‘Handbags and Gladrags’

Getting your money back on those Christmas purchases

We all spend more than we mean to at Christmas. To reduce your Christmas debt hangover think about the way you pay for those purchases. You might be able to get your money back for unwanted or faulty goods.

Getting your money back:

If you paid by card or PayPal

If you can’t get your money back from the seller first you might be able to ask your card provider or PayPal to help. You can do this if you paid by debit or credit card or by PayPal and:

  • your order hasn’t arrived
  • your order is faulty or not as described
  • the seller has gone out of business

If you paid by debit card

Check your card provider’s website for how to get your money back – you might need to look for ‘disputed transactions’. If you can’t find it, tell them you want to use the ‘chargeback scheme’. Chargeback is when your card provider asks the seller’s bank to refund the money to your account. If successful, you’ll get back the amount you paid by card. Do this as soon as possible as there are time limits on when you can ask. If the seller disagrees with your claim, ask your card provider how to appeal under the chargeback scheme.

If you paid by credit card

What you can do depends on how much the item cost. If the item cost £100 or less you may be able to use the ‘chargeback scheme’. If the item cost more than £100 but less than £30,000 tell your credit card company that you want to make a claim under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This is called a ‘section 75 claim’. Using section 75 could help you get back:

  • the full amount of the item
  • the cost of repairing it
  • an amount to reflect that the item or service wasn’t satisfactory or
  • compensation if the faulty item caused damage

Make your claim to the company which sends your statements. If you’re not the main cardholder, you can’t make a section 75 claim but you could ask them to do it for you. You don’t have to complain to the seller before making a section 75 claim but you should make a section 75 claim when you can’t complain to the seller. You can do both at the same time but you can only get your money back from either the seller or the card company, not both.

If you didn’t buy directly from the seller

You can’t use section 75 if you paid through a third party – like PayPal, Amazon third-party sellers, or a group buying company like Groupon. Check the third party’s complaints procedure or consider using alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

If you paid by PayPal

If the item you bought doesn’t match its description or you didn’t receive it, report your dispute on Paypal’s website. You must do this within 6 months of paying. If reporting your dispute doesn’t work, you might be able to use chargeback if there’s no money in your PayPal account and you used your debit or credit card to pay through PayPal.

If you still haven’t got your money back:

You can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service. You need either a letter from the seller saying that there’s nothing more they can do (a ‘letter of deadlock’); or you didn’t get a decision letter / letter of deadlock within 8 weeks.

The content above is only a snapshot of some of your consumer rights over Christmas. If you want to know more visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer. If you want to make a consumer complaint ring the Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506 and ask for advice.

Our thanks to Coventry Citizens Advice (CCA) for submitting this article to us. For more information, contact your local CA offices or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk.