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Quick summary of the question is that I would like to know how and to whom to appeal an AMEX denial of a credit card dispute.

Sorry in advance if this issue has been addressed previously. I searched all threads with "dispute" in the title and got surprisingly few.


More Detail:

I have a contractual dispute with a merchant for a substantial amount of money of which a portion (low 5 figures) was charged to my American Express card.

I doubt that that the merchant will be able to pay a judgment I get, so I haven't initiated any litigation against the vendor.

I did, however, dispute the charge with American. They have denied the dispute on grounds with which I disagree.

Does anyone know if there is an appeal process? I would guess it's probably subject to arbitration. However, I've been surprised how few references I've been able to find about this.

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Disputes are for the following reasons:

1) Unauthorized Use
2) Billing Error - Overcharging (over what was agreed) or charging of products never received
3) Right to withhold payment for poor quality - Must be more than $50 and purchased within your home state or 100 miles from your mailing address

If you dispute the credit card's ruling, you should contact your state Attorney General and the Federal Office of the Comptroller of Currency:

Office of the Comptroller of Currency
Customer Assistance Group
1301 McKinney Street
Suite 3450
Houston, TX 77010
FAX: 713-336-4301

Now, if you are disputing a valid charge (i.e. does not meet 1-3 above), which seems likely as you give so few details, then all you are doing is wasting your (and others) time. Failure to perform due diligence before completing a "substantial" transaction is not your credit card's fault!

Attorney Howard Strong wrote two books about credit cards, Credit Card Secrets... and What every Credit Cardholder Should Know. Remember:

1. You don't always have to file your complaint within 60 days.

2. The best way to complain is in writing, to the special address for billing problems. That means mail a paper letter.

3. It's best to complain to the merchant or the card issuer before paying the bill.

4. At least for certain types of disputes, billing errors, it's up to the card issuer to prove that your claim is wrong, not up to you to prove that it's right. A billing error is about anything you say is a billing error, but regardless, the card issuer has to treat your complaint as a billing error.

5. The card issuer has to correct your account, regardless of whether it can collect from the merchant or not.

6. Credit card arbitration companies are getting out of the business because they're being prosecuted as frauds who favor the card issuers in over 98% of the disputes.

7. Several federal agencies are responsible for regulating credit cards, including the FDIC, Federal Reserve, and FDA.

D'oh!

FoolishJumper said:
If you dispute the credit card's ruling, you should contact your state Attorney General and the Federal Office of the Comptroller of Currency:

Office of the Comptroller of Currency
Customer Assistance Group
1301 McKinney Street
Suite 3450
Houston, TX 77010
FAX: 713-336-4301

American Express is not a National Bank. Since AMEX is operating under two charters, there are two Federal regulators who can help. The appropriate agencies to contact are either the Office of Thrift Supervision or the FDIC.

BobG said: Quick summary of the question is that I would like to know how and to whom to appeal an AMEX denial of a credit card dispute.

Sorry in advance if this issue has been addressed previously. I searched all threads with "dispute" in the title and got surprisingly few.


More Detail:

I have a contractual dispute with a merchant for a substantial amount of money of which a portion (low 5 figures) was charged to my American Express card.

I doubt that that the merchant will be able to pay a judgment I get, so I haven't initiated any litigation against the vendor.

I did, however, dispute the charge with American. They have denied the dispute on grounds with which I disagree.

Does anyone know if there is an appeal process? I would guess it's probably subject to arbitration. However, I've been surprised how few references I've been able to find about this.
Your detail indicates to me that AMEX was correct in their assessment.

How about giving some specific details

Here's a little more detail. The dispute is for services not received. The merchant does not dispute that they haven't provided the service nor that I paid the originally agreed amount. However, they claim that the contract allows them to unilaterally increase the price after I paid and that they have done so. American Express is essentially taking their word for it.

In reality, the merchant's problem is that they are insolvent and can't afford to deliver the service, nor do they have the money to issue a refund.

This is the first time in more than 25 years that I have had AMEX rule against me in a dispute. Perhaps, AMEX is aware that they won't be able to collect from the merchant if they allow the dispute.

I haven't provided the contractual language and don't plan to do so. Obviosly, I would need to do so if I were asking for Fatwallet's advice regarding whether the merchant's contractual interpretation was correct. Note that I didn't ask for anyone's opinion about that. If I were, I hope someone would correctly point out that I should be consulting some lawyers, not anonymous posters on the internet.

I AM asking for Fatwallet's help regarding how and to whom one appeals if one disagrees with a credit card company's decision in a dispute. It seemed like something about which other FW'ers may have some experience. I was actually quite surprised when I searched that nothing came up.

Disclaimer- I am not a lawyer, nor am I studying law. I'm just a dumb stranger on the internet who has free time to look at other people's problems.

My thoughts-
I would assume that if you're able to get a judgment against the merchant, you can present that to AMEX, and possibly get it refunded in your favor. You may want to call AMEX and check on that.

letter to the CEO explaining why the chargeback must be processed. Keep it short, if the paidfor services were not received that is the basis for chargeback.

CC the State Attorney General

OP, you need to kick this up several levels in the business hierarchy. Call American Express's HQ (212-640-2000) and ask for the V.P. of Customer Service. (I don't know if that's the correct title, but I'm sure the receptionist can get you to the right office.) Of course, some secretary will answer. Tell the secretary that you have a problem that you haven't been able to resolve through the CSR's, and you'd like the VP's help. The secretary will divert you to someone who, while not the VP, has tremendously more seniority and discretion than anyone in the call centers.

