There are several beneficial reasons to use a credit card to pay for items. Not only is it convenient, but the federal government has laws that protect the consumer for certain situations with credit card companies. If you make a purchase with a credit card and have problems with the item, you have recourse through the Fair Credit Billing Act. You can dispute a credit card charge for damaged goods received as long as your purchase fits specific requirements of the law. With a little luck, you’ll get a full refund and you can move on to more retail therapy.
Contact the merchant to discuss the problem. Visit the store if it’s a brick-and-mortar, taking the defective item with you to discuss the issue. If you made the purchase by telephone or online, start by checking your bill of sale or receipt to find a customer service number. Speak with a representative and describe the damage to the item you received. If necessary, take a digital photo and email it to the company to prove your claim. Ask the representative to either send you a new item or refund your purchase price in full.
Write a letter to the merchant if a telephone call doesn’t resolve the problem. Include your full name, address, the name of the company, the address, and any account or transaction number. Explain the dispute by including a description of the item, the price of the item, the purchase date and the damage to the item. Ask the merchant to either send you a replacement item or refund the purchase price. Enclose a copy of your receipt or bill of sale and any photos you’ve taken of the damaged item. Sign the letter, make two copies for your records, include the enclosures with the original letter and send the letter by certified mail with a return receipt requested.
Check the details of your purchase to make sure your purchase qualifies for remedy under the Fair Credit Billing Act. To qualify, a purchase needs to be within 60 days of the purchase date, more than $50 and have taken place in your home state (or within 100 miles of your home mailing address). Some credit card companies waive this third requirement – especially for Internet purchases.
Write a letter to the credit card company if your efforts with the merchant fail. Include your full name, address, account number, the name of the credit card company and the credit card company “billing inquiry” address. Add the closing date of your bill with the disputed charge. Describe the dispute, the problems with the item and why you want a refund of your payment. Note that you have attempted to resolve the issue with the merchant but have arrived at a dead-end. Enclose any photos and a copy of the letter you sent to the merchant. Sign the letter, make a copy for your records, enclose the documents and send the letter to the “billing inquiry” address of the credit card company by certified mail with a return receipt requested.
- The credit card company will investigate your claim, contacting the merchant and giving the merchant an opportunity to respond. The credit card company will notify you by mail of its decision. If the credit card company sides with you, you won’t have to pay for the damaged item. If the credit card company sides with the merchant, you’ll have to pay for it, along with any finance charges accrued.
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