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Shopping With Credit Cards

By: Financial Hotline
Fall 2018 (Vol. 36, No. 3)

Q: What can I do if I am dissatisfied with a credit card purchase?

A: If you have made a good faith effort to work out the problem with the seller, you have the right to withhold from the card issuer payment for the merchandise or services.

You have the right to have mail and phone order purchases shipped when promised, or to cancel for a full and prompt refund. If no shipping date is stated, your right to cancel begins 30 days after your order and payment are received by the merchant. If you cancel, the seller has one billing cycle to tell the card issuer to credit your account.

There are two exceptions: (1) If a company doesn’t promise a shipping time, and you are applying for credit to pay for your purchase, the company has 50 days after receiving your order to ship. (2) Spaced deliveries, such as magazine subscriptions; items that continue until you cancel (e.g. book or record clubs, etc.); C.O.D. orders; services; and seeds or growing plants are not covered.

You have the right to a full refund--because of shipping delay--within seven working days (or one billing cycle) after the seller receives your request to cancel. You may also refuse a delivery of damaged or spoiled items. If there is obvious damage to a package and you choose not to accept it, write “REFUSED” on the wrapper (at time of delivery) and return it unopened to the seller.

Q: If someone steals my credit card, how much am I liable for?

A: If you report the loss before the card is used, federal law says the card issuer cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized charges. If a thief uses your card before you report it missing, the most you will owe for unauthorized charges is $50. This is true even if a thief is able to use your credit card at an automated teller machine (ATM) to access your credit card account. Of course, always report the loss of your card as soon as possible.