SUCKISSTAPLES said: letter to the CEO explaining why the chargeback must be processed. Keep it short, if the paidfor services were not received that is the basis for chargeback.

CC the State Attorney General


It can't do any harm so I might as well give this a try.

Unfortunately, it appears AMEX has already decided not to do the easy thing which would be to say to the merchant: "it is undisputed that you have given the customer nothing in return for his money, so we're returning it. If you have contractual issues with him, take it up in court without involving us." There are other similarly situated customers, so this may add up to enough of a writeoff for AMEX to want to avoid.



elleve said: I would assume that if you're able to get a judgment against the merchant, you can present that to AMEX, and possibly get it refunded in your favor. You may want to call AMEX and check on that.

Unfortunately, this may be the route that offers the best prospect for some recovery. I had hoped to avoid needing to sue someone who can't pay the judgement just so I can get a partial recovery from AMEX.

Even if that route works, I need to understand the appeals process to be sure I don't miss some procedural deadline that would allow me to recover from AMEX in the distant future once I have a judicial determination regarding the contract.

I successfully appealed a rejected dispute on a corporate AMEX card a few years ago. A bunch of airline tickets were booked on my card for people that I didn't know in a different state. I figured it would be an easy dispute, but a month later I received a letter that they had finished their investigation and concluded that the chages were legitimate (???). I just called them up (yes, I didn't do it in writing, shame on me) and firmly (but politely) informed them that their conclusion was wrong, and I did not order any of the tickets nor did I know the people who the tickets were issued to. They agreed to "re-open" their investigation, and after another week I got a letter stating that this time they agreed that the charges were not legitimate.

cheezedawg said: I just called them up (yes, I didn't do it in writing, shame on me) and firmly (but politely) informed them that their conclusion was wrong, and I did not order any of the tickets nor did I know the people who the tickets were issued to. They agreed to "re-open" their investigation, and after another week I got a letter stating that this time they agreed that the charges were not legitimate.

I've already done this part. The initial dispute in February was simply "no services received". The merchant responded, in effect, "customer isn't full paid". We've had several more rounds and merchant is now asserting position that I described above, essentially "the price is whatever we say it is".


cheezedawg said: On your situation, is it possible that the contract does allow them to unilaterally increase the price without allowing you to cancel? If so, kinda a dangerous thing to agree to, no?

Obviously, I would have been an idiot to agree to such a thing. The contract does allow them to vary certain things, but specifically lists the price as one of the things that can't change without my consent. They are arguing that they can demand unlimited additional money by simply calling it something else.

If the something else was not in the contract, they cannot legally charge you for it.

ETA: What the h*ll did you buy?

My wife fought with Chase for 6 months over car repairs she did not authorize. We were denied multiple times. We located the phone number for the CEO, spoke to the executive admin for the CEO and within 3 days it was resolved.

BobG said: There are other similarly situated customers, so this may add up to enough of a writeoff for AMEX to want to avoidcustomers of what ?

Once I bought two identical airline tickets from a mom & pop travel agency. For reasons that I cannot recall, I paid for one of them with a personal check and the other by credit card. The agency cashed the check and also charged my credit card for two tickets. I disputed the charge to the visa and I supplied them with the copy of the chased check. They still rejected my dispute. I called them and I argued with them, they simply would not change their mind. Meanwhile I was also trying to get a refund from the agency. (I think they were having money problems.) The merchant never disputed (to me) my dispute and after giving me the run around for a few months eventually paid me back. But I lost a lot of confidence in the security of CC charges.

OP, we seriously need more info, because:

1. We live vicariously through other people's lives (and misfortune),
2. If you give us more info, we become interested in becoming part of the solution,
3. Without info, we torment you... oops, I mean we have to make guesses about what you bought and what you got (H&B?).
4. Our response MAY help others in the same situation you find yourself in, but no one will know, because you didn't fully describe the situation.

BTW, got any pics you can add to the discussion?

BobG said: Here's a little more detail. The dispute is for services not received. The merchant does not dispute that they haven't provided the service nor that I paid the originally agreed amount. However, they claim that the contract allows them to unilaterally increase the price after I paid and that they have done so. American Express is essentially taking their word for it.

In reality, the merchant's problem is that they are insolvent and can't afford to deliver the service, nor do they have the money to issue a refund.
If you're telling the truth, and I assume you are, then obviously the merchant blatantly lied to American Express. I find it very hard to believe that AMEX would otherwise deny a refund for services not received, especially when the merchant admitted they weren't provided, and I can't believe that you would agree to a contract allowing unilateral and after the fact increases in price (I thought that only credit cards did that, for finance charges). I'd refile the complaint, and do it in writing and to the special address for billing disputes (usually a PO box; writing to any other address won't necessarily protect all your legal rights).

AMEX may have denied your claim simply because the merchant went belly-up, which is illegal because it's their responsibility to correct your account, regardless of what it costs them, provided you complained correctly under the law and the card issuer's contract and rules. But I thought that card processors required merchants to pay into a fund to cover card disputes in case the merchant ran into financial trouble and couldn't pay back the card companies. During the 1990s, a local mail order computer dealer was put out of business because they were getting so many customer complaints that their card processor insisted that they contribute more to that fund.



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