Financial Rights Legal Centre
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Chargebacks

This fact sheet is for information only. It is recommended that you get legal advice about your situation.

CASE STUDY

Carrie saved up for 6 months to go on a bus tour of Australia with a travel agency. Carrie paid for the tour in full about 6 weeks before the tour started, using her credit card. About 2 weeks before she was due to leave , the travel agency went into liquidation and Carrie was it was unlikely she would get her money back.

Carrie rang her bank to explain the situation and her bank  said it would “chargeback” the transaction. Carrie confirmed this in writing to the bank including details of:

  • The amount of the transaction,
  • The date it was paid
  • The proposed itinerary including the date of the tour
  • A copy of the letter from the Administrator of the travel agency confirming that it is now in liquidation.

Carrie kept a copy of the letter. Carrie was pleased to see a credit on her next credit card statement for the amount she had paid the travel agency.

WHAT IS A CHARGEBACK?

Chargebacks are available for credit card and debit card transactions through card schemes (such as Visa and Mastercard).

These card schemes allow your financial institution (your bank, credit union etc) to claim a chargeback directly from the merchant’s (shop or service provider’s) bank, in certain situations such as:

  • The merchant did not deliver the goods or services to you
  • The goods or services were not as described, counterfeit or defective
  • You cancelled the recurring transaction
  • The merchant became insolvent
  • When the transaction was unauthorised or fraudulent (See also our Unauthorised transaction fact sheet)

A chargeback allows the disputed transaction to be reversed, and the money paid back into your account.

Financial institutions only have a limited amount of time to claim a chargeback, so you need to let them know as early as possible that you need a chargeback. The timeframe and the rules vary depending on the credit card scheme.

If you are claiming a chargeback due to a coronavirus related cancellation, you should read this factsheet from the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA, a free consumer complaints service) on how they deal with such complaints: https://www.afca.org.au/coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-support-hub/banking-and-finance/factsheet-chargebacks

HOW TO REQUEST A CHARGEBACK

As you only have a certain amount of time to request a chargeback you should request it in writing as soon as possible.  However you should also try and resolve the issue with the merchant first, as this can often be the quickest and easiest way to resolve the issue.  You may also need consumer law advice about where you stand with the merchant.

To request a chargeback, write to your financial institution (that issued your card) stating that:

  • You are requesting a chargeback of a transaction on your credit or debit card
  • Give details of the transaction including the amount and the date
  • Give the reasons why you wish to chargeback the transaction.

Keep a copy of the letter.

WHAT IF YOUR FINANCIAL INSTITUTION REFUSES TO CHARGEBACK THE TRANSACTION?

You can lodge a complaint with your financial institution – search for contact details here: https://afca.org.au/make-a-complaint/findafinancialfirm

Your financial institution should respond to your complaint within 30 days.

If it is not resolved, you should make a complaint to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA, 1800 931 678, www.afca.org.au)

AFCA is a free consumer complaints service, and you can see our factsheet here for information about how complaints are run Dispute resolution fact sheet

AFCA will consider whether your financial institution acted reasonably to claim a chargeback for you, and can consider issues such as if your reason for the chargeback was valid and your request was made within the required time limits.

If a chargeback is rejected by the merchant’s bank, the card scheme makes the final decision. AFCA cannot review the card scheme’s decision, only the actions of your financial institution.

You should always lodge your complaint as soon as it is clear that you cannot resolve your dispute with your financial institution as time limits apply to your right to complain. Y

Last updated: March 2022