How NOT to Dispute a Credit Card Charge

by Mike on February 22, 2010

Every once in a while I like to flip the script. Sure, I could tell you how to dispute a credit card charge but I figured it would be more fun to tell you what NOT to do. This is based on a true story where I was the creditor. When I’m not writing about my personal finance journey I’m probably planning a conference. A couple years ago on the day of my conference I received a phone call. I’ll recap it from memory and I’ve changed the name to protect the not-so-innocent:

Time: 6am CST / Thursday morning

(Note: The conference we’re discussing started at 7pm that day)

Ring

Me: Good morning this is Lakita
Disputing Debra: Hello, is it too late to register for the conference
Me
: Not at all, were accepting late registrations through tomorrow as long as space is available. You can register online or at the door.

Disputing Debra: OK, where are you located? I want to come to the conference with my daughter…

Me: We’re in St. Louis, MO. Where would you be coming from?
Disputing Debra: We’re in MI…

I forget the exact location, but I “Mapquested” it for her and determined it would have been an 8 hour drive. She decides to go online and register. I didn’t think too much of it because people have driven further than that to come to the event and attendees are from all over the U.S. and beyond. The conference comes and goes and after some much needed rest I return to life as normal. I have a voice mail from Disputing Debra:

(This message was time stamped the following afternoon): Hello, I’ve decided the conference is too far and I would like a refund.

I try to return Disputing Debra’s call a few times. After a few rounds of phone tag, I decided to leave her a message empathetically telling her I could not issue a refund on a no show in order to remain compliant with our refund policy. I asked her to call me if she wanted to discuss in further detail. I did not hear anymore from Disputing Debra until one day I checked my Paypal account:

Reason for Dispute: Unauthorized Payment

Action: Funds recovered from seller

I sent Paypal a screenshot of my registration website with the refund policy, a copy of the phone record showing her initial incoming call to me, and a summarizing note explaining this was buyer’s remorse masked as an unauthorized payment policy designed to protect people from fraudulent activity.

My money was shortly refunded and I never heard from disputing Debra again!

How NOT to Dispute a Credit Card Charge

  • Wait until the last minute to make your purchase…that way you’ll rush and be more likely to regret it in the future.
  • Do not do any research about your purchase. Being a confident buyer is overrated.
  • Do not read the refund policy. It’s a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo that will never be enforced.
  • Do not try to contact the seller or merchant first.
  • Call the bank and tell them it was a fraudulent unauthorized purchase — hope that it will go unnoticed / undisputed by the merchant

Bottom line ~ If you do have a credit card charge dispute make sure it is valid and in line with the merchants refund / return policy. Even if you are outside the boundaries of the refund return policy, some human intervention may get your money back. However, that would be a favor not an entitlement. Under no circumstances should you take advantage of the banks / credit cards fraudulent charge back for a valid purchase. This could get you in trouble.

Have you been on either side of a credit card charge dispute? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 David November 9, 2011 at 10:36 pm

File a complaint with the Florida BBB, be prepared to argue with them as they will perjure themselves and make up all kind of stories about how they helped you. Also file a complaint with the FTC. This is a scam company.

2 Cindy June 23, 2011 at 5:01 am

Have you ever heard of a company called Innovative Wealth Builders.
I have been scammed for $1,395 receiving no goods or services and my credit card sided with them in my dispute. I am brought to tears.
They are saying I didnt try to contact the merchant and I did many times.
I was told by Citi bank to prove it. My calls were all made to 1-800 numbers and the phone co. doesnt keep records of such. Any advice please? I read up on them and they have a BBB rating of a F, they are under investigation by the FTC..yet they still managed to scam me. I am 44 and this is first time I have fallen prey.
Thank you.

3 Ryan February 23, 2010 at 7:21 pm

I’m actually surprised that PayPal sided with you!

I’ve heard so many PayPal horror stories where they refund money just because the buyer decides they no longer want an item.

4 PF Journey February 24, 2010 at 7:03 am

Ryan,
To be honest I was surprised too because of the same stories. It was refreshing to know they would do the right thing. I guess the other lesson to be learned from this story is document everything!

5 PF Journey February 22, 2010 at 9:37 pm

I make sure I know the return policy if I am unsure about a purchase has a significant cost

6 Joe February 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm

I wonder how many people actually read the return policy! I only read if it is a very expensive item.
.-= Joe´s last blog ..Earn Money while sleeping? =-.

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