One reason I use credit cards is for the peace of mind it provides…or so I thought. But when push came to shove, neither American Express or Chase had my back. Don’t assume that you will prevail in a dispute, even if you were ripped off by an unscrupulous merchant.
A bit of background. I’ve been a Chase customer for 19 years and an American Express customer for 15 years. Until recently, I have been a model customer. I always paid early or on time, carefully managed my credit, rarely disputed charges, and maintained a credit score over 840.
Background: Fleeced By A Merchant In Italy
My import/export company imports designer handbags from Italy. We entered into a large six-figure deal to purchase handbags. These would be imported to the United States and Canada then re-sold at a modest margin. Even with shipping costs and duties, buying from Europe made sense.
We work with merchants who accept credit card rather than require wire transfer because there are far too many unscrupulous actors out there. After visiting the merchant personally, sharing meals with the owner, and developing a level of comfort, we shook hands and pulled out our credit cards.
Both my business partner and I had no preset spending limit with American Express and could have put the entire charge on a single card, but we chose to diversify the spending across a handful of American Express and Chase cards for points-earning reasons.
You don’t just take a pallet of handbags with you as hand baggage…we arranged to have our freight forwarder pick it up and then ship it across the Atlantic. That takes time…several weeks at minimum. Bags not only have to ship, but then must clear customs and ship to our warehouses.
When our bags finally arrived, we found the vast majority were damaged. Some were scratched, some where dented, others were discolored. In a couple cases, the handles were ripped.
This wasn’t an issue of damage during shipping. Each bag was carefully wrapped and well-padded. Instead, it appeared we were sold customer returns (“seconds” as they are known in the industry).
Naturally, we reached out directly to the merchant to try to work this out. This wasn’t our first deal and we did not anticipate there would be any trouble.
No response to email, phone calls, or text messages.
We became concerned. Days turned into weeks.
Finally, we determined we had no choice but to initiate a chargeback against the merchant.
The chargeback prompted the merchant to reach out…and deny our return request. The merchant disputed the condition of the bags (despite clear photographic evidence) and threatened us, calling us crooks for trying to return the bags and hinting we were doing so because our customer had changed its mind.
Our contract specifies we have an absolute right to return for one year. That is affixed to every Purchase Order we issue. We even asked the merchant to confirm agreement to our terms and conditions in writing prior to entering the deal.
In other words, we legally covered ourselves.
We sent all the bags via UPS back to Italy. The vendor refused return service, literally telling the UPS driver to get lost. They now sit at a UPS facility somewhere in Italy. Damaged bags are of no use to us…it makes no sense to try to bring them back.
As they completed their investigation, American Express and Chase requested evidence. We submitted:
- Our Purchase Order with terms and conditions attached
- A copy of the email in which the merchant agreed to the terms and conditions
- Photos of the damaged bags
- Proof we sent the product back (UPS receipt + tracking info)
Easy case, right?
After months of back and forth, both American Express and Chase sided with the merchant.
The merchant is a retailer in Italy. It has a retail division and wholesale division. We bought from the wholesale division. It submitted a copy of its retail terms and conditions (a simple screenshot of its website) to argue that we had only 10 days to return the product.
Yes, that was their defense…we waited too long to return the product. Forget the fact that that we were not retail customers. Forget the fact that our contract unequivocally gave us a right to return. Nope, on the basis of the screenshot, both Chase and American Express argued too much time had passed and we would lose the disputes.
The “battle of the forms” is a classical problem in contract law, though in this case we were the only party which included terms and conditions in the contract.
Out of exasperation, I put the question to one customer service representative at American Express:
Is the problem that I have already paid? Is the problem that you cannot get my money back so you have to side with the merchant because American Express is not willing to eat this loss?
Both American Express and Chase have encouraged me to seek legal redress. Both have refused to re-open the cases.
What Do American Express And Chase Promise Consumers?
American Express tells me I “shouldn’t have to worry about a thing”.
Chase encourages chargebacks for:
- A product or service you received and are dissatisfied with
- A one-time purchase you returned or canceled, and you still haven’t received a credit
Whatever the fine print may say (and if there is fine print, I have not been able to find it), both American Express and Chase sell you the idea that if you get ripped off, they will have your back.
That is simply not the case. You have been warned.
The Consequences Of My Failed Dispute…
My business is not in a position to come up with hundreds of thousands of dollars out of thin air to pay for worthless product we returned to the merchant. You know what that means for my relationships with American Express and Chase, my business, and my own personal credit score…
After months of escalation, I’m so fed up with American Express and Chase. If they cannot protect a consumer who purchased designer handbags and received broken, dirty, discolored handbags…then who will they protect?
Please share your American Express or Chase chargeback stories below. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions concerning my own case.
How much money are you talking about? Is it worth terminating your relationship with Amex and Chase?
Time to put those wannabe lawyer skills to use. Be sure to write a bunch of angry, entitled posts about your intentions to sue so we can all have a good laugh together.
And as always, I will have the last laugh. Thanks for your click.
Great. Perhaps when you’re done being swindled for Italian handbags you could you can find another loyalty program to sue.
Also had a similar issue with Chase!
Paid a Contractor for a job, a job he started but never completed. Finally had to hire a new contractor, sent receipts, invoices, letter from New contractor, and equipment agreements from Hone Depot to support my claims- Chase sided with the fraudulent contractor and wouldn’t protect me, and wouldn’t return me the money/ credit. So I closed my account with them- without talking to retention bc customer service refused to connect me to the retention department. Why I’m not sure.
