Consumer complaints to our I-Team have skyrocketed during the pandemic. Many consumers tell us they've paid for products and services they didn't get. But you can lean on your credit card company to help you out.
Remember Christmas 2019? Back when our lives were still "normal," it was an exceptional Christmas for Tammi Schilling's family. She gifted the entire family a trip to Hawaii.
"Everybody got a Christmas card saying, 'Grandma's taking you to Hawaii!' and they were all excited," said Schilling.
She bought the airline tickets on a third-party travel site called Flights Mojo. For all 14 of them, the flights cost $7,600.
When the pandemic hit, the flights were cancelled. So Schilling tried to get a refund from Flights Mojo, but couldn't. She says she even had proof that the airline had refunded Flights Mojo, but the travel site wasn't passing along the money to her.
"I describe that as stealing, basically," said Schilling.
Flights Mojo didn't respond to the I-Team's request for comment.
But Schilling had paid for the tickets with her Chase credit card, so she disputed the charge. It's a right you have under federal law -- when you don't receive a good or service, or maybe it's defective, you can dispute the charge with your credit card company, and it's required to investigate. It has two billing cycles to look into the dispute, and while that's happening, you don't have to pay that portion of your bill. But Schilling was shocked when Chase sided with Flights Mojo.
"I felt like Chase needed to step up and help me," said Schilling. "I'm their customer and they weren't helping me." Kevin Brasler with the consumer advocate group Consumers' Checkbook surveyed consumers a few years back about their experience with credit card disputes. He says nine times out of 10, credit card issuers sided with the consumer.
"They're interested in keeping their card members happy over the interest of the businesses themselves." said Brasler.
He suggests you try to resolve the issue with the merchant first. He says credit card companies like to see this. And if the merchant isn't budging, Brasler says to let them know you'll be disputing the charge - they pay a fee to the credit card company when they lose a dispute.
"We've often found that consumers, if they go to the company and the company won't budge, just by threatening a chargeback, often the company will relent and give the person their money back," said Brasler.
But Schilling did all of this, and Chase denied her refund. So the I-Team reached out to the bank to ask why. It didn't say, but it refunded her money. In a statement, Chase simply said: "We always do everything we can to work with customers to find a solution. After re-evaluating the initial decision, we provided a full refund."
Finally, Brasler says while it's rare, there's something you should know about chargebacks: If a credit card company sides with you and gives you a refund, but the merchant feels they've been wronged, they can take you to court to try and get their money.