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For the most part, the major card issuers have gotten incredibly good at handling cases of outright fraud. When my Chase Sapphire Reserve was hacked earlier this year and used to make a $9,000 purchase at the Park Hyatt Maldives, Chase refunded the charge, overnighted me a new card and gave me 5,000 points for the trouble.
There is, however, a much grayer area when you authorize a purchase and in some way or another don’t receive what you pay for. Most credit cards allow you to contest or dispute such charges, but the results vary heavily from case to case and card to card. We recently asked our TPG Lounge readers to share some of their successes and failures with credit card chargebacks, and which cards they think offer the best protection.
All’s Well That Ends Well
Reader Craig M. reminds us that the value of a premium credit card like The Platinum Card® from American Express is often in the customer service and “soft” perks:
“Ticketmaster double charged me for Bruce Springsteen tickets once. They gave me the set I wanted, and another random pair. Ticketmaster said “no refunds,” so I asked Amex to charge back the random pair. Amex inadvertently charged back both sets. When I got to the show and was denied entry, I called the Platinum concierge to complain. Within 15 minutes, there was a pair of front row seats waiting for me at will call, and I was never charged for them.”
Thankfully, Ricardo D. double-checked the dates of his trip before showing up to the airport and was able to get his money back:
“Last chargeback I did was with an airline, Volaris to be exact. They sold me a ticket for a date that didn’t exist. They wouldn’t budge. Amex took care of it within a week.”
Dillon G. was able to defend against a fraudulent chargeback by keeping good records:
“I’ve had luck on both ends as a consumer and business owner. Had a client try to chargeback 7 different times. Long story short, always keep proper documents. They’ll come in handy”
But even without any records, Alex S. was able to stop a waitress from tipping herself:
“Waitress in Miami tacked on her own extra tip after one was already included on our bill of 10 people. Didn’t have the receipt, disputed it with Chase and had a refund notice about 45 days after filing a claim. Very happy having to do hardly any work to get paid back.”
Reader Kelly T. reminds us that even if the chargeback works out in your favor, it might create problems if you try to shop with this merchant in the future:
“I actually got a chargeback from Amex through Venmo. I was scammed by a friend for tickets to a sporting event (I had previously attended sporting events with this person). No tickets and he disappeared. Venmo, per their TOS, wouldn’t refund the money. I called Amex (which is why I have a CC linked to Venmo and not a bank account), refunded me immediately. Venmo has barred me from using their service for disputing a transaction but oh well.”
Left Out to Dry
Unfortunately these cases of fraud, misrepresentation and services being performed incorrectly are tough to verify. Even if you do everything right, there’s no perfect guarantee that the bank will side with you and refund the charge. Reader Jean P. bumped into this exact issue:
“I had a vendor charge us $10k for a print job that they did incorrectly. Wouldn’t give a refund. Tried chargeback. Denied because they “completed the job”. Was an Amex Platinum Biz Card, if memory serves.”
Sometimes a bank or merchant’s individual policies may complicate the chargeback process, as was the case for Ross B:
“I used my Chase Hyatt card for a stay at a Hyatt Place last year. Several days after the stay, a $43 charge appeared on my card from the Hyatt Place. I called to ask what it was for (there were no charges on my statement at checkout) and they agreed to issue a refund without even saying why the charge had appeared. However, they apparently messed something up in the process and managed to issue another $43 charge to the card. I called again and, again, they agreed to reverse it, but apparently entered it as a refund for the first $43 charge (which had already been refunded) instead of the second one. This caused Chase to automatically reject the second refund as a duplicate. Hyatt said I needed to contact Chase to fix this, which I did. I disputed the charge with Chase and gave them the information from Hyatt showing that I was supposed to receive the refund. They initially took the charge off, but then *denied* the chargeback saying that it was a duplicate refund (which I had already fully explained why this was not the case.) When I called again, the phone agent said that there was nothing they could do over the phone since it had been denied and I’d need to send it in in writing. I ended up not getting the refund due to not having time to fool with writing Chase about the whole thing over $43.”
Chargebacks can sometimes take weeks or months to be resolved, and if you have tickets to a concert, like Rachael S., you might not have time to wait:
“Tried to do a chargeback with Ticketmaster after attending a Lady Gaga concert where my seats had a heavily obstructed view. The tickets were not sold as obstructed view and cost the same as any other ticket. It was a very weird situation as the section I was seated in was blocked off on the seatmap as not a valid section sometime between when the tickets were purchased and when I attended months later. But my seats were not moved. Was told by Chase because I attended the show that the vendor technically fulfilled their side of the agreement and the chargeback was denied. Fought back and forth for a while and ended up reporting Ticketmaster to the Better Business Bureau for not adhering to their own obstructed view policy. In the end the BBB got Ticketmaster to refund me.”
If you weren’t already convinced, the mere ability to contest a charge, regardless of the result, is a great reason to always be using credit cards in lieu or cash or checks. We often focus more on the rewards you’ll get for spending on a credit card, but the protections they come with can be incredibly valuable as well.
This is especially true for large purchases or time-sensitive experiences and events where it’s important to get every detail right. While there’s no guarantee a chargeback will work out in your favor, it’s good to know you have some recourse if your purchases aren’t delivered exactly as expected.
Know before you go.
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