Fū$k Chase! No one should have a credit card with them! They WON’T protect you!
Wow, seriously awful. If there’s no need for discretion, what now?
Horrible Amex and Chase should have refunded your money. Legal action is necessary. Amex has not been as lenient with refunding as they were in the past. I’m starting to get annoyed because they used to back their customers. Now it’s getting where they no longer care. I’ve always like using my Amex because they backed their customers. Now I’m thinking why use Amex if their not gonna back you. I can use any other card and get the same results.
I was doing hundreds of thousands per months…I seriously considered the black card.
But AMEX has proven it really does not have my back.
Sorry to hear about your situation! Hope things work out for you and Amex/Chase decide to take responsibility and honor their credit agreement with you.
I can’t speak for Chase but it’s shameful how terrible Amex’s customer service has gotten over the last 2 years. I’ll certainly be revaluating the value received in exchange for the exorbitant annual fee.
Hmm. First you were not a “consumer” it was a merchant (business transaction) did you use a business card? Second if you should have won your dispute, then consult an attorney to sue American Express and Chase as that is easier than suing in Italy (assuming the seller has no income received from the US and no assets in the US. From what I have heard you (and the credit card companies) have much less power I we international transactions. Good luck.
We are exploring all options.
And amex charges about twice the fee to the retailer. This makes amex beholding to them. How can that distort justice? In a MAJOR way! I have and always will refuse amex for payment.
@ Matthew — It sounds like lawsuits against Chase and AMEX are in order.
and the designer bag company merchant they dealt with.
Chase let me down recently siding with a crooked merchant bad well. I assumed it was for the same reason
Me too! Fuk Chase! They don’t protect their cardholders!
I think you can demand both Amex and Chase for the fake publicity, you trusted in them and they had to support you that is why you decided to pay with credit card because your trusted in them! Should be a lawyer who can take your case and demand for false publicity for emotional issues when they did not support you, for the time you are taking and for hassle you!
I stopped using my Chase card as my top of wallet card because they utterly failed to follow Visa’s chargeback rules when I recently received a broken item I’d ordered online. I cannot fathom what’s going on at Chase where they would conclude the correct outcome was that I be held to the charge, but I do know this: points are nice, but if you can’t trust your credit card company to get your back they are off ZERO value to you and sooner or later it will cost you tenfold. Chase’s loss is Citi’s gain and I urge everyone to steer clear of Chase credit cards.
I’m split on this. I’m sure you followed the terms so you should get covered. But chargebacks (particularly cross-border) aren’t a substitute for insurance coverage. Shouldn’t this be covered by your business insurance?
Also, I thought generally wholesalers paid 30 or 60 days after delivery, with a discount for early payment. Net 30 or Net 60 I think it is called. Was that not available?
Fair questions. We have a blanket cargo insurance policy that covers damage, theft, or loss during shipping, but it would be difficult to claim that here. We also have insurance against clients who do not pay us. This is all extremely expensive. We do not have insurance that would specifically apply to the situation above.
While we would love net payment terms, those are rarely extended to smaller wholesalers like my company.
Nate I agree with your statement. Having worked in this particular field you should always create a purchase order with terms and never pay unfront for services you never received.
After the Purchase Order or Blanket Purchase Agreement is signed it should include terms relating to payment and discount if paid within 30 days.
Amex has decided to outsource their customer service to India so no surprise but Chase normally has better service and should have had your back.
Obviously, I’d love that, but that is just not the way this industry works.
As far as my experience goes, Chase outsourced almost everything and I need to deal with the 3rd party directly.
PayPal protection is a joke, and I wished Amex stays as a good company. Reading the article gives a 2nd thought.
Threatening bk in public to get credit card CS to change their mind on your dispute? Warning blog readers not to owe you unsecured money? Planning an apporama and some physical bullion purchases?
I had a situation where I made a large purchase with both Chase and Amex. I had to fight but I won. It seems like deny is first round of defense? Best of luck with your lawsuit
This is the price of business, you are not a consumer you are a merchant, business are supposed to have insurance and collaterals. Also, using two banks for a purchase just complicated things, as to dealing with one bank is much easier. Read the fine prints on Chase and AMEX dispute terms, It doesn’t guarantee resolutions in your favor, so my advice to file a lawsuit against the business that sold you the products, otherwise you just lost your investment.
To your point, I think my problem is I was dealing with a non-US merchant and AMEX + Chase essentially had no recourse. In other words, had this been a U.S. company, I probably never would have needed to write this post…
This exactly is a racist comment. Why would it matter whether the job is outsourced to india? Do you think support in india somehow is the reason why Matthew didnot get a proper hearing!
American Express owns a proper hearing and a resolution.
Would a comment “What do you expect from American company?” sound right?
Not at all “racist”. Instead, it is an astute comment regarding the problem of outsourcing customer service to culturally and demographically different regions.
How is an outsourced customer service representative in e.g. India or The Philippines going to understand our own culture of common-law, spending, credit cards etc, if they have never had access to such norms?
I’d much rather talk to someone within my region or culture about a problem unique to my region’s lifestyle than someone who has no idea. Wouldn’t you?
It may also have to do with the fact that the vendor is not in the USA. It may make things more complicated. Any dispute I have had, usually 5 figures or higher is usually taken care of by Amex with no issue. I also use Paypal as extra assurance . I have heard other stories that differ with international vendors.
