Card dispute over shipping charges

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Card dispute over shipping charges

Postby ccmonger » Mon Mar 04, 2013 9:27 am

Not sure if this belongs in this part of the forum... I feel like I'm a fraud victim, but so far the CC company doesn't agree...

I recently made an online purchase from a merchant I have used before with no problems. This time, I purposely made the order just over $100 because they offered free shipping on such orders.

I order a lot of stuff online. It's sometimes a bit complicated because I have a PO box and USPS doesn't deliver to my house. If I can determine that a merchant is going to use USPS, I normally use my PO box as the shipping address, otherwise, for private carriers, I use my residential address. Sometimes, if a merchant provides for a message with the order, I'll use the PO box as the ship address and add a note to ship to the residence if shipping by private carrier.

Lately most online merchants have started to catch the PO box when I place the order, and if they can't ship to it, not accept the order. I like it this way because then I know for sure to use the residence address. In this case, as it turns out, the merchant DOES ship to PO boxes but does not apply free shipping to those orders.

Since I had used this merchant before, I got a little careless and just went through the order using the PO box and didn't bother to add a message about using the other address if necessary.Because of what transpired, I'm not sure that would have mattered anyway. I completed the order and printed a copy of the receipt which clearly stated 'Free Shipping'.

Shortly thereafter, I received an email confirmation showing the full order with free shipping, just as I had placed it. About 12 hours later(1:12 AM!), I got an email from the merchant with the same title. I saw that in my inbox the next morning and didn't bother to open it. Unfortunately I assumed it was just an update with the tracking number. Turns out it was actually a duplicate of the previous confirmation with the $29.75 charge added.

When I received the order a couple of days later, I looked at the packing slip and it looked like the original email confirmation but it had a $29.75 shipping charge added to it. I assumed this was just some kind of mistake and called the merchant's customer service department. I was assured the shipping charge would be refunded. Shortly thereafter I received an email that simply said(1 sentence) that free shipping is not available to PO boxes and the charge would stand.

I opened a dispute with the CC company and sent them a copy of the original receipt. They initially decided in my favor. Then, the merchant responded with some text about their shipping policy and a copy of the packing slip with the added $29.75 charge. The CC company then reversed itself and decided in the merchants favor!

I responded with another letter complaining that I had never agreed to the $29.75 shipping charge and once again sent a copy of the original receipt plus the email confirmation. I also mentioned that I felt the problem was that the merchant's web site didn't properly enforce enforce their business rules. Of course I also complained a lot about the CC company failing to protect my account from unauthorized charges. Haven't heard back yet but I'm not optimistic at this point.

I know $29.75 isn't a big deal and I'm preparing myself to write it off if necessary. But I do feel like I'm being screwed, I never would have placed the order with the shipping charges, in fact I would have just used the residence address. But what really burns me is that the CC company isn't backing me up, I think just the receipt should be enough(I have never filed a dispute before, had this card for 20 years!).

To top it off, after I sent my last response keeping the dispute open, the CC company sent me notification that they are informing the credit reporting bureaus that I'm continuing the dispute!

Many thanks to anyone who has read through all of this, I would love to hear your opinions.

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Postby Gamma » Mon Mar 04, 2013 9:13 pm

That sucks they sent you another email adding $29.75 to your total amount. Did you check to read the fine print they had, if any? Maybe they had exclusions for the free shipping. If not, the credit card company should go in your favor.

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Postby ccmonger » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:47 am

I didn't. That's why I'm prepared to write this off if necessary.

What shocked me most about this was the idea that I could agree to a transaction and an amount, seemingly get agreement to same from the merchant, then find that the merchant charged my card more than the agreed to amount. Seems like they should have gotten my agreement before shipping the order at a different price, and the idea that they could bury something in the fine print that allows them to arbitrarily change what they charge my card seems like some sort of scam to me. Am I wrong?

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Postby Square Obsidian » Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:28 pm

If you called into the institution where I work to report the charge as fraud, we would kindly ask you to explain the situation. After which, we would tell you because you provided the information to the merchant we would need to file the charge as a dispute due to the fact that you provided your information to the merchant. The only instance in our case in which we can report a charge where you, the customer, provided the card information, is when the company is established with the intent to defraud or scam the individual. Such as offering a product or service inorder to use the obtained information for other purposes. In your case the merchant failed to properly label the contingencies of their "free shipping" service which caused the price of the purchase to change to an amount not previously agreed upon. It is almost text book dispute. At least by how I was trained, though it varies per financial institution since they all have different procedures.
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