Credit cards offer a convenient way to pay for your purchases and often reward you for the same. But with this convenience comes a whole new problem where a particular transaction may fail, but you still get charged for it. Or let’s look at another situation – you get back home after shopping and see that a product you bought is damaged (through no fault of your own, of course) or isn’t working like it’s supposed to. Or maybe you’ve paid the down payment for a service but the service is getting delayed or seems unlikely to happen. Is your money gone? What do you do? Consumers all over the world face these problems on a daily basis. If you too are in a situation like this, read on to find out what you can do to get your money back.
Chargebacks Protect Your Purchases
A charge-what? A chargeback. A chargeback is something that allows a credit card user like yourself to raise a dispute regarding a charge made on your card and get the bank to reverse the entire transaction in case something goes wrong with your purchase. The Consumers Association of Singapore or CASE as it is otherwise called has compiled a guide that tells consumers exactly what they need to do in case they face situations where - the goods and/or services they have paid for are not delivered to them, damaged or useless services and/or products are delivered, errors in transactions or purchases made through their credit cards, unauthorised card transactions.
Every credit card transaction generally involves 5 elements – the card member, the card issuer (the issuing bank), the payment gateway (Mastercard, Visa, etc.), the merchant, and the merchant’s bank. Usually, in Singapore, you should register your dispute within 120 days from which the transaction in question took place. The issuing bank then carries out an investigative procedure to find out whether your claim is a genuine one or not. If your dispute claim is not a valid one, it gets rejected. If your claim is valid, the merchant’s bank will deduct the corresponding amount from the merchant and transfer it to your bank. Your bank then credits the money into your account.
Situations That Warrant Chargeback Claims
Let’s take a look at the various scenarios in which you can register for a chargeback.
Issues with goods and/or services:
- You did not receive the goods or services you’ve paid for.
- You got the goods or services but they were defective, not as described, or you’ve returned them.
Errors in Transaction:
- Your transaction has been billed twice, with 2 receipts being created for the same.
- You’ve paid for the transaction through other means (cash, other cards, cheque, etc.) and have still been charged for it.
- Your transaction was processed using the wrong amount or the numbers were changed after completing the transaction, without your approval.
Unauthorised transactions: You did not authorise a transaction that was charged to your card (usually involves lost or stolen cards).
What Course of Action Should You Take?
Once you know that you have a valid claim, you should then be prepared to engage with the other elements involved in the transaction to get your money back or remove the wrongful charge on your credit card.
Get in Touch With the Seller
The first response when your credit card is wrongly charged, or you get defective products or services should be to get in touch with the transacting merchant before going to the bank. See if the issue lies with the merchant or if it’s the bank’s error. Check if the merchant deducted the correct amount on his end or if he has charged your card twice (whether intentionally or not). During this process, you should make sure that you record the communication in writing. The best way would be to communicate via email so that you have proof of all the details involved in the transaction.
Be Prompt in Registering Your Claim
While the old saying does say that good things come to those who wait, it’s probably not the wisest thing to wait for a long time in such scenarios. Most cases require you to register your chargeback claims within 120 days of the date of the transaction in dispute. Don’t mistake this for the date of your card statement. The transaction date is usually a few days before your statement date. Check your statement every month to see if there are any transactions that seem suspicious or you know you have been wrongly billed. Raise your claim with the bank after this. This will give the bank sufficient time to look into the matter and take the corrective steps required to refund your money. Another reason why it’s important to register your claim at the earliest is to avoid any complications with the seller. If the seller shuts shop before he is able to pay you back, you may not be able to get your money back at all.
Hold on to the Product
If you do get a defective product or one that does not match the description originally given by the seller, don’t toss it out. If you intend on making a claim, hold onto it till your claim gets settled. This applies even when you’ve been given a product different from the one you paid for. You need to prove to the merchant and to the bank that you are not responsible for the defect/damage or the wrong product that was delivered to you. Also, retain all the bills and invoices that come along with the product or service, as the case may be. Take photographs of the defective product as soon as you see it to provide further pieces of evidence.
Being a Responsible Shopper Can Help
More often than not, people tend to think that a transaction is complete once they get the product they bought or the service they paid for. While this is true, it would be wise to keep a few things in mind and take a few precautions until you are fully satisfied with what you have bought.
Keep Your Receipts Safe
Many consumers discard the receipts and invoices they get, thinking that they are not useful anymore. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Keeping your receipts with you can be of great help not only for claiming warranty but also to provide proof of purchase in such situations. Most sellers will not accept their own products back if you don’t have a proof of purchase given by them. So, in order to make a valid claim, you will need to present your proof of purchase.
Keep a Record of Your Communication
When you register a claim for chargeback, the burden of providing proof for the claim falls on the buyer, i.e. you. Showing that you have communicated the problem to the merchant will also help to make your case. In such cases, written correspondence is always the best evidence. Therefore, as much as possible, correspond via email so that you have concrete proof of your communication with the seller. Additionally, if you correspond over the phone, write down the content of your conversations and get it verified with the seller.
Check Your Card Statements Thoroughly
Your monthly card statement comes home, you look at the amount due, and you pay it. Does this sound familiar? If you’re someone who does this, we would advise you to go through your statement carefully before you make the payment. Check and see if there are any erroneous transactions that have not been automatically reversed by the bank.
Keep Track of the Services You Use
This is yet another aspect that many consumers don’t really think of. Let’s say you’ve signed up for a service package that gives you various services at different points in time. For example, a gym membership. You make use of the service from time to time thinking that the service provider will keep a record of all the times you’ve used it. Just to be on the safe side, you should also keep track of how many sessions you use, what facilities were given to you, and other parameters. This will help you present a strong case if the service stops in between or if you’re not being given what you paid for.
Q. How many types of credit cards disputes are there?
A. Broadly put, there are 2 types of it. The first category is one in which the buyer has authorised the transaction and paid for it but there is a problem with the services rendered or the goods purchased. The second category is one in which the buyer has not authorised the transaction and it was done without his knowledge or against his will.
Q. If I want to register a dispute with my bank, how do I do it?
A. If you want to lodge a claim with your bank, you need to get in touch with them through the customer care hotline and register your dispute.
Q. How long should I wait before I register a dispute claim?
A. The wisest thing to do would be to contact your bank as soon as you see something amiss. Most banks in Singapore expect you to submit the required form for dispute resolution within 2 weeks from the date on which you get your statement.
Q. How long does it usually take for a bank to resolve a dispute claim?
A. The time your bank will take for dispute resolution depends on how complex your case is. The resolution is passed only after a thorough investigation which can take up to 4 weeks for simple cases and up to 12 weeks for the more complex ones.
Q. What can I do to speed up the process?
A. The time taken to resolve your dispute depends on the complexity of the case. However, you can do your part to resolve it at the earliest by cooperating with the bank officials and other investigating parties, and by providing all the required documents on time.
Q. What is expected of me as a consumer?
A. It is important to be aware of what you’re buying and know what the terms and conditions of the sale are. If you want to register a dispute, make sure you do so within the timeframe given to you (i.e. 120 days in most cases). Retain all important documents, receipts, and correspondence relating to the transaction. If you lose your card or if it gets stolen, get in touch with the bank that issued your card and block it right away to prevent unauthorised use.