Very sorry to hear about your terrible experience in Italy. Have you looked into local law firms that could handle your case in Italy? Not sure if that is even a possibility. Forgetting about the credit card companies, what other options do you have. Really disturbing and disappointing to say the least.
Very sad, especially when you sit down and break bread with someone and think you can trust them. Our next step will be to explore litigation, but it won’t be in Italy. California’s long-arm statute will compel them to fight this out in California. The problem, of course, is lawyers don’t take these sorts of cases on contingencies and I don’t feel like doing this pro se.
It makes even more sad that I am Italian. The way you described it was the way my family always did business. Our word is our bond. It makes me wonder why someone would do what they did to you but I guess that is my naive side of thinking everyone is good. Hopefully you will find a way to solve this issue without jeopardizing your business.
reading this i pictured a teenage girl w her dads credit card in italy. you put hundreds of Ks on your cc upfront to buy “designer” purses from an unknown merchant and organize your own frieght, only to send them all back UPS on your dime and expect a full refund? i think the whole point of this article is you got burned bc of bad judgement but doesnt matter to you bc you can get a black card and think youre hot stuff. reason and accountability.
Yes, because I would have been in much better shape had I just paid by wire and asked my bank to go to bat for me.
International business is changing. Credit card purchases are far more common than even a few years ago. Paying by card for major purchases is no longer a problem and is a great benefit in most cases…
My experience with Chase has been terrible. Every time, they require me to fill out a physical form and mail it back. Once with a Starwood hotel dispute, even with an email confirmation from corporate that spells out the amount I should have gotten refunded by the hotel, and the hotel failed to issue the refund for months, Chase still kept asking questions.
Amex on the other hand has always been great. They will open a dispute over the phone, collect the info they need and weeks later i get the money credited.
In your case I wonder if the fact that your purchase was for commercial rather than personal purpose might have resulted in a different standard being used by Amex
So you did a commercial transaction on personal cards which offer personal protection coverage but not commercial terms of coverage…and your seller refers to his terms that apply to personal purchases/refunds. Seems you want your cake and eat it too. If a commercial transaction, use a business card or deal with import/export through official banking channels that provide safeguards (export/import banks of every country).
Just use the miles you earned and resell those tickets to make good. Don’t expect Amex or Chase to make good on your screw up.
The picture above was just for illustrative purposes. Charges were made on a Business Platinum, Business Gold, Bonvoy Business, and Chase INK. We still lost.
Furthermore, the credit card does not determine whether this was a retail or wholesale deal…the contract does, you know, the one that gave us a right to return to the product and reveals (wait for it) wholesale pricing.
Nice try, though…
Does your contract specify that your terms and conditions supersede any other provisions between the parties regardless of whether they are on the vendor’s documents? It seems to me the only detail missing from your transaction was language that directed all parties to your terms and conditions, that if there was a conflict between terms, your language would prevail and that the language or agreement was acknowledged by the vendor.
Yes, in the first paragraph of our T&Cs:
These terms and conditions supersede your terms and conditions unless explicitly agreed in writing by Company.
In DavidB’s defense, your conclusion does say, “If they cannot protect a consumer who purchased…”
“Consumer” should be “small business” — this was B2B, not B2C, and not charged on a consumer card.
I wonder if a smaller chargeback, more in line with a consumer purchase (i.e. one handbag) would have been approved. I’ve had little/no problems with Chase or Amex in terms of chargebacks or return protection. The one time I had a charge denied, it was a foreign chargeback. Never an issue with a domestic chargeback.
Fair enough. But are businesses not consumers too? 😉
Not in this sense, no.
I would just tell amex and chase you are not paying the cards. Let your business partner pay his to keep his accounts in good standing so you can use credit that you need. Wait about 6 months, settle the accounts for 30% of what you owed and in about 24 months your credit score will be 680-700 again and the negatives will be overlooked when applying for new credit.
In 15 yrs I have had 3 bad experieces. I travel to Euope and AX always resolved my discrepancies. Also 2 in U.S perhaps the problem was with
As I started to read this article, that was the first thought that came to my mind. Personal cards for a business transaction??? Perfect recipe for a disaster. I work in the banking industry and anyone else who does will tell you … that was NOT a smart idea. Personal cards are for personal use- Business cards are for… you get the idea.
While I agree it sucks to get ripped off and the credit card issuers should offer protection, how much is reasonable? It sounds like you charge 100’s of thousands of dollars on both cards. That is a lot of capital AMEX and Chase would have to expend, multiply that by the number of accounts they have. At some point they are going to do a cost benefit analysis and determine that the present value of your expected future profit to the banks does not make this something that is financially viable for them to do. To them they feel it is worth losing your business, rather than pay out the amount you are owed.
OF course, per you card member agreement you can take them to arbitration and I would think you would have good odds to win your case. Well certainly better odds than trying to fight the vendor in Italian court.
I certainly agree that American Express and Chase made the determination that this wasn’t worth their while. Still, unless they freeze this merchant I don’t see why American Express cannot recoup its money.
Sorry this happened to you.
For the record, Amex has this fine print in the Benefit Terms:
Not all disputes are resolved in the Card Member’s favor.
Amex also has a whole website section called Merchant Dispute Policy dedicated to help merchants protect during disputes, something I’ve rarely seen with Visa or MasterCard issuers.
When it comes to a large b2b dispute such as this, I’d be looking primarily at a legal remedy, not to a credit card benefit that gives an unmotivated card issuer full discretion on the matter. Winning the dispute would have been nice, but hopefully you’ll get the relief you’re entitled to in an Italian court.
