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I am involved in a consumer dispute with an online merchant. Their website mentioned a 100% product guarantee, but they are unwilling to send me return instructions for returning the item in question.

I filed a dispute with my credit card issuing bank. This bank likes me a lot because I give them a lot of business and always pay early or on time. In the rare cases that I have had disputes, they usually credit me immediately and charge back the merchant.

This time the merchant has been charged back and has now sent me a nasty email indicating she intends to turn me over to the credit bureaus with a negative commment....

Um....I paid for the item, in a timely manner.

Do merchants wield this much power that they can send negative information to the credit bureaus over a consumer product dispute - NOT a financial/payment dispute?

Comments appreciated.

RS
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I don't see how a merchant could do such a thing, unless they hid some fine print legalize establishing a credit agreement with you in the order/purchase process on their website.

In other words, you don't have a credit account with the merchant, so the merchant cannot report negative performance on a credit account. You haven't given them your social security number, right?

xtn
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I do want to share my personal opinion, which is that you are in the wrong having your credit card charge back the merchant. Doesn't sound like there was anything wrong with the product. You're just allergic to it.

xtn

PS - The customers that the banks really like a lot are the ones that give them lots of business and always pay a couple of days late.

xtn
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I do want to share my personal opinion, which is that you are in the wrong having your credit card charge back the merchant. Doesn't sound like there was anything wrong with the product. You're just allergic to it.

The seller gave a guarantee on the product, and is refusing return. The seller has the ability to contest the charge back, but instead is threatening the buyer. This smells like a scam.
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The seller's guarantee on the product - if I have read both threads correctly - is only that it is "fresh" and "genuine."

Is the OP's back-charging claim with her credit card company based on the product not being fresh or genuine? Or is it based on her allergic reaction.

xtn
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RoadScholar5,

You wrote, I am involved in a consumer dispute with an online merchant. Their website mentioned a 100% product guarantee, but they are unwilling to send me return instructions for returning the item in question.

I filed a dispute with my credit card issuing bank. This bank likes me a lot because I give them a lot of business and always pay early or on time. In the rare cases that I have had disputes, they usually credit me immediately and charge back the merchant.


You have a right to do this under the Fair Credit Billing Act. However, I'm not entirely sure if it relieves you of an obligation to pay the merchant.

Also, This time the merchant has been charged back and has now sent me a nasty email indicating she intends to turn me over to the credit bureaus with a negative commment....

Um....I paid for the item, in a timely manner.

Do merchants wield this much power that they can send negative information to the credit bureaus over a consumer product dispute - NOT a financial/payment dispute?


Technically the merchant can be viewed as a creditor, so yes they can report something about you to the CRAs. In this case it sounds like she's going to claim you failed to pay for merchandise received.

Others may correct me, but I was under the impression that the credit card merchant agreement forbids this type of action if the credit card company finds against the merchant in a dispute. The reason for this is that the Fair Credit Billing Act allows you to hold the credit card company jointly liable for damages incurred by the merchant. In this case, you could have *theoretically* sued them for damages associated with the merchant's failure to honor her warranty. (Though it sounds like at least the explicit warranty fairly ambiguous.)

However, the ability to charge back against a merchant account is not protected by Federal Law. It is a contractual right held by the credit card company in the merchant agreement. I was under the impression that such contracts held clauses that covered the credit card companies in cases where the credit card company would have been liable under the FCBA. I was also under the impression that such clauses prevent the merchant from taking adverse actions against you because such actions could be treated as damages by a court, which could once again invoke provisions of the FCBA.

However I'm not a lawyer and I've never actually read a merchant agreement, so I don't know the details of that agreement ... so what I'm telling you about that agreement is just hearsay.

As a course of action, I think you should forward her email to your credit card company and CC her so she knows you're keeping them involved. You should also offer once again to return the merchandise if it will satisfy the dispute. If neither are acceptable, you may have to fight it with the CRAs ... or retain an attorney and see if a lawsuit (or the threat of one) might be in order.

BTW, if you had an allergic reaction to the contents of a skin-care product and appropriate warnings were not clearly shown by the seller and/or on the product, you may have a claim of defective merchandise and an implied warranty of merchandise-ability. Indeed from what little I understand, failing to provide appropriate warnings could expose the seller to negligence / product liability claims from people that are seriously injured by these skin-care items. Proper testing and labeling are necessary in the USA to avoid the tort claims that can ensue.

FWIW, pretty much anyone can report on your credit report. They are not supposed to maliciously lie on them. That's called liable. Unlike most cases of liable, the process of resolving disputes on a credit report is regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (and some state statutes). Credit reporting agencies and businesses are protected from most liable claims by this Act in exchange for following a strict set of rules for handling disputes. When they fail to follow the rules, the FCRA provides for legal fees (uncommon in most civil cases), statutory and in some cases punitive damages.

