I lost a $582 credit card dispute, then filed it with a complaint to this agency

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When my dispute was denied, a simple online complaint form helped me get my money back.


Key points

  • My credit card company rejected my dispute, so I filed a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
  • After two months, my card issuer reviewed the file and refunded me the full amount.

One of the advantages of paying by credit card is that if the merchant does not fulfill their part of the contract, you can dispute the charge. Your card issuer investigates and if you win the case, you get a refund.

While credit card disputes tend to be fine if you have a strong case, I recently learned firsthand that things sometimes go wrong. I rented an apartment through Booking.com that looked nothing like the pictures. Booking.com wouldn’t refund me, so I filed a dispute with Chase.

I thought it was a slam dunk, but after months of waiting, Chase closed my case in favor of the merchant. It was extremely frustrating to say the least – I paid $582 for a rental which I left and tried to cancel. Fortunately, I found an agency that could help me.

Why I initially lost my credit card dispute

I disputed the charges because the house rental I received did not match the photos or description on Booking.com. I had plenty of evidence, including:

  • screenshots of the ad on Booking.com, including photos and description
  • photos of the current apartment
  • a video showing the whole apartment
  • screenshots of a conversation in which the host said she would refund me

While it’s good to have evidence to support your claim, many card issuers don’t include a way to add that evidence during the dispute process. Instead, you submit your dispute with your version of events, then wait for the merchant to respond. That’s how it works when you dispute a charge with Chase, at least if you do it online.

So I waited and Booking.com responded to Chase saying the charge was valid. I called Chase to explain my position and offered to send him my mountain of screenshots, photos and videos. To my surprise, the rep told me they didn’t use any photos or videos, and he resubmitted the claim with just my explanation of what happened.

This omission of photos and videos turned out to be crucial – I lost the case. When I called to follow up I learned from a rep other than Chase Is accept photo and video evidence. But by then it was too late to add anything or reopen my file.

Losing a dispute that you should have won is a huge disappointment. I even considered canceling my Chase credit cards out of frustration. But I thought there might be a way to get someone to take a second look, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) seemed to be able to help.

Filing a complaint with the CFPB

The CFPB is an agency that ensures that consumers receive fair treatment from financial institutions. If you feel like you’re at an impasse with customer service, the CFPB may be able to help. Here is how to file a complaint with the CFPB:

  • Go to the CFPB “Submit a Complaint” page.
  • Click on “Start a new complaint”.
  • Sign up for an account.
  • Complete the five-step complaint form.

Provide as much supporting information and evidence as possible. After you file your complaint, the CFPB notifies the company. The financial institution reviews it and sends a response through the CFPB.

In my case, the complaint caused someone higher up the ladder at Chase to listen to a recording of my call to the litigation team. They confirmed that I had received incorrect information about Chase not using evidence. As a result, they apologized and credited my account with $582.

You might be wondering if it would work when the card issuer doesn’t erred in the challenge process. Although nothing is guaranteed, it is always worth it. By filing a complaint, you will at least get a fresh look at your case, and credit card companies take these complaints seriously.

How to Win a Credit Card Dispute

A credit card dispute is a valuable tool when a merchant breaches the terms of a purchase, but it’s not automatically decided in your favor. To maximize your chances of success, here are some tips on how to dispute a credit card charge:

  • Obtain as much evidence as possible to support your claim. Photos, screenshots, tracking data, and any other concrete information prevent your dispute from becoming a “he said, she said” situation.
  • First try to resolve it with the merchant. Disputes are meant in case a trader won’t budge, it’s not a first option.
  • File your dispute in a timely manner. You usually have 60 days, and if you miss this window, your card issuer may not accept your dispute.
  • Consider calling to file your dispute or following up by phone if you submit it online. It’s often easier to explain the situation this way, and you can offer to send whatever evidence you have.

If you do all of this and your dispute is valid, there’s a good chance you’ll get your money back.

My situation took a while to resolve, but it made me appreciate what consumer protection organizations like the CFPB can do. And while I was definitely not happy with Chase, it worked things out in my favor after my complaint.

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