Hopefully Matthew has a governing law and dispute resolution clause that prevents him from having to go to an Italian court. For us, if a customer or supplier rejects the law and courts of our home state, we fallback on the laws of New York, England & Wales, Delaware or, in extreme cases, Singapore or Switzerland. If we are not going to resolve a dispute in an American court, we go for international arbitration with a three arbitrator panel with each side picking one arbitrator who, in turn, pick the third, using ICC rules at a location mutually inconvenient for both parties.
In truth, enforcing a judgment overseas is a messy and costly exercise. There is a treaty requiring signatories to recognize and enforce the awards of another signatory, including arbitration awards, but you still have to go to court in that country to get it enforced or hope the other party has assets in your country that you can go after.
Agreed. Credit card charge back provisions do not contemplate large b2b transactions. That’s why trade credit exists. Amex and Chase did not sign up to enforce any and all contracts among their card members and merchants.
Who said anything about “any and all”? How about the fact pattern I described? Why does it matter if this was B2B or B2C if the credit card holder was essentially winded with a bait and switch sale?
I agree with work2fly. I would’ve thought something this serious would warrant the pursuit of a legal recourse, rather than simply (only) filing a credit card chargeback.
There are many avenues to pursue. You don’t think trying to work with Chase and AMEX first was smarter than trying to pursue a foreign company?
I had a similar issue with Amex though not to the financial amount of yours I am sure. After a couple of months Amex sided with the vendor, I wrote and complained nothing. Then and I should have known I had another incident where I clearly was ripped off by the merchant and Amex once again sided with the vendor.
At the end of the day two things, one Amex doesn’t want to “eat” charges as you pointed out AND I think they don’t want to offend merchant after all they charge more than another card out there. By the by I have or was a card holder since 2002 with changeability of 500K I cancelled all three of my Amex cards. Chase does a great job for me.
I negotiate international transactions for the sale of goods as a career (albeit in the aerospace, automotive and defense sectors, not retail). Prior to my arrival, my current company did most of its contracting through POs. I stopped that right away – now it’s signed contracts for anything other than routine spare parts orders. The best way to avoid a battle of the forms is to never have one in the first place. Did you have the option to inspect the goods prior to shipment or to have a third party inspection prior to shipment? Even requiring that the seller photograph each item and send to you before packing would have provided some protection.
Inspection did not make sense at the time. We were told the bags arrived wrapped directly from the brand and if we opened them to inspect, we bought them “as is” since quality control could no longer be guaranteed by the merchant. We agreed because even wearing gloves, these handbags are easily damaged when handled. Waiting until they arrived in our warehouse to inspect made sense because they would not have to be repacked and potentially suffer damage in transit (i.e., it would have unnecessarily shifted more liability onto us).
Fair enough. Tough situation. I feel for you.
Before doing any more business with Italian fashion exporters you should read, “Gomorrah,” by Roberto Saviano.
And/or watch the film and the (more exciting and developed) television series. Absolutely awesome!
You should be able to file a consumer protection lawsuit, even though it involves two businesses. If so, and you win, as it sounds like you should, then the Italian company will have to pay your company’s attorney fees and also pay costs and double damages. You may not even have to pay attorney fees as some lawyers may be willing to do this on a contigency basis by taking part of your damages. Check your state’s consumer protection laws.
Quick question. Did each credit card charge specify exactly which items were charged for? Because if only a portion of the total order came in that state (damaged, used, seconds, etc), how would you determine which credit card to make the claim from?
By the way, simply returning the items to the sender may have no bearing on the case, because many vendors require an “RMA” or an “RGA”, an authorization from them, to accept returns. I assume that the vendor simply told Amex/Visa/Chase that they never issued an RMA/RGA, so Amex/Visa/Chase likely disregarded the evidence you sent of returning the items.
The entire order was returned. If you buy a dozen eggs and 10 are broken, you send the full dozen back.
An RMA was not applicable because our PO allowed for unfettered returns at our sole discretion.
Sorry the question wasn’t clear. Let’s say you bought 100 handbags, 10 Launder Traviata, 10 Bottega Veneta, 10 Salavatore Ferrangamo, etc. And then paid the PO with 5 different credit cards. Then, later on, the products arrive and only the Ferragamo ones are subpar and need to be returned. Which credit card would you choose to process that return on? In other words, did each credit card charge specify exactly which products were being purchased with that specific card?
In this case, they were broken down by brand, each having its own invoice.
That’s smart and the right way to do it. It preserves a level of safety in case card issuers begin to argue with each other who is responsible for what.
The whole thing really sucks, and it’s terrible to have to deal with dishonest people. Been there, done that, ate plenty of losses due to those kinds of people.
It is unlikely the bags are still sitting in a UPS warehouse somewhere in Italy. More likely, they are back in one of the vendor’s warehouses. Did you consider trying to mitigate your damages by selling the bags “as is”-perhaps to a discount shop or street vendor cartel? By doing so you could have lowered your losses and perhaps made it easier for AmEx or Chase to actively help you.
There are 2 sides to every story. I doubt your story & info. You didn’t read your contracts/purchase orders/refund policy etc. Wanna close your accounts … go for it. Don’t need to publish story about it. . Just close it. I don’t work for any of them. I still doubt your story & integrity. Don’t believe you & your story.
Not only did I read my contract/purchase order/refund policy, I WROTE it! In law school, I specialized in contract law…and our contract was airtight, which is why they are running away from it.
What is the governing law/dispute resolution mechanism?
