Credit Card Refund

Dear Dr. Per Cap: 

I did most of my holiday shopping online using a credit card. However, one gift for my aunt was never delivered. I’ve asked for a refund, but the company has only offered to send out a new package. That’s no good because the holidays are long gone. How can I get my money back?


Unhappy Customer

Dear Unhappy Customer,

I’ve experienced a similar issue more than once. Some online retailers will push back hard on refunds, even if it means permanently losing a customer and a scathing Google or Amazon review. While it’s frustrating, you might want to give the business a chance to rectify its mistake before pushing harder for the refund, just to avoid the headache.

Have you thought about asking for a steep discount on the original purchase? Or maybe see if they’ll throw in some extra stuff for free?

Of course, if you’re dead-set on a refund and the business won’t budge, you’ll need to take a different approach. Stop hassling with the seller and contact your credit card company immediately to dispute the transaction. A good credit-card customer service department will get on this quickly and initiate a claim. They’ll ask for details about the purchase and encourage you to work with the seller to fix the problem, if you haven’t already. 

The latter is important because your card company considers a transaction dispute as a last resort, like a safety on a football team who takes over when the ball gets through the defensive line.

Card services will review the claim and if they determine you’re in the right, they’ll instruct the seller to pay up. Hopefully, the seller will do this quickly because they often take a credit card company’s business more seriously than an individual customer’s business.

However, I will warn that it can take a long time if the seller is unresponsive. In that case, card services will wait a few months before closing out the claim and crediting your account for the amount of the disputed transaction.

One more thing to note, it really pays to have a good credit card in situations like this. One that offers solid customer service, in addition to a competitive annual percentage rate (APR).

For folks that use a payment app, like PayPal, the transaction dispute process is similar. Third-party e-commerce websites, like Amazon, have a dispute process, as well.

Ask Dr. Per Cap is a program funded by First Nations Development Institute with assistance from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. For more information, visit To send a question to Dr. Per Cap, email