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PostHeaderIcon Your Order Gets Screwed Up. Now What?

Article Source: Online Shopping Store

* The following guest article is by Michael Dolen. He analyzes credit card offers on CreditCardForum, a site he started nearly 4 years ago. His most recent blogpost is a list of the top ten cards for 2012. If you are in the market for a new credit card and all of the different interest rates and reward programs have your head spinning, check out his site to make the process much easier.

Other than perhaps the occasional delay in shipment, chances are that 99% of your online orders are completed without any major hiccups. But what about the other 1% of the time… when your merchandise is damaged, not as described – or worse yet – you don’t even receive it?! What rights and protections are you entitled to?

Fortunately if things go haywire, you have a number of safety nets to fall back on, thanks to your credit/debit card (assuming that’s how you paid, which most likely is the case with online orders).

Safety Net #1: The Dispute Process

Contrary to popular belief, the biggest advantage of paying with a credit card is not always the cash back or airline miles you’re earning. Rather, it’s the laws which protect you in the event of a dispute.

There are federal laws for debit and credit card liability when they are used fraudulently:

  • Credit Cards – You maximum liability by law can be no more than $50. However, most credit card companies do not enforce this “deductible” and instead, give you $0 liability. There’s only been a couple times I have heard from someone on my forum that had to pay that $50 when blatant fraud occured.
  • Debit Cards – With debit cards, the law is a bit different in that your liability depends on how quickly you report it (for details, please visit the above link to the FTC). That being said, debit transactions which are processed as “credit” (meaning you didn’t have to enter your PIN) are generally covered by Visa and MasterCard’s zero liability policies.

Keep in mind the above laws and policies apply to unauthorized charges. If you did indeed receive your merchandise but it wasn’t as advertised, then that would be a different kind of a dispute for “quality of goods and services.” You still are entitled to some legal protections but it can be a bit complicated. To learn about them you can go here.

Safety Net #2: Purchase Protection Benefit

Many credit cards include a free benefit called “purchase protection” which protect eligible items against theft and accidental damage during the first 90 days from date of purchase.

  • American Express – All of their charge and credit cards include this benefit.
  • Visa – This benefit is included on their “Signature” tier cards.
  • MasterCard – Most “World” and “World Elite” come with this perk.
  • Discover – Not offered.

The rules and exclusions vary by card issuer, so check with yours to find out what is and isn’t covered. From my experience, the best coverage is through American Express. I have filed several purchase protection claims over the years and the process couldn’t have been easier. For example, when my blender was broken, AmEx refunded me the money when the merchant wouldn’t.

Safety Net #3: Extended Warranty Benefit

This benefit comes in handy if you purchase a product that was of questionable quality and later on, it breaks down.

If a retailer or manufacturer only included a 6 or 12 month warranty and you bought the item 13 months ago, normally you would be out of luck. But many credit cards include an automatic extended warranty benefit free of charge. It generally works like this…

For eligible items that come with a manufacturer’s warranty of 3 (or 5) years or less, the card issuer will mirror the length of coverage, up to 1 year extra. For example, if the normal warranty was 6 months, then with the credit card you would have an additional 6 months. For a 1 year warranty, it would be another 1 year of coverage. On a 3 year warranty, it would be 1 additional year.

  • American Express – Just like the Purchase Protection, AmEx includes this on all of their cards issued in the US.
  • Visa – They have more hoops to jump through so their version isn’t on par with AmEx, but it’s still pretty good. They call their benefit Warranty Manager Service. It’s included on Visa Signature cards.
  • MasterCard – Just like the other benefit, this is found on most of their World and World Elite tier cards.
  • Discover – Not offered.

Now of course you’re probably wondering what the exclusions are? Well unfortunately they don’t publish all the extended warranty details online for me to link to, but this AmEx example is more or less what you can expect.


There’s no denying that getting stiffed or screwed with an online order sucks big time. Fortunately, you have number of weapons in your arsenal to protect yourself, assuming you paid using a credit card or a good debit card.


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