Tips, News and Advice from Credit Card Assist

Disputing a Credit Card Purchase

by on January 9, 2008

Many people don’t realize it, but there are actually times when you can withhold payment on your credit card.  I’m not talking about going shopping and then just blowing off paying your bill.  More specifically, I’m referring to when you buy something with a credit card and you run into a problem with a purchase you can dispute the charge and withhold payment for it. I’ve outlined a few steps that you can take when disputing and withholding payment for a credit card purchase.

If the item is delivered to you damaged or broken, or the item is of lesser quality than you anticipated, or you just ended up getting the wrong item, you can dispute that charge and withhold payment for that purchase until the issue is resolved. This is exactly one of the reasons why I’m such an advocate for using credit cards. The extra amount of protection you receive can be critical, particularly if the merchant that you’re dealing with is uncooperative.

Of course, if you have a problem with an item that you purchased, you cannot simply refuse to pay for it and expect the credit card issuer to accept your refusal to pay. There are a few things you’ll need to do in order to get the charge cleared from your account and to avoid having to pay for it.

First of all, the complaint you make about the service or item you purchased must be legitimate. In addition, you need to first make an effort to resolve the issue with the merchant on your own before you contact the card issuer. You need to ask the merchant to refund your money, to repair the defective item, or to replace the item with one that you’re satisfied with. Throughout this process, it’s always a good idea to document what you’ve done to resolve the issue and how the merchant responded.

If, after attempting to resolve the issue with the merchant, you are unsuccessful, you can then contact the card issuer directly to dispute the charge. Call the card issuer and explain that you’d like to dispute the charge and that you’re unwilling to pay for that unauthorized charge.

Remember, Federal law gives you the right to deny payment on products or services that are defective. Be certain to keep records of your correspondence if a problem should arise. Also, keep in mind that you can only withhold payment on the item in question, which means you can’t refuse to pay for the purchases made with the card that aren’t being disputed.

In order to take advantage of this added protection, the product or service that you purchase must be more than $50 in value. So technically, you aren’t given the same type of protection if the item or service costs less than $50. Some card issuers however are willing to work with their customers on disputed charges of less than $50. For this reason, it’s still a good idea to check with your card issuer if you have any type of dispute over a purchase with a merchant.

In order to get this protection, you must also have purchased the item in your home state or from someone located within 100 miles of your mailing address. When it comes to mail order items, you need to look at where the processing office is located rather than the warehouse in order to determine if you will be protected.

Withholding payment within these guidelines means that your credit report should not suffer. Nonetheless, some credit card companies may still report you to the credit bureaus. So it’s still a good idea to check your credit report afterwards and to make sure it wasn’t reported. If it has been reported, be certain to contact the credit bureau with all of your documented information so it can be properly removed from your report.

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