One of the most frustrating experiences we all encounter when making any kind of purchase is when there is a need to contact customer service. I hate calling customer service. It always seems like I have to explain myself several times to different representatives. Then I’m told about solutions — which were obvious to me to begin with and which I have already tried — that don’t work. I’m often treated as if I don’t know what I’m doing and the fact that I have a problem is a personal affront to the customer service representative (CSR).
I don’t want to imagine the frustrations we will have when there is a problem to be resolved with a mobile payment system in the mix.
The good news is that if you link a personal credit card to a mobile payment system, then all the benefits of using that credit card will be retained whether you use the plastic itself, use it online or use it in a digital or mobile payment system. Thus, the protections against fraudulent transactions are retained as well as your ability to dispute transactions quickly either via the bank’s website, mobile app or over the phone. Furthermore, if your credit card extends or doubles product warranties then that benefit is retained as well.
However, while these benefits are intended to extend to all uses of your credit card account, that does not necessarily dictate that obtaining or using those benefits is simple or easy. Be prepared to face challenges when disputing a mobile payment transaction. You might find yourself in the middle between the disinterested parties of the merchant, mobile payment provider and the bank that issued the credit card. While the law dictates your protections and rights, the technology and the contracts between the various entities can make exercising your rights or benefiting from the protections maddening.
While your bank should allow you to dispute a charge, if they only communicate with the mobile payment provider, they may be informed that the transaction seems legitimate to the provider. Only by communicating with both the mobile payment provider and the merchant is such a claim of legitimacy verified. If the merchant does not show a record of an intended purchase but the mobile payment provider does, this could indicate a fraudulent transaction. If you suspect a conflict or a lack of communication between the merchant, mobile payment provider and the bank, you may need to get involved.
- Print out copies of your statements.
- Contact the merchant to inquire about any invoices or receipts they may have in relation to the disputed charge.
- Review the agreement you made with your credit card bank and the mobile payment provider. If you don’t know what you agreed to nor the rights or privileges those contracts provide, then you won’t be able to defend your position adequately.
Another concern is that of returns. What if you need to return a product to a merchant? Does a mobile payment system make that seamless or complicated? Again, reviewing the returns policy of the merchant will be your best starting point. You need to know the parameters of returns, such as condition, time since purchase, requirements for receipt, etc. You might discover that while you can return merchandise, you might not be able to get a charge refunded back to your credit card or ATM/debit card. You might have to accept store credit or credit in the mobile payment system (which might be limited to that merchant, thus similar to store credit), which might be only be usable against any other transaction from any other supporting/supported merchant. Always ask for documentation regarding a return and the amount and means of the refund. Once you have returned the merchandise, you have no remaining leverage to get your money back without documentation.
When using a mobile payment system, how challenging is it to obtain a refund when you are dissatisfied with a nonreturnable item, such as service or a meal? You need to be aware of the refund policy of the merchant and the policy of handling and processing refunds of your mobile payment system as well as the credit/ATM/debit card. Until you have a need for a return or a refund, you won’t know exactly how challenging or simple this process will be. However, you need to be prepared to advocate for yourself. Be informed, keep your receipt records and monitor your accounts.
One additional concern is that of processing errors. When a merchant charges you the wrong amount or causes a double transaction, who should you contact first in resolving these problems? Generally, start with the merchant. Inform them of the processing error and be sure to inform them that a mobile payment system was used for the transaction. You might be the first person to have such an issue with the merchant (or at least handled by this specific salesperson), so be patient. Ask what their process is for resolving processing errors and whether they can provide you with documentation of your resolution.