Consumers Association of Singapore launches guide on how to get credit card refunds

Case launched its charge-back guide on Nov 27, basing it on the guidelines of major international credit card providers and local banks. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE - The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) has launched a guide to help credit card users cancel a charge if a purchase has gone wrong.

The consumer watchdog launched its chargeback guide on Monday (Nov 27), basing it on the guidelines of major international credit card providers and local banks.

A chargeback is a type of consumer protection that allows credit card users to dispute a charge and reverse the transaction if a purchase goes wrong.

Case said in a statement that this was in response to "a lack of clear and specific directions for consumers on how to file a chargeback application on card issuers' (banks') websites".

Case said it expects this guide to be useful for those who use credit cards to buy things such as beauty or travel packages, fitness club memberships, home renovation services, as well as large items such as cars and furniture.

Said Mr Loy York Jiun, Case's executive director: "Case has witnessed a number of high-profile businesses ceasing operations abruptly, such as Five Star Tours and California Fitness, leaving many consumers high and dry, with some having made full payment or close to full payment for their tour package or fitness club membership."

He added: "We note that it is fairly common to see consumers making payments through credit cards, and hence, we compiled a chargeback guide to educate consumers that if they pay by their credit cards, they have the right to dispute a charge for non-delivery of goods or services due to business insolvency under the existing charge-back mechanism."

A flowchart from the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case)'s recently-launched guide, showing how the chargeback process for credit card works. GRAPHIC: CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE

Most of the time, customers can ask for a chargeback within 120 days from when the transaction took place if they encounter non-delivery, faulty goods and services, errors in credit card transactions or unauthorised transactions.

Each of these situations, however, requires consumers to do different things, which Case aims to explain in its guide.

Case said: "As Singapore continues to push for a Smart Nation and the adoption of cashless payment systems, we can expect credit cards to continue to be one of the preferred payment methods. As such, we would like to highlight the chargeback mechanism for credit cards."

However, it added that chargebacks may not be possible for people who buy goods or services with their credit cards under instalment payment plans, as their own banks would have already fully paid the business on the customer's behalf.

The customer would then need to pay instalments to the bank unless the business agrees to end the plan and refund the money to the bank.

In its statement, Case also said it wants "to strongly urge all card issuers to provide a step-by-step guide on how to lodge a chargeback claim prominently on their websites".

The full advisory, with examples of chargeback types and how one should ask for them, can be found here.

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