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A consumer guide to using credit card disputes properly

It's hard to find a category for this, but here is a fairly comprehensive guide to credit card disputes and their proper use (including pitfalls of improper use) from Elliott Advocacy:
https://www.elliott.org/ultimate-consumer-guides-smart-travelers/credit-card-disputes-how-to-use-them-the-right-way/

I see a fair amount of bad advice given on the forum in regard to credit card disputes. For example, the knee-jerk response of some seems to be to dispute charges with a credit card company over anything. As Dwight Schrute would say, "False." The Fair Credit Billing Act requires consumers to attempt to work things out with the merchant prior to disputing a credit card charge. Plus, you turn your advocacy over to a guy in a cubicle who is trying to work as many disputes as quickly as he can -- best to save that as a last resort.

The article also points out...

Winning doesn’t necessarily mean what you think it means: Many
consumers believe that winning a credit card dispute means the end of
the problem. Unfortunately, this is often not the case and can be just
the beginning of a new and bigger battle. It’s important to remember
the conclusion of a credit card chargeback investigation only ends
your bank’s involvement in the dispute. The FCBA does not require that
the merchant drop the pursuit of the debt if the consumer is the
victor in a chargeback dispute. The company is always free to collect
the debt in other ways — a debt collection service, small claims
lawsuit, or by reporting it to credit agencies. We know that many
major travel providers and cruise lines may not fight a credit card
dispute, but they will pursue the debt elsewhere.

Posted by
95 posts

Interesting and educational article, thanks for posting it.
On somewhat related issue, when I make purchases online from sites that I'm not confident about and don't have a secure form of payment such as PayPal I buy a gift credit card to use on such sites. If something goes wrong such as theft, these cards don't have my personal information and I only lose the dollar amount I loaded to the card.
Happy travels

Posted by
1248 posts

Great advice, but with that being said the consumer should be aware that they only have a limited time to dispute the charge with their financial institution (60 days from that date of the statement on which the charge appears) and with merchants being aware of this they may try to drag out the resolution to cause the consumer to miss that deadline. You should always start with the merchant and if you do not see a satisfactory result within a reasonable time frame contact your bank. The merchant does not want that red mark of a chargeback as too many of those could have a negative affect on their ability to process credit cards. The guy in the cubical is probably an automated process that still needs to adhere to regulatory requirements. Worse thing that could happen is you get the provisional credit from your bank and the merchant issues you a credit, which the bank will see and reverse the credit they gave you. Of course never abuse the dispute process, the credit card company has no obligation to provide you credit should you be a serial disputer and same goes with your debit card, no obligation to provide you with this product if it proves to be unmanageable for you.

Posted by
8 posts

Great advice and one that I have learned the hard way recently. If the company you have a dispute with lies to the credit card company about the nature of the dispute, the credit card company has no means to compel payment from the company. Here is my story:
I purchased a Lufthansa ticket from ASAP Tickets in June 2020. Because of COVID, my flight was cancelled. I had until January 31, 2021 to request a refund or rebook my flight. On January 31, 2021, I requested a refund from ASAP. The ASAP agent informed me that it would take several weeks to receive the money from Lufthansa because of the backlog of refund requests, so I needed to be patient, but I called ASAP every other week to check on the status. Each time I was informed that Lufthansa had not paid them. Then, on April 30, I called Lufthansa directly and they informed me that they had reimbursed ASAP Tickets on 5 February, 5 days after my refund request was submitted. When I confronted ASAP Tickets, they denied receiving the money and then refused to return any of my calls. I filed a dispute with my credit card company and then an agent from ASAP began to call me to negotiate a settlement, offering a future booking credit if I agreed to pay ASAP a $250 processing fee. Then I learned that ASAP told my credit card company that I was not entitled to a refund since I bought a nonrefundable ticket (and not telling my credit card company that, in fact, Lufthansa had reimbursed me for the ticket, but paid it to ASAP and not to me). Sensing that I was dealing with a company that could not be trusted, I relented and agreed they could skim a $250 processing fee from the amount Lufthansa paid them with the future booking credit, if they paid me the rest. ASAP agreed, but told me that it would take 30-40 days to process payment of my refunds. That was 60 days ago. Now, they refuse to pay me anything, claiming Lufthansa never paid them and demanding that I provide them proof that Lufthansa paid ASAP Tickets (something that is impossible for me to prove). So, Lufthansa does the right thing and refunds my ticket, ASAP Tickets keeps all the money for a flight that was cancelled due to COVID, and I realize a loss of the entire ticket price. I have filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission and feel the need to inform other travelers to avoid doing business with ASAP Tickets.