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May 6th, 2009:

FOLLOW-UP: Not all credit card companies facilitate freedom

Credit CardsAs we have written before, one of the great things about America is the consumer protections offered to everyone by the credit card companies in the form of chargebacks.

Have a problem with an unscrupulous vender or the incompetent Presidential Inaugural Committee? No problem. Just call your credit card company and start a chargeback.

The credit card company will do battle with the merchant and before too long you get a refund and the troublesome vender will have his account debited by the credit card company. Or, at least that is what we thought.

But it turns out that not all credit card companies have the same commitment to supporting consumer freedom. Mastercard, in particular, has rather European ideas about consumer protection.

 The watchdogs over at consumerist.com have the details:

With Mastercard (MC) the burden of proof lies on you. If you buy something face-to-face, get home and realize that it’s not as described, you’re out of luck entirely as you had a chance to examine the merchandise. Also, with MC it’s entirely up to you to know the merchant’s cancellation/return policy, even if they don’t disclose it. They didn’t tell you that you couldn’t cancel after three days? Too bad.

It looks like sensible consumer protection is one of those things that money can’t buy.

On the other hand, Mastercard doesn’t distinguish between domestic and foreign merchants. So you might have a better shot with them at getting your money back from that French tailor who ripped you off—provided, of course, that you thoroughly documented everything.

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