California, Los Angeles County Superior Court. Clearly spelled out in contract with explicit waiver of any venue objections.
So what exactly a California court can do regarding a bad business owner in Italy?
That’s where it gets complicated. Enforcing a judgement in Italy is possible, but very difficult.
And costly. Italy is not known for having the most above the board judicial system.
What is sad is it is only a criminal matter for false advertising and there is no compensation for legal fees at the end so it would prob cost more in non recoupable legal fees with possibly an escape goat stepping down in the end but still no recourse for the amount of money it would take. You can’t even get legal scam action because you have a contract which makes it a civil matter and good luck trying to do international civil matters. I have been screwed by a few disputes before so i feel your pain and anger. If only someone could do something cough cough Trump Cough cough lol .
So mine involves Brussels Airlines.
I paid for 2 business class tickets from Budapest to Brussels … for March 21 of this year. The pandemic hit , airline shut down and for the past 3 months I have been trying to get my money back from Brussels Airlines the correct way …
They have logged 18 phone calls of mine … the amount is a mere 405 euros, but still my hard earned money.
I contacted Chase and they sent me a letter saying that it’s under dispute. 5 days before the dispute was to be finalized I got my refund from Chase saying that the merchant (Brussels Airlines) has 2 billing cycles to dispute my refund request.
So now I have to wait for another 60 or so days to see if Brussels Airlines will dispute my charge back .. meanwhile they sent me a tweet saying that refunds are not being processed in a timely matter and can take months now.
So even though I got back my 405 euros … that charge could come back if Brussels Airlines decides to play games with me …
What a mess !!!!!!!
Doing import/export biz with CC is a bad bad idea. Better find a local export(Buyer’s) agent.
We’re not a huge company (had hoped to get there…doesn’t look likely at this point…). Giving up are slim margin to an agent just didn’t make sense (though certainly in retrospect I wish I would have done things differently, named not ever entering into the deal in the first place).
@AAron: what a terrible comment. Why do you even read the blog if you don’t believe on him? I wonder of you are the Italian vendor that screwed him up.
This is horrid and I am sorry you are dealing with it, Matthew. Truly, undo stress at a time that could not be worse.
This is clearly a significant amount of money and both Amex and Chase want to be out of the dispute and force you to fight it out with the wholesaler.
Just from my own experiences in dealing with this in business (not as a legal expert and far from it!) the progression in these three party transactions usually ends up being a legal battle between the two primary, with the third being just a facilitator of funds and not responsible for your dispute with the supplier. Amex would simply argue, “if you wired the funds would you hold your bank responsible?”
I hate to say it but instead of wasting time on AMEX and Chase with legal action you might want to look at just going right after the supplier.
Luckily I have never had to deal with a lawsuit against a foreign company. Hopefully they have some sort of entity or presence in California that you could try to file suit there. Otherwise, my god, good luck navigating the Italian court system from what I have heard.
In the end the hardest decision may be to get the purses back and sell them at a distressed price to just get what you can and move on. Can’t tell you the number of times I had to eat my pride and a lot of money due to other people’s actions – as it was cheaper in the end than trying the alternative of getting what was right.
Best of luck. Again, sorry, this is a really tough break.
Thanks Stuart. I know you sell high-end items too and do business in Europe, so you can probably feel my pain better.
I do. It’s agonizing. Even more agonizing is the choice to move on and cut your losses. But it’s often the right choice in complex situations like this. The most important thing is not what you lost in money, but to make sure that it does not cost you in losing your focus on making up for it with better deals in the future. What doesn’t kill you makes you bitter…wait, I MEAN STRONGER!
Hi Matt, let me prefix this with IANAL and you are, so maybe I don’t know what I am talking about…
Presumably Amex/Chase do not encounter chargebacks that involve contracts or purchase orders containing contracts very often. If they specify in their terms that chargeback decisions are in their sole discretion, they would be within their rights to ignore any kind of contract more complex than a standard consumer sales contract. It would also seem that they would want to avoid offering any kind of implied arbitration service on complex contracts that they did not draft, because the folks processing chargebacks are likely not lawyers and that could get legally sticky quite fast.
I think that what Amex/Chase did is unsavory, given that they seem to have predicated their decision solely on the amount that the bank would be on the hook for, and the transactions were on cards geared toward small businesses spending this amount of money. But I also think that maybe banks should consider offering financial products specifically geared towards businesses that buy things like that with buyer’s terms, and perhaps the proper venue for this kind of a dispute is a business insurance or contract law.
Is this a dispute over the purchase insurance provisions of these cards or a charge back for goods/services purchased but not received? Sounds like if one doesn’t get results, go after the other provision. And both were rejected by both card issuers.
I can’t comment on AMEX as they are jury, judge, and executioner on dispute since they represent both the cardholder and the merchant.
However, with your Chase Card, you have the absolute right to push this matter to arbitration and have VISA international dispute team look at your case. Chase dispute department does not have final say here.
Keep in mind there is a cost IF you decide to go to arbitration and lose. But it’s free if you win.
Thanks for the tip. In this case, I’m confident I would win. I will look into it.
