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Can your credit card company explain your legal rights?

Figure leaning on credit card

Not only are credit cards a convenient way to pay, but they can also offer legal protection if something goes wrong. The Consumer Credit Act has given us this protection for four decades. So why are many providers still getting your rights wrong?

Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, credit card companies are jointly liable for any breach of contract by a company you buy goods or services from. This includes misrepresentation, too.

This means that if, for example, a retailer goes bust and you don’t receive your goods, you may be able to get your money back.

But the findings of our investigation suggest that many credit card companies are failing to correctly explain the rules around disputed card payments. Worryingly, this is the third time in three years we’ve identified gaps in staff knowledge.

Raising a credit card dispute

Under Section 75, you can be protected for an item’s full value. That is even if you’ve only used your credit card for part of the payment. This applies as long as the item costs between £100 and £30,000.

But only a third of advisers correctly explained to our researchers that even if they’d only paid part of their £600 total purchase by credit card, it would be possible to make a claim for the full amount.

Your rights under the Consumer Credit Act

To make a claim, you simply need to contact your credit card provider. But some of our researchers were told to go elsewhere for help. Erroneous directions included Citizens Advice, Trading Standards, the Financial Ombudsman Service and even the police!

Convo commenter John Ward told us he’d had an equally disappointing experience when he approached his card provider:

‘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.’

Card providers must do better

It might not have the catchiest name, but Section 75 provides great protection to you and me. It’s a well-established law, too. We think it’s wrong that credit card company staff seem to have such shaky knowledge of it.

After all, giving incorrect or unclear information could potentially leave people out of pocket by deterring them from pursuing valid claims.

Have you ever made a claim under Section 75? How satisfied were you with the way your provider handled it?

Comments
Guest

Jenny, it would help if you could amend what you’ve written to include something on whether people who pay fraudsters money, such as to copycat websites for government services like passport checking and renewal, Telephone Preference Service scams, the Microsoft telephone scam, and even things like buying fake goods online, will be able to get their money back this way.

What consumers also need is for Section 75 to apply to debit cards.

Guest

Protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 was introduced in the early 1970s in order to prevent lenders chosen by retailers under hire purchase agreements from escaping liability for breach of contract by the retailer, often where the retailer would vanish, leaving the lender as the only surviving party. It was never intended to cover credit cards, which were very rare at the time the legislation was enacted. However, the protection applies to any form of borrowing where the retailer has a direct relationship with the lender, even if the lender was the consumer’s choice and not the retailer’s choice and not only to hire purchase, and is nowadays most commonly applied to credit cards. As debit cards are not a means of borrowing or credit, they will never fall under the Consumer Credit Act, and nor do charge cards where you have to pay the balance in full every month (e.g. some American Express cards). The only improvement that consumers could hope for would be for the £100-£30,000 scope to be widened and for inclusion where a financial intermediary is involved, e.g. PayPal. However, given that the benefit for credit card holders is an unintended consequence of 40-year-old legislation, I wouldn’t expect anything.

Guest

I’ve made a few Section 75 claims as well as plenty of non-Section 75 disputed transactions. I’ve noticed a massive difference between card issuers in the way they handle disputes. American Express and Capital One are excellent, handling everything by e-mail, but some such as Santander and Barclaycard unreasonably make the customer jump through hoops in order to claim. Capital One recently paid out around £3,000 to me on a Section 75 claim for a faulty badly-fitted boiler after the company that fitted it had gone out of business. They took their time to ascertain the cause of the problem, which affected liability, but once this was established, they made it easy for me.

Guest

And Jenny, if someone uses Chargeback for their debit or credit card for a faulty or misdescribed good, say against a big retailer like Amazon, will it affect their credit rating, and will they be able do do anything if the retailer then decides to stop them from ever buying something from them again?

Guest

Hi Wev,

The good news is that raising a chargeback claim will have no effect on your credit rating. Your credit file is simply a record of any credit agreements you have, along with a record of whether or not you’ve kept up with repayments. It’ll also include information about where you are registered to vote and anyone you have joint financial accounts with. Section 75 or chargeback claims are not recorded. And raising a chargeback claim won’t affect your ability to buy from the retailer in future either. Hope that helps.

Guest

Thank you. What about people who use their card to pay fraudsters like copycat websites and Microsoft telephone scam for misdescribed services? Is it acceptable to use both chargeback and Section 75 to get the money back?

Guest

Jenny?

Guest

As I understand it S75 protection can easily be lost:
1) If you pay a 3rd party rather than the supplier i.e. Book a holiday through a travel agent and pay the travel agent rather than the holiday company.
2) The CC used is an additional card i.e. CC account in wife’s name , card used is jusband’s additonal card. CC accounts in joint names do not appear to be available.
3) 3rd party pays i.e. parent pays using their card for online purchase made by son/daugther.

It would be nice to have some clear guidance from Which? on what they think the “rules” mean.

Guest

rarrar – If I buy goods then it is the retailer rather than the manufacturer that is responsible if there is a problem. I assume that if someone booked a holiday through a travel agent then it would be the agent that would be responsible rather than the companies providing the holiday (travel, accommodation, etc.).

I am not saying I’m right, but I have successfully claimed compensation from a travel agent for unsatisfactory service when my luggage was