with it.

  75. guymandude says:

    @Pylon83: So what? Do you know how many companies I have caused to quake with fear by calling up, asking for a supervisor, asking for their employee ID, telling them I was recording the phone call to be used as evidence and did they know what Federal Mail fraud was? So go home whiner. Either turn around and bend over like the other lemmings or go strong to the hole. Your choice. SO either STFU and quit your bitching or handle it. There is no middle ground.

  76. mbd says:

    In general, credit card agreements requiring the merchant to accept the credit card issuer’s charge backs are written and intended to prevent the merchant from suing the credit card issuer, not the consumer.

  77. Pylon83 says:

    @guymandude:
    Wow. That was a rather inappropriate, and nonsensical comment. Perhaps you should grow up and learn to handle situations without involving emotion, as you get alot further. And good for you, being able to intimidate phone reps who don’t know any better, what a big man you are.

  78. ndonahue says:

    @Pylon83: I too am not a lawyer, but perhaps you can help me by answering this question:

    Why can this event not be construed as two independent transactions with transaction 1 occurring between the seller and AMEX, and transaction 2 occurring between the AMEX and the card holder?

    The seller agreed to the transaction in good faith that AMEX would reimburse them for the value of the good/service provided. Similarly, AMEX was willing to play that intermediary role because they have a good faith belief that their card holder will reimburse them for expenses incurred (plus associated fees and charges).

    A test of this two transaction model might be to ask “What is the seller’s liability to AMEX in the event the card holder refuses to pay their bill?” If the answer is that the seller has no liability, then how can one argue that there is only one transaction between the seller and the card holder?

  79. ndonahue says:

    @cheviot: I don’t think this situation is analogous to the canceled check analogy because a check is a promissory note between the check writer and the check recipient. A credit card slip is effectively a promissory note between the card holder and the credit card company.

  80. karlmarx says:

    I am not a lawyer, but when you sign for a credit card transaction there is a disclosure where you sign stating

    “I agree to pay the above total according to the card issuer agreement”

    To me that means you are authorizing AMEX to pay the total charges in accordance with your card holder agreement, and their agreement with the merchant, therefore, if AMEX determined that the merchant for some reason failed to meet their merchant obligation thats between the merchant and AMEX. You agreed to pay the total via AMEX based on your terms as a cardholder, not directly to the merchant

  81. dveight says:

    @guymandude: Jesus Christ man, Pylon83 is just stating the facts. Just because you call it mail fraud for the “20 billionth fucking time” does not mean it is.

  82. hatrack says:

    @Kajj:

    Good one!

  83. forgottenpassword says:

    I was told by a citibank rep that if this happens … to just do another chargeback. I had a problem with a dirtbag company (hometowncandy.com) ripping me off & had to do my first chargeback ever. I was worried that they’d just charge me again later. I was told by a citi-rep that once you authorize a merchant to recieve payment via your card… that they can charge you again later. Sounds like an insane policy.

  84. guymandude says:

    @Pylon83: Go home whiners. All of you. This works and it works well. If you’re not ready to do what needs to be done then STFU and go home. This issue has come up repeatedly and yet you lemmings still refuse to understand the nature of the transaction. So enjoy getting pounded in the ass by big business. It’s idiots like you guys that enable them to pull this nonsense in the 1st place. Well done!

  85. smokinfoo says:

    This was a pretty damn vague post. To me when someone is being vague they are not telling the entire story on purpose, usually to benefit their side of it.

    I can’t pass judgment on this without knowing more about the situation.