Would this be an option if you (or anyone) rejected the mandatory arbitration clause that Chase instituted (last year or 2 years ago)? I can’t remember if you posted about it, but it was on a lot of the blogs…
Regardless, sorry that you’re in this situation. 🙁
Matt, I am so sorry to read about your experience – the issue you are going through potentially affects many other people, as so many people purchase goods and services and pay for it with their credit cards. We would all like to have the comfort of knowing that our credit card companies will be there for us if there is an issue that requires us to initiate a chargeback or dispute. I have been an AMEX card holder for 33 years. At one point, Amex was the epitome of customer service – they were the standard bearer of how a company should treat their customers. I loved Amex and loved calling their customer service because it was always a good experience! Sadly this is no longer the case. Amex is no longer the company it once was. They spend millions trying to attract new customers, but often ignore the valued and loyal customers they already have. Of course, it all trickles down from the top – the CEO and those below are responsible for enacting policies that enable a most customer unfriendly and inefficient dispute resolution center. I too have recently had a bad experience with American Express after a travel agent refused to refund airline tickets. The law was on my side – but Amex sided with the ticket agent. I did eventually get my money back but the whole experience left a really bad taste in my mouth. I look forward to the day when I can end my relationship with them – however I have to keep my Amex Delta Skymiles card because I still have unused airline miles on it. You will never get to speak to anyone in their dispute resolution center, you have no way of emailing them and all of your calls will be routed to India. As someone above stated, the Amex dispute resolution center is the judge, jury and executioner- probably some inexperienced young person sitting in an office somewhere, making the decision whether to believe you or the merchant. This is so wrong.
Finally, could I please offer you another possible way of attempting to resolve this? Get yourself on a flight to Italy. Go and find the merchandise, load it into the back of a truck and go to the merchant. Arrive there and sit down with the merchant and try to resolve this in person – you will catch them off guard if you show up unannounced- you will have the advantage. Try and break bread with them once again – outside, of course, with a mask on this time! If this doesn’t work, go and find a lawyer or mediator in the town, who speaks Italian. Give him a few bucks for a consultation. Get advice on your prospects of success. Ask him to talk to the merchant and arrange another meeting. Or with the merchant’s lawyer. Try and get this whole thing resolved in person, while you are there, with a bottle or three of Italian wine, some good food and a friendly demeanor. Go to the bag manufacturers if necessary and ask if they can repair the damage to the bags right there while you wait. Just think creatively to get this resolved. You’ll save yourself the headache, aggravation and expense of having to deal with rip off sheister lawyers in CA and you’ll get another trip to Italy, which as you know, is a beautiful country! I know – better we didn’t have the pandemic going on….but…Matt, my .02 worth!
What a horrible situation Matthew. I’m so sorry this happened to you. That’s why they say it’s far more important to buy from the right person than at the right price.
I’m not surprised that Chase and Amex have failed to step up. Have you thought about approaching the media?
I have had a few good experiences with Chase (less than $20) where they immediately credited the money back. But one horrible experience stands out. Someone in a different city from where I live somehow hacked into my Uber Eats account while I was sleeping in a different time zone overseas and ordered several hundred $$$ worth of food from McDonalds. Chase refused to help me despite escalating to their Executive customer service team. Apparently all Chase needed from Uber Eats was proof that someone had placed an order that matched the charges to refuse my request. I even filed a police report but it didn’t matter. Uber Eats also refused to help initially. The issue was finally resolved after 6 months of persistence and Uber giving the order data “a second look”.
So terrible and sorry to hear that happened to you. Arbitration with Chase/Amex, lawsuit in California/Italy, Visa International, social media and perhaps arranging some interviews to talk about what happened to you. Would explore all options as it appears you lost a substantial amount of money.
Give the tight contract you described, somehow it feels you should be able to recover your funds even if it takes a while. Does not help now to feel significantly better, but you still have your family during these trying times, and you have smarts to figure this out. Stay strong and go after that terrible business in Italy.
Thanks. I wish this was the only business issue I was dealing with…
Your article does not state where you are based. Under Florida law, a lender can be liable for the bad acts of a merchant. I would absolutely file suit against Chase, Amex, and the merchant. The goods were delivered here. You will have to serve the Italian merchant under The Hague Convention, which includes translating the complaint into Italian, but if you are talking about six figures, it could well be worth it. One caveat: all of your cardmember agreements probably have arbitration provisions. Luckily, Amex records all of their calls, so that conversation you had with the Amex rep should be available. Good luck.
I’m in California.
To put it simply, I believe every word you said. Amex and Chase could have easily looked into this and refunded you without quibble as you provided the the full list of items needed to back yourself and win this fairly clear cut case. The words”get lost” aimed at an innocent UPS courier was befitting with the arrogance and remorseless actions taken by the vendor that stabbed you in your back even especially after you had a meal with him, shameless! I mean why would anyone want damaged bags even if they were free ( or int his case, with handsome profit) I dealt with characters of this kind many times in my life. I’m new to business myself and have never even seen such sums mentioned, but from the bottom of my heart, I believe and know, that if you don’t get your money back in this situation, you will gain something even better/bigger in the future. Life all together is a test. I seriously hope Amex and Chase are ashamed of running away from an honest credit card holder who relied on them. Thanks for opening our eyes up to these guys. I hope justice is served against that thug eitther way.
Very kind of you Ayman. Thank you.
Any favor resolution from Amex/Chase?
I got scammed, gave out my credit card info. merchants from Mexico charged me over $3,000 for a vacation package which I never authorized. They told Amex it was non refundable
and they falsified receipts & signature Amex has denied my dispute stating I had given out my credit card no.
It is a fraudulent charge I am not responsible. My dispute has been denied and Amex added interests on top. Any advice?
No favorable resolution. You may wish to sue AMEX/Chase.
