When you overpay your credit card, should you be able to get a refund? One Arizona family accidentally paid their Kohl’s credit card bill twice, but the retailer refused to refund their $1,500, even though Kohl’s policies and federal regulations require it.
3TV News’ “3 On Your Side” in Arizona reports that the couple had decided to pay off their $1,500 Kohl’s credit card earlier this year, but got their wires crossed on exactly who would make the payment.
As a result, the husband went to the store to pay the bill in cash, while his wife had made a payment online.
“So, there were two payments that came in at the same time,” the man tells 3TV.
Instead of canceling one of the payments, the couple says Kohl’s placed a $1,500 credit on their account.
Unsatisfied with the option, the couple contacted Kohl’s several times. Each time, the retailer refused to return the funds. In one instance, the man says a rep for the retailer told him to simply spend the credit to shop. The couple passed on the suggestion and contacted 3 On Your Side for assistance.
After 3 On Your Side contacted the retailer’s corporate office, the couple says they received an apology and were informed that a $1,500 check was on the way. However, Kohl’s never provided an explanation as to why the refund wasn’t granted sooner.
“I’m really in disbelief. The customer service was horrible. I should have been taken care of a long time ago,” the man says.
What the TV news story on this situation doesn’t explain is that this couple should never have had to jump through all these hoops. Both the Kohl’s credit card agreement and federal law require card issuers to refund credit balances at the cardholder’s request.
Under Regulation Z (Section 1026.11), any time there is a credit balance in excess of $1 on an account, the creditor must credit the balance to the customer’s account. That’s what Kohl’s did.
However, if a customer requests a refund of any part of the credit balance, the company has to provide that refund within seven business days from receipt of a written request from the consumers.
While the couple does not specify if they sent a written request for the refund, they should have been told of this option by Kohl’s support staff.
Additionally, the terms and conditions [PDF] for a Kohl’s credit card explicitly state that cardholders can ask for a refund, but makes no mention of requiring a written request.
Item 18 in that agreement, titled “Credit Balances,” states “You may request a refund of any credit balance at any time. Otherwise, we will apply it to any new charges on your Account or provide the refund to you as required by law.”
Finally, under Regulation Z, if a customer does not request a refund — perhaps they don’t know there is a credit balance — the creditor must make a good faith effort to refund by cash, check, or money order, or credit deposit to an account of the customer any credit balance that has remained in the account for six months. So unless this couple had used up that $1,500 credit in the course of six months, Kohl’s would have had to give them a refund at some point.
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