Visa Charge Dispute: Do They Unfairly Side With Merchants?

Discuss the Visa & MasterCard payment networks as well as cards that operate through them.
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Gingerbread Boy
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Visa Charge Dispute: Do They Unfairly Side With Merchants?

Postby Gingerbread Boy » Mon Nov 21, 2011 5:09 pm

Hi

Earlier this year, I had a Visa charge dispute regarding a small Peruvian hotel over the room rate. I reserved a bungalow but when I arrived midweek the clerk told me that the bungalows are used only during the weekend. She wanted us to use two different rooms instead of one bungalow. I accepted the room change under the condition that I would pay the same room rate (the two rooms would equal one bungalow) even though I added A/C to my room. The clerk made a telephone call (the manager was off site), and we seemed to have an agreement.

When I checked out of the hotel, the room rate was much higher than I agreed. The hotel manager wouldn't compromise. After arguing in Spanish for 45 minutes, I was very late for an important appointment. I signed the credit slip and left.

I disputed the charge with my credit union's credit card handler which handled the dispute poorly in my opinion. First, they needed at least three months before they even presented my allegations to the merchant's bank. My overly detailed dispute letter (which included proof of our original agreement) seemed to confuse the credit union's dispute department which appeared to be very inexperienced in international disputes. Based on the initial response I received, the credit union's credit card handler initially claimed that the disagreement was a currency conversion dispute.

After reading the merchant's response, my rebuttal letter clearly and concisely listed the pertinent facts which included the original reservation email. There were no subsequent written agreements. The merchant had no proof that I stayed in an upgraded room or that I agreed to pay a higher rate.

Unfortunately, I lost the charge dispute even though there is no proof that I stayed in an upgraded room or agreed to pay a higher room rate. The credit union's credit card handler said that I shouldn't have signed the slip. Would I have risked jail if I tried to leave the hotel without signing the slip?

Based on my experience, I found that the Visa dispute charge policy favors businesses/merchants over consumers. Visa's policy appears to be that if the consumer doesn't have sufficient proof and the merchant doesn't have any proof then the merchant wins the dispute by default.

What has your experience been with charge disputes and Visa? How do you handle international disputes?

Thanks.

GBB


DoingHomework
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Postby DoingHomework » Tue Nov 22, 2011 5:05 pm

Interesting. But you should know that the biggest complaint merchants have is that the dispute process favors the consumer.

The problem here is that you received the services you were charged for. It is that simple. The merchant may have made mistakes in the booking or checkin process. They may have even tricked you into agreeing to a higher priced combination of rooms. But the bottom line that you stayed in the higher priced rooms. You could have walked away to another hotel but you didn't.

I've done disputes successfully in the past. Usually the first question is "did you use the service." If you did then everything comes down to whether the situation is "buyer's remorse" where you were just not happy afterwards, or bad faith on the part of the merchant. Truthfully, if I read your description about I would side with the merchant as well.

I'm not saying you did anything wrong. But at the point where they could not give you the room you booked (the bungalow) you could have gone elsewhere. If you had and they tried to charge a cancellation fee I would have sided with you in a dispute. But the fact that you stayed brings it to simply a dispute over price. At that point if they show you paid the price they normally charge for those rooms then you are pretty much out of luck. It's always best to walk away if you are uncertain. But I realize that is hard to do when you are tired and just want to get checked in!

Gingerbread Boy
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Postby Gingerbread Boy » Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:40 pm

I appreciate your response. I understand your point but in that situation there were no other hotel options in that very small town. I did look at another hotel the following day but there was nothing available because it was last weekend before school started, and the hotels were full.

I learned a few lessons from the experience one of which is to get changes/updates in writing.

Thanks.

GB B



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