I have one time asked that American Express redress a purchase in the five years I’ve affiliated with them. It was over a Chipotle order amounting to all of $30. The store said someone else took my online order of the shelf. I left without food. No worries, it happens. After two weeks of no response from chipotle for reimbursement, I had drinks and decided that the principal was enough to fight for. I disputed the charge with Amex . I was credited. A month later after Chipotle finally responded (with apology due to COVID-19 ((makes no sense, since they processed order and my Payment)) , I responded by saying I had been credited via Amex. Literally, before I had gotten response from Chipotle Amex charged back the credit! They don’t play for the “member”. After all was said and done I wasn’t harmed (perhaps inconvenienced). Either case the 2/3 hundred bucks is increasingly without value. Really? All that for a burrito? No me gusta
Can you share some details about the bags for someone who doesn’t mind second-hand? Asking for a friend.
Think Italian and French designers. You can send me an email if you are interested in discount luxury bags…we have a few in stock in Los Angeles.
Sone major banks do lie like AMEX “you shouldn’t worry a thing”WHAT IF MY CREDIT CARD GOT HACKED I shouldn’t worry a thing HA i should be worried seriously just go to a lawyer and file lawsuit to chase and AMEX
So is the article about how everyone should stay away from AMEX and Chase due to a one off business deal gone wrong that has nothing to do with the credit card companies themselves other than you used them so you could get points instead of other secure options for a large business transaction. Or the fact that your salty about the deal and need a scapegoat and credit card companies are the easy target. With that said, this is an ugly situation and I wish things like this didn’t happen. And why even charge that much to the cards in the first place? Were the bags pre sold and you anticipated paying those cards off that month so you wouldn’t be charged interest. I thought the point of contracts were for the purpose to be used in court and not for credit card purchases. Because if that’s the case I need to make a contract for all my purchases and then take it to the credit card companies if something goes wrong and be like but I have a contract. I do feel for you though and hope this gets resolved but don’t bash the companies and try to discourage others that more than likely won’t even conduct these types of transactions. Come on, overseas, multiple credit cards, independent contracts, unseen goods and then returned them before they agreed to accept the return. I can’t.
I’m not calling for anyone to stay away from Chase and AMEX. Certainly, for most people those brands offer great value propositions and the points, convenience, benefits are very valuable. But I am warning both individuals and small businesses that they should not expect much if they have to dispute a charge…
I don’t understand. This was a business transaction on a business credit card. Business cards do not have the same protections as consumer credit cards. On what basis are you seeking redress?
What do you mean they don’t have the same protections? Please elaborate.
Wow. Sorry to hear it is an understatement. Here are my thoughts from easy to hard:
1. Ask/beg the banks to reopen the dispute.
2. Sue the banks.
3. Sue the vendor.
Well, I am sure that there is more of what you are saying.
I bought some airlines tickets with my Amex, when the pandemic hit us all I tried to get refunded by the Airline it was a no go, same with Flighthub so I turned to Amex and they surely got my 100% refund in a very short period of time. I have been a Amex member since 1991 and they always delivered and they have backed me up this time when nobody is getting airline refunds.
As a merchant Ive had Amex Violate its own terms and just took the money out of our bank account.
Bye bye amex. We no longer use or accept Amex
I also faced similar issue with my bank although it was for small amount where I live there is always a third party vendor for payment (Paytm/paypal). I bought a perfume bottle the item I ordered and which the seller sent was different I asked for a replacement and he told he will send out reverse pick up a week pass I asked shall I ship it to him he refused stating various reasons. 15 days pass I ask for status he informed he will provide a partial refund and told me to keep the product 10 days pass still no refund so I sent mail to him again no response for a week. So I sent dispute claim the the third party vendor (Razorpay) immediately the seller responded stating that I refused sending back the product so he will not provide refund. The third party vendor sided with seller even though I had proof but by the time I sent dispute to the bank the dispute time frame has passed. After that I try to avoid purchasing from new vendor online even if they have a good deal. I think EU may have consumer forum/court have you tried those ? Will those be helpful to you ?
If you bought an airline ticket using several different credit cards would you expect each card to fulfill a portion of trip interruption and other insurance coverages? No, those benefits would be abridged and none of the card Issuers would be required to honour the coverage. I still see no difference in this and what you did.
Claim this under your general business insurance policy, not through Amex or Chase. I don’t my annual or transaction fees go to bail your business out. That’s what business insurance is for.
See above. Charges were split by brand. But again, in this case it doesn’t matter…everything was rejected.
You’ve escalated it tot he Chairman’s Office?
Chase has never ever stood behind me only ANY merchant dispute. EVER. Top 3 worst bank ever, and #1 or #2 in worst credit card issuers.
Amex, though a shadow of its former self, and indeed a shadow of its former card member protector “par excellence”, has, with battle, so far redeemed themselves with me. It has especially been a battle in more recent recent years, but after escalating it to the Chair’s office, each time it has been equitably adjudicated. The various call center staff and their supervisors are worthless on big money and detailed disputes.
I have noticed in recent years that they have switched sides of he transaction that they pay attention to. In earlier disputes they were interested in what “my” purchase order had to say about returns, damages, not as specified etc. Now in discussions/reviews/arguments they pay particular attention to the terms and conditions that the SELLER’s paperwork shows. This is indicative to me that they no longer want to be the protector of the card member. BEWARE.
BTW, never, ever sign the merchants “conditions of sale” or whatever they choose to call it. Issue your purchase order with YOUR terms and conditions, and have them initial it, or sign it. It makes it better. If you are the guy with the money willing of fork over almost instantly your cash, they have to sign the p.o. YOU issue, or no transaction. There are plenty of people out that that will sign your p.o.. i learned this the expensive way, unfortunately, many times.