If the merchant files a claim with the FCRAs, you should be able to file a dispute and win with the credit card company's ruling as evidence. (You will need their ruling in writing.) If the CRA(s) rule against you, you should be able to sue them and the merchant for damages. Of course it might be worth consulting a lawyer if it gets to that point. However, in many states you can pursue such litigation in small claims court without a lawyer. And obviously just because you *CAN* sue doesn't mean you will win...

But at least now you know there are rules and a process for this kind of thing. Some might argue that it might not be entirely fair; but it's pretty good and it's also what we have to work with.

Regards,
- Joel
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Maybe I missed something, but where did OP say that they were allergic to the item as the reason for return? Unless there is a missing post, we don't know what the item was, the reason for the return, or the amount involved.

Seems to me, that if OP followed procedure with the credit card to contest the charge and the bank credited her back the amount paid while the investigation takes place, the merchant doesn't have any right to do anything until the investigation is complete. As to the merchants threat to turn the account over to the credit bureaus, that makes no sense on the surface. Maybe they meant they would turn the account over to collections, since the bank withheld payment on behalf of OP.

The presumption is that the investigation ruled in favor of the OP, and the merchant is not happy and is trying to do an end run around their agreement with the credit card company for dispute resolution. That the merchant has communicated only by email and not by letter makes me think they are all blow.

Fuskie
Who has difficulty with the claim that the bank loves the OP because they pay their bills on time or early since they aren't earning any interest on the account, and the process of immediately crediting the account is standard policy during a dispute, and will be reversed if they determine the dispute to be invalid and reinstate the charge and merchant payment...
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Maybe I missed something, but where did OP say that they were allergic to the item as the reason for return? Unless there is a missing post, we don't know what the item was, the reason for the return, or the amount involved.

It was over on the Living Below Your Means board

http://boards.fool.com/consumer-issues-30425089.aspx

Nancy
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File a complaint with the BBB online.

http://www.bbb.org/us/

Also check to see if this business has many complaints against them.
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File a complaint with the BBB online.

BBB is useless.
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The seller's guarantee on the product - if I have read both threads correctly - is only that it is "fresh" and "genuine."

This is true, so I was wondering as well if OP had a case for a refund/return. However, this was apparently also part of the website text:

With global support and our 110% moneyback guarantee - you simply have nothing to lose!"

This phrasing seems to indicate that you can return for any reason - "nothing to lose." But the OP "lost" on her purchase because either the product is defective and made her break out, or because she is sensitive/allergic to the product.

Still, I'm sure whatever is in the fine print would probably determine the actual limits of the guarantee.
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I googled and found the company. Also on the site they say:

We offer complete peace of mind when it comes to paying for your products with a complete money back guarantee.

They're all over the place on the site saying things like no risk and complete money back guarantee. They should honor their advertising.
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Jennlee222,

You wrote, I googled and found the company. Also on the site they say...

I did that yesterday too. I also found a link on the product's manufacturer's website where the merchant is mentioned. They apparently claim this distributor is unauthorized and may be selling a knock-off (fake / fraudulent) product. In that light, the allergic reaction and the merchant's attempts to intimidate make perfect sense to me.

- Joel
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BBB is useless.

I used them before and was successful 2 times against a fake presidental dollar firm in Canton, OH I also complained to the BBB against ABC Nissan for consistantly pestitering me on the phone and not wanting to take me off their phone list.
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BBB is useless.

I used them before and was successful 2 times against a fake presidental dollar firm in Canton, OH I also complained to the BBB against ABC Nissan for consistantly pestitering me on the phone and not wanting to take me off their phone list.


Surprising that they actually have done something.

There are quite a few complaints that businesses have to buy good ratings. Ratings are quickly upgraded once companies pay up.

Regardless of how complaints are "resolved", once resolved BBB representatives can't discuss the complaint. Businesses with large number of complaints are reported as good because they have paid and complaints "answered."

BBB ratings are unreliable, and consumers only have access to edited data.
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Regards,
- Joel (badass)


Fixed it for you.
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<<Others may correct me, but I was under the impression that the credit card merchant agreement forbids this type of action if the credit card company finds against the merchant in a dispute. The reason for this is that the Fair Credit Billing Act allows you to hold the credit card company jointly liable for damages incurred by the merchant. In this case, you could have *theoretically* sued them for damages associated with the merchant's failure to honor her warranty. (Though it sounds like at least the explicit warranty fairly ambiguous.)>>

According my card issuing bank? no...

Thanks for the input, RS
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