Money Matters » How to Dispute a Recurring Transaction

How to Dispute a Recurring Transaction

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Magazine subscriptions, beauty membership subscriptions, even Internet service are all types of recurring transactions people have charged to their credit cards.

When you cancel or do not renew your subscription, the merchant should no longer charge your credit card for service. In a perfect world that would be the case.

However, not every merchant immediately stops charging your credit card upon cancellation or failure to renew. If this happens to you, there are steps you can take to dispute the new charges.


How to Dispute a Recurring Transaction

Contact the Merchant

Being charged again after you canceled or failed to renew membership/subscription could be a simple oversight or computer glitch on the merchant’s end. If you contact the merchant as soon as the new transaction appears, they may issue you a credit immediately.

If they promise to credit the account within a certain timeframe, allow the merchant this period to issue a refund. If not refund is issued then contact your issuing bank.


What You Will Need

Before contacting your issuing bank, make sure you have the following on hand (preferably in writing):

  • Proof of cancellation or the date of cancellation
  • Date(s) of contact with the merchant
  • Date of return or proof of return for any merchandise received

When it comes to canceling a subscription involving merchandise that was received, you will need to return the merchandise. More than likely this will be at your own cost. Unfortunately, your credit card bank cannot dispute return shipping charges for you.

Contacting Your Bank or Financial Institution

When you contact your bank, make sure you have all of the information needed on hand. You can call, write in, email, or even dispute your transaction online.

In some cases, just providing the details such as date of cancellation and if applicable the date of return if the merchandise was received is enough for your bank to process a chargeback. If your dispute involves returning merchandise your bank may need you to wait 15 to 30 days to give the merchant a chance to issue a credit before they process a chargeback on your behalf.

In the meantime, if more recurring charges hit your account, you may dispute them as well using the same information (excluding proof of return) used for your initial dispute. If another shipment of merchandise comes, you will need to return that and supply the date of return or proof of return. Again, your bank will process the chargeback on your behalf.


Understanding the Chargeback Process

Once the chargeback has been processed, a chargeback credit will be placed on your account for the amount(s) in dispute. The information is passed on to the merchant’s bank for review. If it looks like you properly canceled your membership or subscription and returned any merchandise received then the merchant’s bank will not contest the chargeback.

However, if the merchant lets their bank know that you did not cancel according to their policy, the merchandise was not returned, and/or the merchant already issued a credit, then their bank will contest the chargeback. If credit was issued then your chargeback credit will be reversed. If you supplied sufficient proof that merchandise was returned your bank can still continue with the chargeback.

Unfortunately, if you cannot prove that you canceled according to the merchant’s policy or if you did not return the merchandise received then the chargeback may be reversed and your credit removed. If your bank cannot continue the dispute on your behalf, you may need to seek a remedy outside of your bank.

Keep in mind there are rules your bank must follow when it comes to disputing certain transactions and they can only take things so far.

When it comes to canceling a recurring charge, make sure you cancel according to the merchant’s cancellation policy. If possible, get proof that you did cancel. Always return any merchandise received for the new charges. These are very important to making sure your chargeback goes through smoothly.

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