Which? found many credit card providers are still failing to correctly explain the rules of ‘Section 75’, which could mean that consumers don’t get their money back when something goes wrong with a purchase.
Section 75 provides legal protection on items paid for by credit card that cost between £100 and £30,000. If something goes wrong – the item is faulty, the goods are not received, or the retailer goes bust – the credit card provider is jointly liable and should refund the full amount.
We tested 10 credit card providers on their knowledge of the law and worryingly not one provider consistently gave good advice, and several gave poor advice. This is the third time in three years that we have identified gaps in staff knowledge.
- Only a third of advisers correctly explained that even if just part of the item had been paid for by credit card it would still be possible to make a claim for the full amount.
- Several advisers were aware of the lower limit of £100, but incorrectly said this relates only to the amount paid by card rather than the total value of the item.
- Some told us to go elsewhere for help – NatWest suggested contacting Citizens Advice and Trading Standards to try and get the money back, while an adviser at Lloyds Bank said that we should speak to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
- Several advisers – including three at Santander – said that it wouldn’t be possible to get any money back because more than 120 days had passed, but this time frame applies to chargeback, not Section 75.
- Santander’s staff did not give us a single fully correct answer and NatWest and Nationwide failed most of our tests, scoring 2/6 and 1.5/6 respectively.
A separate survey of consumers found that a quarter (26%) of people had never heard of Section 75, and around four in ten (43%) were unable to select the correct definition. This makes it all the more important that bank staff are able to give consumers accurate advice.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:
“Section 75 is an important piece of consumer protection so it’s unacceptable that credit card providers have such poor understanding of it. Banks must improve staff training and help consumers get their money back when they are entitled to it. If you’re not sure if you have a right to claim, visit the Which? Consumer Rights website for free advice.”
We also called the 10 biggest banks and building societies to test their knowledge of chargeback, which applies if you’ve paid for goods using a debit or prepaid card, or bought goods costing less than £100 on your credit card.
The majority of staff correctly told our researchers that they would be able to claim their money back after an item paid for using a debit card was never delivered. However, several said they could only deal with disputed credit card payments and HSBC and RBS told us to contact Citizens Advice. One Lloyds employee said, ‘I’m not the expert. Your best bet would be to Google it.’
Half (52%) of consumers hadn’t heard of chargeback before and nearly nine in ten (86%) weren’t able to select the correct definition.
Notes to editors:
1. Methodology for research: We made six phone calls to the top 10 credit card companies and six calls to the top 10 current account providers about getting a refund for a card payment. For the credit card calls, we asked for general advice on behalf of a relative who had bought a sofa for £600. A £60 deposit was made using a credit card and the rest was paid by cheque, but the supplier went out of business before the sofa was delivered. For the calls to debit card providers, we asked for advice on claiming a refund for a £90 camera. The maximum score per call was one point. To score full marks (one point) for a call, the adviser had to explain that it would be possible to lodge a claim for a refund for the full amount in each scenario, with no incorrect or unclear advice. We awarded half a point where the adviser gave a vague or uncertain answer, but said they thought a full refund might be possible, or where they said they could not give any information without speaking to the cardholder. We did not award any points where the adviser said that it wouldn’t be possible to make a claim at all, or that it would only be possible to make a claim for the deposit paid by card (Section 75 scenario), or they provided other misleading information.
2. Methodology for consumer survey: We spoke to 5,032 respondents from the general public about their credit card providers, and their awareness and usage of Section 75 and chargeback. Fieldwork took place from 5th – 21th August 2014.
3. How the providers scored:
4. Section 75 makes credit card providers jointly liable for breaches of contract or ‘misrepresentations’ by a trader when you paid using your card. The item or service you bought must have cost between £100 and £30,000. You don’t have to have paid the full amount on your credit card. It also applies to foreign transactions as well as goods bought online, by telephone or mail order for delivery to the UK from overseas. Visit: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/section-75-of-the-consumer-credit-act
Chargeback can be used in cases of goods not arriving, arriving damaged, arriving not as described, or where the merchant has ceased trading. Chargeback doesn’t mean there is joint liability on the card company. Claims must be addressed to the bank that provides your debit or credit card, which in turn will put in a request to the merchant’s bank. There is a time limit of 120 days on chargeback claims, that usually starts from the day you become aware of a problem. Chargeback is not enshrined in law, but is part of Scheme Rules which participating banks subscribe to. Visit: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/problem/how-do-i-use-chargeback