The chargeback process allows you to retroactively cancel a credit card or debit card transaction. The process begins when you file your initial request with the bank that issued you the card.
Visa® and Mastercard® guarantee that you can apply for a chargeback at any time within 120 days from the date of the transaction. Under certain conditions, that period can be extended to up to 540 days. In certain jurisdictions, the law provides you with even more time.
American Express® does not impose any time limit on its cardholders.
The chargeback process begins when a cardholder submits a request to raise a dispute with the merchant to the bank that issued the card. The technical term for your bank is the issuing bank. Once the issuing bank accepts your request, it will raise a dispute with the merchant’s bank. The technical term for that second bank is the acquiring bank. It alerts the acquiring bank through the credit card company’s dispute resolution scheme. The acquiring bank then informs the merchant. In certain cases, the sum you challenge may at this time re-appear in your account as a temporary credit.
Once issuing banks raise disputes, merchants have either 20, 30 or 45 calendar days (depending on the card company) to respond. They do so by submitting a document called a representment. In the representment they will attempt to rebut your reasons for a chargeback. If the merchant does not file a representment, your temporary credit will be re-classified as permanent once the deadline passes. In the event you did not receive a temporary credit, the funds will automatically appear in full in your account at this time.
When the merchant files a representment, however, your bank will receive it in a reverse process. Your bank will then either request that you submit a response to the representment, or it may respond on your behalf. It may do so without notifying you. It also has the right to close the case on its own. If you used a Visa card, the merchant may choose to submit a second representment to rebut your response. In that event, a new period 30 days, known as pre-arbitration, begins. If afterwards the acquiring bank still does not agree to the chargeback, the issuing bank can elect to move to arbitration.
If you used a Mastercard, the merchant has 45 days to respond. Should the merchant submit a representment, the cardholder then has 45 days to rebut it. If the issuing bank allows the cardholder to respond to the representment, the acquiring bank can elect to move directly to final stage of the chargeback process, which is arbitration.
American Express and Discover® (and Diners Club International®, which it owns) employ an internal chargeback process. Merchants have 20 days to respond.
The arbitrators are neutral professionals employed by the credit card companies themselves. They are not parties to the dispute. Their ultimate decision is final. Theoretically the losing side can file an appeal afterwards under exceptional circumstances. Once example of an exceptional circumstance is if the arbitrators clearly base their decision on a misrepresentation of the facts of the case. As a general rule, the bank that loses the dispute will pay for the costs of the arbitration. Not the cardholder.
The entire process, from your initial request to the final resolution, can take up to six months. Our experience is that in most cases it takes three-to-four months.
Finance Watchdog will accompany you throughout this entire cycle.
What makes Finance Watchdog different from other fund recovery firms is the value added service we provide by accompanying you throughout this complicated process. Upon engaging our services, we will ask you to supply us with the following information:
Our financial professionals will then review this material, chart an appropriate strategy and prepare the document you will submit to your bank. Should it be necessary, one of our experienced recovery agents will then join you in as many conference calls with your bank’s dispute department as are necessary. Our recovery agent will explain to your bank why it must initiate your dispute. In the event the merchant challenges your request, we will, of course, prepare a point-by-point response and continue to work with you in pursuing your case.