The “Chargeback” Procedure to Obtain a Refund

Have you paid a European seller for a good or service by credit card and he has not respected his commitments and does not respond to your reminders? A product you ordered on a Spanish website is a counterfeit? Are you a victim of a hidden subscription? In certain cases, you can demand reimbursement for the sums paid via the “chargeback” procedure.

What is the chargeback procedure?

The chargeback procedure allows a consumer who has paid by card to go back on their payment in the event of a breach of duty by a professional and to be directly refunded free of charge by the card company or the bank.

The revocation of a payment has been possible for many years thanks to multiple European directives.

But certain credit card companies like Visa or Mastercard went further by offering reimbursement of costs paid by card in even more cases than are provided in European laws.

Contact your bank to demand a chargeback

To demand a refund via chargeback, contact your bank. Chargeback is actually offered to the banks by credit card companies (Visa, Mastercard…) and it is your bank who requests it in your name.

To present your chargeback demand to your card company, a summary of your complaint as well as a “Reason Code” are required. The Reason Code is a number corresponding to your complaint.

Examples: code 13.1 with Visa for non-delivery of a good or service, code 4840 with Mastercard for a fraudulent transaction.

You will find these various codes in the general sales conditions of your credit card brand or on their website (examples: Codes for Visa; Codes for Mastercard). 

Good to know:

Certain card companies refuse to handle chargeback demands coming directly from consumers. Therefore, you must contact your bank.

What to do if my bank refuses to demand a chargeback?

If your bank is not familiar with this procedure or judges that is not up to them to “interfere in a commercial dispute relating to the execution of a sales contract or provision of a service once the payment has already been executed”, you may send them this article.

At the same time, contact your credit card company to try to get some help unblocking the situation.

How long to react?

React quickly and if possible within 30 days after the purchase or order concerned. Some credit card companies do not offer chargeback 90 or 120 days after the payment. 

How to react in case of a problem?

  • First try to find a solution with the professional directly, by writing if possible.
  • In case of a dispute with a professional established in another EU country, the United Kingdom, Iceland, or Norway, do not hesitate to contact us. Attention, we do not intervene in cases of fraud.
  • If the foreign professional does not react, refuses to reimburse you or deliver to you, goes bankrupt, send a demand of reimbursement via chargeback to your bank or to the card company.
  • If your bank refuses to reimburse you, contact the alternative dispute resolution body (for Germany you can find those bodies here: Dispute with financial institutions: consumer credits, money transfers or investments.

Chargeback and stop payment: What are the differences?

Generally, you cannot revoke the payment order that you have completed by credit card once it has been received. You can in most cases, however, oppose a credit card payment in the certain following circumstances:

  • Loss or theft of your card
  • Fraudulent use of your card or its data, for example you still have your card but its number and expiration date have been stolen and used fraudulently as a result of piracy. In this case, contest the fraudulent debits in writing to your bank as soon as you can (upon receipt of the account statements) and at the latest within 13 months for a debit in the EU, Lichtenstein, Iceland, and Norway or within 70 days for a fraudulent payment outside the European Economic Area
  • Reorganisation or liquidation by the professional on the day of the payment. The stop payment is only possible as long as the cost of the operation has not yet been credited on the professional’s account.
  • If you have carried out a payment without knowing the exact amount and the amount debited is greater than what you expected in view of the circumstances and the good ordered or services contracted, for example if you were a victim of a hidden subscription. In certain cases, you need to present your refund demand to your bank within 8 weeks after the sum was debited.

Consider insurance linked to your credit card

With your credit card, you might have insurance that may be useful to you in case of problems during an online purchase (“distance purchasing” guarantee, for example). Consult the guarantees and conditions of this insurance policy. You can ask your bank for a copy of this or download it directly from the website of your credit card company. 

However, these guarantees are often capped or include a deductible, or even exclude a certain number of goods and services (vehicles, jewellery, goods acquired on auction sites, digital data, etc.) or are limited to non-delivery or even the delivery of a non-conforming good.

Please note that the time limits for reporting a claim may vary depending on the card and its conditions. Please follow the terms and conditions of these conditions carefully.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Innovation Council and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.