Sooner or later you will open your monthly business credit card statement and discover that you don't agree with something that has been billed to your business credit card account.
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Your only recourse is to contact the credit card company and dispute the charge. But what happens next?
For many people, the process of contesting a credit card charge usually goes something like this: You call the credit card company, explain the situation, and they either remove the charge or they don't. The decision-making process itself is wrapped in a blanket of mystery.
However, you don't have to feel helpless the next time you run across a small business credit card charge you don't agree with. The process for contesting a questionable charge is fairly standard across the industry, and will require either a phone call, a letter, or both.
Credit Card Charge Disputes by Phone
Your contact with the credit card company should always begin with a phone call. Often a conversation with a customer service representative is all it takes to resolve simple errors like the following:
- The vast majority of disputed charges are the result of cardholder oversights. The information your credit card company provides may jog your memory and quickly resolve any confusion.
- It's possible that the credit card company made a mistake. If a clerical error has occurred, the customer service rep should be able to track it down with minimal difficulty.
- The worst case scenario is that someone has stolen your account number and is making charges to your account. Although fraud scenarios will require additional paperwork, you can de-activate your account by phone and prevent further fraudulent charges.
Credit Card Charge Disputes in Writing
If a disputed charge can't be resolved by phone, you will have to write a letter of dispute. Letters of dispute should be sent separately from your monthly payment and must be received within 60 days of the time you receive the statement containing the contest charge.
- Unauthorized charges, such as automatic charges, require a written letter detailing the basis of the dispute. The letter should also be accompanied by receipts and other evidence to support your dispute.
- Occasionally, credit card companies tack on added expenses that you didn't know about and didn't authorize. The practice is known as cramming, and may include charges for bill-stuffer insurance promotions, etc. Firmly insist that you did not approve the charge and demand that the entire amount be refunded to your account.
- If a vendor or supplier never delivered goods you paid for in advance, you have the right to dispute the charge and receive a refund. The vendor should be able to supply a receipt signature for the merchandise. If he can't, your charge will be refunded.
- From time to time, you might also encounter a charge for merchandise you and should have received a credit for. Simply include the return receipt with your dispute letter to have the charge removed from your account.