Very sorry that this happened Matthew. Hope you sue the crap outta this scumbag. Take him for everything he’s got.
He must have scammed others too, it may be helpful to see if you can find other victims so you can take him on together.
Hi Matt, sorry that this happened to you. I have had some big business losses in the past, and sometimes you just have to eat your pride and walk away. Since this merchant is based in Italy, do you fear the mafia at all?
Currently suing AMEX in small claims over a similar matter. Ordered a mechanical product $3500 cost and it arrived non functional. I returned the product to the merchant and the merchant refused to give me a refund as they have a repair only policy and refunds are not allowed.
Explained to the merchant that by the time the repair is completed it will be weeks and we will miss the deadline of our repair.
The merchant stopped communications with me and kept the part and the funds.
Opened a dispute with AMEX and AMEX sided with the merchant. AMEX admitted the same on the call that they’re aware that the merchant has the items and has my money but they want me to take it up with them directly.
Since the merchant is in another state, it becomes hard for me to seek legal action.
Instead I’m taking AMEX to court for breach credit card consumer protection laws.
The same thing happened to me. I did one deal with the merchant and three weeks later they process my credit card for a $3000 charge without my authorization. I went through the dispute process and everything and they said well the merchant said that you authorized it so we will honor it. There’s nothing on paper or anything that ever said that I agreed to this purchase and they are still taking their word over mine without any concrete proof.
I have problem with Amex as well
It seems that Amex is really sided with the merchant now. I had a bad experience with Amex customer service. I made a dispute with Amex four months ago, because the merchant didn’t deliver their product. In the dispute decision letter I found the merchant made a false claim that I violated their term of conditions at the time of purchase (which I cancelled the non-refundable ticket by myself.). I told the Amex with providing official documents to prove that the merchant cancelled my tickets without noticing me in the rebuttal letter. However, my chargeback was still denied. Currently the merchant had my money, and I didn’t got the product that I paid for. Then I still don’t know what the next step would be the best. If anyone has any comment on my case, you are welcome.
Any updates here? Did you go the BK route? Or just eat the costs?
Any favor resolution from Amex/Chase?
I got scammed, gave out my credit card info. merchants from Mexico charged me over $3,000 for a vacation package which I never authorized. They told Amex it was non refundable
and they falsified receipts & signature Amex has denied my dispute stating I had given out my credit card no.
It is a fraudulent charge I am not responsible. My dispute has been denied and Amex added interests on top. Any advice?
I am a working women that lives paycheck to paycheck. I do not have an Amex charge card but did opt for the American Serve cash card to have my paycheck deposited to every pay day for several years. I had to file fraud for 3 $100 transaction from a consumer who I originally ordered merchandise from for $33.49. I received an empty package. As I spoke with this company trying to get my money credited back to my Amex Serve Card, instead they withdrew 3 $100 from my card. I filed fraud with Amex, shut the card down and asked for a replacement. They did send the replacement card and advised me to write a letter describing the fraud. Two weeks later my new card that I had just activated was shut down by Amex with what little funds I had left and not able to use. I was told to write a letter to request they issue me a check for my remaining funds that were on the account before they shut it down.. Again, I live paycheck to paycheck, lost $333.49 and the $77 that I still had was now held up. I finally received a check for the $77. I was told they shut my account down due to me going against their terms and agreement. What? I am the one who had fraud committed against me. Oh, and by the way, Amex found it not to be fraud, HOW can that be? I was told again to write a letter for the transactions Amex used to make this determination. I received a letter back stating there is no paper trail to send me for their findings. Here 3 months later I get an email saying the $33.49, for the product I did not receive was added back to my account. WHAT ACCOUNT, they shut it down! After calling Amex, with no help from a representative or a supervisor. I was told to write a letter to request my $33.49 be mailed to me by check. And what about the 3 $100 transaction that I reported
as fraud??? What a mess. This may not seem like much to some people but this mess caused me to have to borrow money to pay my bills and get through until my next check. In total losing $334.99, borrowing to survive, has put me behind for over 2 months, having to squeeze and pinch to get back to my normal budget for everyday living. What a shame , Amex should be ashamed of how they treat their customers and their whole fraud process. Just needed to say, Amex dont care if your wealthy or poor, they are terrible with their process and to their customers.
Similar story here – I’m an attorney who runs a small luxury goods business on the side. We purchased jewelry from eBay and the seller sent an empty box. We’ve been fighting with Amex for more than half a year now and I think we’ve just about exhausted all our appeals. Trying to determine our next course of action, including but not limited to actions against Paypal and eBay. Thanks for having the courage to publish such a resourceful post. Have you filed complaints with the FTC, etc.? Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
I missed the FTC cut-off. Looking into legal options at this point.
Might only be tangentially related to your case, but it looks like there’s a class action against Amex pending in SDNY, filed in June. It alleges Truth in Lending Act violations related to Amex’s failure to disclose to cardmembers that they might be giving up rights when they call Amex to open a dispute rather than going through the procedure that the FTC outlines (which requires consumers to snail-mail in a billing dispute).
Hey! I would like to talk to you to see how this ended. Just curious how you solved the problem and if Amex did right or not. I am having a little issue with them.
Just read this and the comments. Awful situation – sorry to hear. I hope you escalated to the Office of the Chairman/CEO and/or Executive Customer Relations within both companies.