Buyer Beware: Disputing credit card charges

(National) Jan. 18, 2005 - Rocco Ranetta, runs his own contracting business. Reading blueprints is easy compared to the effort it took to get a bogus charge removed from his credit card bill.

The charge was for a down payment on a vehicle. The sale did not go through, but the $2000 charge did until Rocco wrote repeatedly to his credit card company, "What it actually took was three letters, about four hours of phone calls and the last phone call was about an hour and forty-five minutes."

Kim Kleman, with Consumer Reports, says other credit card charges can be even harder to dispute, "Many people think if you pay by credit card and you end up with poor quality junk that the credit card company owes you a refund. And that's not necessarily true. You're much better off trying to return the item or exchange it"

If that doesn't work, write the merchant describing the problem. Kleman says send the letter certified return receipt request and send a copy of that letter to your credit card company, "You need to act fast. Your credit card company needs your dispute letter within 60 days of the date your statement was issued."

You have a better chance of resolving a credit card dispute if you:

  • Put the dispute in writing.
  • And enclose a copy of your receipt.
  • Always keep the original receipt yourself in case the paperwork gets lost.

Kleman says sending original documents is a big mistake, "When you send your dispute letter, don't make the mistake that many people do and send it with your bill. What you have to do is send it to the special address for disputes that's listed on your statement."

As Rocco learned, resolving a credit card dispute takes persistence, but, if you do it right, your efforts can pay off.

Once your credit card company has investigated your dispute, if you're not happy with how the matter is resolved, there is another step you can take. Write the president of the company that issued your card and ask for an escalated investigation.

Reported by Judi Gatson
Posted 6:01pm by BrettWitt

Copyright © 2005 Consumers Union of US, Inc. All Rights Reserved.