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PROBLEM SOLVED

I never received my dresses. Why won't Citibank refund my money?

Leslie Luke orders dresses from an online store, but he never receives them. Why won't his credit card help him get a refund?

Last summer, I ordered dresses from the Krismile online store. I paid $241 with my Citi credit card.

I never received the dresses. I exchanged emails with the business in an attempt to resolve the problem.

Finally, I contacted Citi in March to file a credit card dispute. Citi claimed it mailed a letter to me to fill out, but I didn't get it. In April, I called Citi, and a representative said I had five days to mail the dispute letter.

The next day, I received a notification online that "the information was not enough to support your claim."

I appealed the denial in writing. I received a notification online that "Due to the age of the charge, we have no options available to obtain a credit for you."

I would like to receive a credit of $241 and have Citi change its procedures and educate staff on what customer service is. Can you help me?

Leslie Luke, Manlius, NY

Krismile sells some pretty cool dresses, but the moment I looked up the business, I could see the problem. The search results also included a lot of pages in which customers asked if the site was a scam -- and many said it was. I also noticed some spelling errors on the site when I looked at it, which set off some alarms in my inner grammar.

So before I go any further, let me say this: Before you buy anything online, at least do a quick search to find out what other people are saying about the business. I think you could have saved yourself a lot of trouble.

But back to your case. You were more than patient in trying to resolve this problem. So patient, in fact, that you ran out the clock. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you only have 60 days to file a chargeback. Details are in my guide to credit card disputes, which is available on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.

Citi was following the letter of the law. It needed your documentation, and it only had a limited time to send a dispute to the merchant. But it wasn't following the most important law -- of good customer service. It should have found a way to ensure you had the correct form, either by email or via postal service. Instead, it sent you a series of automated messages saying you had missed your opportunity to dispute the purchase. That's not good enough.

I publish the names, numbers, and email addresses of the top Citi executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.

You are absolutely correct that Citi's dispute process is problematic and needs some attention. I contacted Citi on your behalf. Shortly after that, you received some good news.

"Citibank’s exec office actually called me to apologize and refund the money," you said. "She said their process is being improved. I was pleasantly surprised."

That makes two of us. I will be watching closely to see if Citi does indeed make improvements to its dispute process. I hope it does.

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (https://elliottadvocacy.org), a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at [email protected] or get help by contacting him at https://elliottadvocacy.org/help/

© 2023 Christopher Elliott

 

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