Disputing A Credit Card Charge For Defective Merchandise Skip to main content

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Disputing A Credit Card Charge For Defective Merchandise


Apart from the more typical fraudulent charges and billing errors, a common situation leading to credit disputes concerns purchase protection. This comes into play when you make a big ticket purchase from a merchant, charge it to your credit card, and then receive the good…only to discover that it is defective. Under federal law, you will be able to dispute the charge if the purchase was for more than $50 and was made within 100 miles of your home. Even if you don't meet one or both of these requirements, it's worth a try to dispute because not everyone will insist on enforcing the bar, especially if you made the purchase online.

The first step you should take is to contact the merchant and attempt to resolve the dispute directly. The merchant may well accept your complaint and work with you to reach a solution.  If you're not getting anywhere by talking, your next step is to put your complaint in writing and send it to the merchant by certified mail. Keep a copy of this letter, because you may need it later to send to the credit card company if it becomes necessary to file a dispute. The letter should be brief, to the point, and contain all relevant details, including a description of the item and why it is defective. If the written complaint gets you nowhere with the merchant, it's time to turn to the card issuer.

Within  60 days of receiving the bill with the disputed charge, write a letter to the credit card company explaining the situation and why you refuse the charge. Include relevant information such as the date of the bill, where the charge appeared, the transaction number, amount and date of the charge, and descriptions of the item and alleged defect. This letter should be mailed to the billing department of the card company. If you're unsure about where to send the letter, call their card issuer's customer service line and request the appropriate address to submit your dispute.

Once they have the complaint, the credit card issuer may contact the merchant to hear their side of the story, and then make a decision one way or the other. If they decide for you, happy ending, you get your money back. Many card companies will also provisionally remove the charge from your account while the dispute is being resolved. Be aware, however, that sometimes the credit card company will side with the merchant, in which case you will have to pay for the purchase, including finance charges. In order to present your case in the best light, file the complaint promptly and carefully.

As you can see, credit cards can be useful and can provide some level of purchase protection. But if you're weighed down by big bills and maxed out credit cards, more credit is not the answer. Contact a bankruptcy attorney today to find out how to get a fresh start.

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