Why are credit card providers getting your rights wrong?

by , Lead Investigative Researcher Money 19 November 2012
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Nine in ten of us have a credit card. They’re convenient, universally accepted and come with major consumer protection rights. But what happens when credit card providers get your rights wrong?

Woman looking in fear at her credit cards

We recently investigated the way credit card providers handle card disputes. Under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, credit card companies are jointly liable for any breach of contract or misrepresentation by a company you buy goods or services from.

Examples could include items you ordered but didn’t receive, or items that you did receive but weren’t what you expected. In these examples, you’d be entitled to a full refund if you paid for the goods on a credit card.

The situation with section 75

To carry out this investigation, we asked volunteers to approach a range of credit card companies with a scenario that would be covered by section 75. This is hardly a fledgling legislation, but we wanted to see whether card providers would offer full redress.

As long as you’ve bought something that’s worth more than £100 (but less than £30,000), you’ll be entitled to full redress. That’s even if you’ve only paid as little as £1 on your credit card. However, only 34% of our volunteers were told they could get full redress from the credit card provider they’d contacted.

Section 75 isn’t rocket science. And yet we were given all kinds of unhelpful advice, like being advised to call Trading Standards or even the police, who I’m sure would love to tackle cases of people being sent the wrong coloured sofas.

The average APR for a credit card is currently 18.2% – providing credit card providers with a healthy profit. As such, it’s reasonable for cardholders to expect their providers to step in and cover their losses caused by non-delivery, items or services delivered but not as described, and losses incurred through fraud.

Your credit card rights

I think it’s outrageous that so many credit card providers were unable to give clear and accurate advice on their responsibilities to those people who approached them. It’s bad enough to get stung by a rogue or incompetent trader, but to get incorrect advice when making a credit card claim is unacceptable. It’s only made worse when they try to send you back to the retailer to deal with the problem.

Isn’t it about time for the industry to give credit where credit’s due? Have you ever experienced problems when making a credit card claim?

3 comments

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John Ward

In view of the high cost of consumer credit I am glad Which? is calling the card companies to account. I think it should be mandatory for the issuers to put an explanatory document on their website – I just had a quick look – as a potential new applicant – at the Barclaycard site and could not see any references to the benefits to users of the S75 provisions let alone how to use them.

I did once attempt to exercise my rights under S75 and was fobbed-off by the card company. Eventually, after a struggle, I resolved the matter directly with the supplier but that is not always possible. The point is that credit card companies are supposed to scrutinise the firms that they allow to process payments with their card and, having satisfied themselves that they are fit to take credit card payments [for their own convenience, market share and sales volume], to stand behind them in the event of a breach of contract. Whether the terms are more favourable for “good” companies than for those with a high complaints record I do not know but there is a case for such a practice, and companies that persistently let customers down should face temporary or permanent withdrawal of the facility.

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Geoff

I had an issue with a transaction using a Tesco Mastercard but, as I attempted to resolve the issue with the supplier first of all, I exceeded their 60 day rule under their General Information on the statement before contacting them. They refused to provide any assistance as I had exceeded this time limit.. Was this legal ?

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Carol Wolstenholme

I have recently received a faulty electric golf trolley which has never worked properly. The supplier would now give me a new trolly or a refund, they wanted to keep on repairing it. I referred it to my Virgin Credit card under S75. They have been in touch with the supplier and now say that the supplier will give me a new trolley with a extended guarantee. I wanted a refund as I had lost confidence in the supplier. MBNA who act for Virgin said that they thought this was a reasonable offer.
Do I have to accept this or can I insist that I get a refund. This all happened within a short time limit.
Does anyone know the answer please

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