While travelling abroad, Ravi purchased cosmetics from a small vendor after being provided a demonstration of the goods in store. He used his credit card to make the transaction. Upon returning to his accommodation and examining the goods, Ravi discovered that a number of the goods were not in sealed containers making it impossible to tell if they were new or not. Another of the products Ravi tested on himself and found that he had a bad reaction to the product.
Ravi spoke asked his credit card company what to do. They told him to return the goods and to request a refund from the vendor. The following day Ravi returned the products and asked for a refund. The store refused as the goods had been opened. Ravi left the goods on the counter. Ravi attempted to apply for a refund from his credit card company but after an internal investigation, this application was declined. Ravi complained to FSCL.
The credit card company found that the store that Ravi had purchased the goods from did not offer refunds where the goods had been opened by the purchaser. As there was evidence that the goods had been opened, the credit card company found that it was unable to chargeback the store for the amount that Ravi had paid. The credit card company found that the transaction was valid.
Ravi said he should be entitled to a full refund for the goods. He said most of goods had already been opened when he received them and, therefore, he could not return them unopened. Regarding the one product that he had opened himself, Ravi stated that it gave him an allergic reaction so the product was defective.
We accepted that, on the balance of probabilities, the goods had already been opened when Ravi received them. Since Ravi had not used the goods, they should have been covered by the vendor’s returns policy and Ravi should have been entitled to a refund.
If the last product was defective, Ravi would have been eligible for a refund. However, he had not been able to provide any evidence of the allergic reaction, so the credit card company was not obliged to provide a refund.
While we were conducting our investigation, the credit card company suspended Ravi’s credit card. Ravi contacted us to add this suspension to his complaint. Our Terms of Reference do not allow enforcement action to be taken against a complainant while a complaint is being investigated, unless permission has been given by our CEO for such action to be taken. We required that the credit card company reinstate Ravi’s card immediately.
The credit card company accepted it had made a mistake, and that it should not have suspended Ravi’s credit cards.
After we explained our findings about Ravi’s cosmetic products, the credit card company agreed to provide a full refund for the cosmetic products and pay Ravi $500 compensation for stress and inconvenience, Ravi was happy with this result.
Insights for participants
It is important that participants understand that when a complaint has been made to FSCL against them, this limits their ability to take enforcement action. Proper communication channels and internal complaints policies are important to ensure that complaints processes are correctly followed.
Insight for consumers
Take care when buying goods using your credit card. Once the goods have been paid for with your card and PIN, it is very difficult to obtain a refund from your credit card provider, even when the goods are faulty.