How to Resolve Ecommerce Disputes
With more business being done online, you are likely to encounter more e-commerce disputes. In order to resolve the dispute, you first need to gather information about the transaction. Then you need to reach out to the company and report your problem. If you are unhappy with the company’s resolution, you should contact your credit card company.
Collect information about the transaction.Before contacting the e-commerce company, you should gather all relevant information about your purchase. Look for a packing slip or invoice which came with the goods. An invoice might also have been emailed to you. You also can log into your online account or look at your credit card statement. Get the following information:
- the transaction number (if available)
- the date of purchase
- your method of payment
- how much you paid
Preserve the product.You might be able to return the product for a refund, so you need to preserve it. Your probably should not use the product. Instead of immediately throwing it away, store it in your closet.
- You should store it in the box the product was shipped in. This way, you won’t need to find a box when you return the product to the seller.
- Also keep the bubble wrap or foam peanuts in the box as well.
- Save all documents that came with the item, such as a packing slip or warranty. You can tape these documents to the outside of the box and then slip them inside when you mail the item back.
Find who sold the item.The seller might not be the online vendor. For example, if you bought something on eBay or Amazon's marketplace, you should dispute the product with the company that actually sells the good on those websites. Accordingly, you need to find the seller.
- On Amazon, for example, you can go to “Your Amazon” and then “Your Orders.” Your orders will be listed chronologically.
- The merchant who sells the item should appear on the right.
Contact the seller of the item.You should try to resolve the dispute with the merchant that manufactures and sells the item.
- On Amazon, for example, you can look at your orders and click on the “Contact seller” button beside the item you are disputing. You can then send an email to the used bookstore or other merchant who sold you the item through Amazon.
- Explain what is wrong with the item and what you want—a refund, a replacement, etc.
Write a letter to the merchant.If the merchant does not immediately offer a refund or a replacement, then follow up with a dispute letter. You should set up the letter like a regular business letter.
- In the body of the letter, you should state the day you bought the item and how. Also explain what is wrong with the product.
- State that you want a refund or that you want the defective goods replaced.
- Include a copy of your receipt or invoice. Also include your phone number below your signature in case the merchant wants to call you.
- Send the letter certified mail, return receipt requested. Be sure to keep a copy for your records.
Disputing the Transaction with the Vendor
Log into your account.You should go to the web retailer where you bought the item. This might be Amazon, eBay, or another store. Log into your account (if you have one). If you don’t have one, then simply go to the company’s homepage.
Find the appropriate link.Each online website should have a “Report a Problem” or similar link. After logging into your account, look for this kind of link.
- On Amazon, you can click “Your Account” and then on “Return or replace items.” It is under the “More Order Actions” heading.
- On eBay, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the “Resolution Center” link.You then can select your problem, e.g., you haven’t received the item or it didn’t match the seller’s description. If you have a different problem, click “My problem is not listed here.”
- At PayPal, you can log in and be taken to your Summary page. You should look for the link “Resolve a problem in our Resolution Center” on the left-hand side of the page. Click on it.
Provide information about the transaction.The online retailer might prompt you to enter information about the transaction. You should have already gathered this information before sitting down at your computer. The retailer or vendor will probably ask you:
- to identify the item you want to dispute (from your history of transactions)
- why you want to dispute the transaction
- any other details
Wait to hear back.The online vendor should investigate your dispute. If you do not hear back in a few days, then you should follow up.
- If the problem is not resolved in a week, then you should consider contacting your credit card company. Your credit card company can take the charge off your credit card (provided you paid with a credit card).
Return the product.You might be able to send the product back to the company. If so, you should follow the directions provided for packaging and labeling the product.
- Be sure to package your item tightly.You don’t want it to get damaged even more on the return trip back to the retailer.
- You might be provided a mailing label. For example, Amazon lets you print off a return label and affix it to your package.
Contacting Your Credit Card Company
Contact your credit card company.If you used a credit card for the transaction, then you should call your credit card company. Say that you want to dispute a transaction.
- You can call the number on the back of the card. This might be the easiest option.
- You also might be able to report a dispute on the credit card company’s website. Look at your most recent card statement to find a website address. Then look for a link to “dispute a purchase” or something to that effect.
Complete a form, if required.The credit card company might send you a form to complete. You should complete it by using a typewriter or by printing neatly in black ink. Each form is different, but you generally will be asked for the following information:
- your name and contact information
- your credit card number
- the merchant’s name
- any reference number received from the merchant
- the transaction date and posting date on your credit card
- the amount of the transaction
- why you are disputing the purchase
- the steps you have taken to resolve the dispute with the merchant
Return the form.Once you have completed the form, you should mail it back to the address provided on the form. Mail the form certified mail, return receipt requested.
- If you wrote a letter to the merchant, then you should attach a copy of the letter to your form.
- Hold onto a copy of the form for your records.
Wait to hear back.Your credit card company should investigate by contacting the e-commerce merchant. Once the credit card company hears back from the merchant, it will then evaluate the situation.
- If the merchant doesn’t respond, then the credit card company should withhold payment to them. Also, if the credit card company decides in your favor, then you will not owe the merchant any money.
- Under federal law, you can only withhold payment if the credit card purchase was for and you made the purchase in your state or, if outside your state, within 100 miles of your home.However, many credit card issuers will often waive these requirements so you should reach out to them.
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