A reader who works in the chargeback section of a major credit card company has just about had enough with people tossing around “chargeback! chargeback!” as the solution to every customer service problem. While it is a great tool, you gotta make sure you use it right. To help you do that, here’s our credit card company insider’s guide to the top 10 reasons why your chargeback will get rejected.
Remember, the merchant does have a chance to rebut these things. If you tell us that you ordered widget A but received widget B but have no proof, and the merchant sends proof that you actually ordered widget B, you’ll probably be getting rebilled!
9. THE CHARGE IS TOO OLD
Please, please check your statement every month. We work within very limited timeframes, and, technically, you are required to notify us of a dispute (in writing! Just calling in doesn’t obligate us to do anything), within 60 days of the statement date the charge appears on. Visa gives some extensions: non-receipt and quality. With quality, you have to show you’ve been working with the merchant consistently to resolve the problem. MasterCard pretty much only gives extensions on non-receipt.
8. NOT GETTING A SECOND OPINION LETTER FOR CHARGEBACKS OVER $100
If you’re disputing the quality of something over $100.00 or so, it pays to get a second opinion letter. Within reason, of course. If you’re disputing the quality of a repair, on the other hand, you pretty much have to have one. These need to be on a merchant’s letterhead and have actual details about your dispute. “Car still broken,” will get you started, but if the merchant sends a rebuttal it’s probably not going to fly.
7. YOU BOUGHT IT IN FRANCE
The lovely consumer protections we enjoy in the U.S. do not follow you across our borders. If you buy something overseas, the burden is on you to return the item and prove it the merchant accepted the return before we can do anything. International quality disputes? Forget it. Strangely enough, this is the one category that MasterCard is better in as it does not differentiate between domestic and foreign merchants.
6. TRYING TO CHARGEBACK A DIRTY HOTEL ROOM AFTER YOU STAYED IN IT
If you go to a hotel and the room is filthy, leave within 20 minutes and get proof of your checkout, if possible. If you stay the night, you accept the room.
5. NO PROOF YOU MADE THE RETURN BY MAIL
When you return something by mail, GET PROOF OF RETURN. This can not be emphasized enough. Tracking numbers work best, return receipts work as well. When you return something you have the same burden of proof to show the merchant gets it back as they do to show you have it in the first place.
4. FORGETTING THE DATE IT HAPPENED
When asked for dates, please provide them and be as specific as possible. It doesn’t have to be exact, but if you called around the middle of the month, April 15, 2009 is better than April 2009, especially since we’re going to have to call you to get a more specific range and do the same thing anyway. “Don’t remember” is not a valid option.
3. NOT GIVING THE MERCHANT A CHANCE TO FIX THE PROBLEM
Get in touch with them before you get in touch with us. Believe it or not, most merchants are actually on the up and up! If the merchant offers to try to fix whatever problem you have without charging more, you have to give them the chance. If you’re from New York and got your car repaired in Florida, you get back home and the repair isn’t working right, still have to give them a chance.
2. DISPUTING THINGS FOR THE WRONG REASON
It makes things more difficult and makes it more likely that you will lose. Don’t dispute things as “unauthorized” unless you never gave the merchant your credit card number. Don’t dispute things as “non-receipt” if the merchant did do something but you didn’t get the results you wanted.
1. USING MASTERCARD
With Mastercard (MC) the burden of proof lies on you. If you buy something face-to-face, get home and realize that it’s not as described, you’re out of luck entirely as you had a chance to examine the merchandise. Also, with MC it’s entirely up to you to know the merchant’s cancellation/return policy, even if they don’t disclose it. They didn’t tell you that you couldn’t cancel after three days? Too bad. Seriously, just use a Visa. It’s easier for everyone.