Credit Card Disputes
Credit cards can often get people into trouble for over-spending, but there can be a lot of unknown benefits for using a credit card. One of the biggest benefits of using a credit card is the protection that it provides you when making a purchase.
When using credit cards it is important to monitor your account activity on a regular basis. Typically a regular basis should be no more than a week. If you see a charge that is not yours, you are well within your rights to dispute it. Also if there is a charge that is not correct, you can also dispute it. In fact, there are many reasons you may dispute a charge other than the charge being fraudulent.
For example, on one occasion my wife and young son were traveling out of the country. I used frequent flyer miles to purchase her ticket, while my son was traveling in her lap. For international flights infants traveling in your lap are required to pay 10% of the adult fare in most cases. I had called the airline and told them about our infant and paid a $50 fee (which I admit did seem low). When we got to the counter, the agent asked for a paper ticket for my son which we did not have. I had no choice but to purchase the ticket for him there at the counter, and I was charged $230, which meant that my wife’s ticket was $2300. The agent told me that was the ticket price today, even though I had purchased my wife’s tickets about 8 weeks earlier. I had to pay the fare because we were leaving. When I got back to the United States I got on the credit card website and disputed a partial amount of that fare on the basis I was overcharged. The credit card company asked for supporting documentation and I had a copy of my wife’s ticket (always keep copies) which showed the tax amount of the ticket. From the tax amount I was able to calculate the actual cost of the fare – which was about half what I paid that morning at the airport. I disputed $115 of the charge and submitted it to the credit card company. After about 6 weeks I got a letter that they ruled in my favor, the airline had failed to provide support evidence on their charge.
The way a dispute works is that the credit card company acts as the mediator to rule on the dispute. The credit card company will ask for information from both you and the merchant who sold you the product or service. The credit card company will give each party a limited amount of time to provide the information, and then they will review the case and rule on it. This process takes anywhere from 6-8 weeks, however, they suspend the charge on your account so you do not have to worry about paying it or being charged interest while the charge is under dispute.
The key to being successful in a credit card dispute is clearly stating why you are disputing the charge and providing successful documentation about your case. In the case of my ticket, I clearly had supporting evidence. Also, keep your information clear and to the point – the credit card company does not care about your personal situation, only the facts. If you go to your credit card account on the web, you can usually see a link for disputing a charge. If you cannot find it, call the credit card number on the back of your card.
The ability to dispute a charge is a protection offered to the buyer by the credit card company for using the card. It should not be abused or used improperly. However, if you do find yourself in a situation where you were unfairly charged or fraudulently charged, you should take advantage of the opportunity to dispute the charge – it may just end up in your favor.