How to Get Your Money Back When You’re Denied a Refund

Sometimes a credit card transaction just doesn’t go well. You might receive an item that doesn’t match the description. The item could arrive broken, or your item might never arrive at all.

When there are problems with a transaction, most merchants will work with you to resolve your issue and make you a happy customer. But what can you do if they refuse to give you a refund?

I recently called a merchant for help resolving an issue with a purchase I made. The customer service representative said they had done all they could do and they would not be able to resolve my issue. I asked to speak to a supervisor, and was told that there was no supervisor I could speak with. When a merchant denies your request for a refund, it may seem that there’s nowhere else to turn. But if you used a credit card to pay, you have a powerful tool that you can use — the chargeback. (See also: How to Return Items Through Your Credit Card If the Store Refuses)

What is a chargeback?

Your credit card company can remove a charge from your credit card statement if the charge is fraudulent, was made in error, or if you did not receive the item you were promised. A chargeback can be used to resolve issues with a transaction even if a merchant does not cooperate or respond to your complaint. (See also: 6 Awesome Credit Card Tricks That Will Save You Money)

What are the requirements to pursue a chargeback?

The legal basis for reversing credit card charges in disputed transactions is established by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Some of the basic requirements for disputing a credit card charge and getting a chargeback are:

  • A valid reason to reverse a credit charge such as billing error, fraudulent charge, incorrect item, or damaged item.

  • The customer must dispute the charge within 60 days of when the statement was sent, although some credit card companies have policies that allow customers more time to file a complaint.

  • The credit card company may request that the customer attempt to resolve an issue relating to goods with the merchant first before proceeding to dispute a credit charge.

How long does it take to get your money back?

After you contact your credit card company to dispute a charge, a conditional refund may appear on your statement immediately while the issue is being investigated. If the investigation does not result in overturning your claim, the refund will stand. The investigation can take several weeks to complete while the merchant has the opportunity to produce documentation to substantiate the credit charge. (See also: How to Get a Refund When Something Is Non-Refundable)

How to get a chargeback

Step 1. Document it

Collecting documentation of your issue with a transaction will help you resolve it successfully. If you receive an item that is damaged, take pictures as you unbox it. If you receive the wrong item, take pictures of the item and save screen captures of the item description. Save any invoices and packing slips you received with the package or via email, as well.

Step 2. Contact the merchant

Call or email the merchant to describe your issue and state what you want the merchant to do to fix it. Document your communication with the merchant. Save copies of emails, and for phone calls note the date, time, phone number, name of the person you spoke with, and what the representative said.

Step 3. Initiate a credit dispute

If the merchant does not resolve your issue, contact your credit card company to dispute the credit charge and initiate the chargeback process. You may need to initiate the dispute within 60 days of the purchase, depending on your credit card company’s policy.

Step 4. Document your complaint

Your credit card company may ask you to complete forms describing the reason you are disputing the credit charge and to provide copies of invoices and other documentation to support your complaint. Keep copies of all forms and documents that you provide.

What if the chargeback is rejected?

If the merchant provides evidence that the credit charge was legitimate, the chargeback may be rejected. At this point, the credit charge will reappear on your statement. If you want to take further measures to resolve your issue, you could request a “Claims and Defenses” chargeback if you have an issue with the quality of goods or services that you received on a credit charge.

Depending on the nature of your claim, the next step after attempting a chargeback may be to seek legal advice and contact the merchant again to request resolution. The merchant may be motivated to resolve your issue to avoid a lawsuit if they think you have a strong case.