Money To Live

January 21, 2009

Disputing a credit card charge

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

Back in October, I wrote about my dispute over an “appearance package” that was included in the cost of my new car, and I want to let you know how that ended.

When filing away my papers, I remembered that the invoice had a charge of $595 for an “appearance package,” which I was told included wheel locks, mud flaps, floor mats, and a custom paint job.  The next time I went to my car, I noticed no mud flaps, no floor mats, and no custom paint job. In the flurry of paperwork and driving away my new car, I had not noticed they did not deliver the “appearance package” (except for the wheel locks, which were included).

After two and a half months, the dispute has been settled. It took four rounds of paperwork:

  1. I sent forms to the credit card company
  2. The dealership sent forms to the credit card company
  3. I sent new forms to the credit card company
  4. The credit card company sent “pre-arbitatration” forms to the dealership.

When the dealership received the pre-arbitration forms, they were finally ready to settle with me, and they agreed to refund about $520; I agreed to pay parts and installation for the wheel locks.

Now that the situation is resolved, here are my thoughts:

When you have the money to cover the bill, pay for large purchases with a credit card. Had I paid by check or debit card, the dealership would have had no reason to talk to me, and my only means of recourse would have been to go to small claims court.

Documentation is crucial. I kept track of who I talked to and what was said. At every step of the way, the dealership changed some version of the story and lied to me or the credit card company. I just kept responding with my version of events and pointed out that the dealership was not being truthful.

The credit card company did not take my side in the dispute. All they did was convince the dealership to communicate with me.

Filing and settling a dispute takes a long time. I thought it would take a few weeks to settle everything, not a few months. During that time, I did not have to pay the disputed amount. The credit card company put this amount “on hold.” When the dispute was settled, the dealership refunded about $520 to my credit card, and the credit card company rebilled the original charge to my account.

Next time, I will stay calmer and spend less emotional energy during the process. All I had to do was keep submitting forms and documenting what happened. A merchant does not want to go to arbitration, which is the ultimate result of such a dispute. When the merchant sees you are not going to give up, they are more likely to settle.


1 Comment »

  1. Way to go! But that sounds awful. It’s good to keep in mind that paying with a credit card is the way to go. Did you pay the entire price of the car with a credit card and then your car loan check went to your credit card? Or did you not have a car loan?

    Comment by Shannon — January 21, 2009 @ 11:39 am |Reply

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