While I agree with the numerous studies that have found ‘friendly fraud,’ casual abuse of the charge back system, to be far higher than it should be, I have always erred on the side of the consumer when it comes to forcing a refund through your credit card company, and historically so have the credit card companies so my opinion is mostly irrelevant. That being said, we need to discuss a few things.
First: In order to fully understand charge backs, you have to recognize that they are the nuclear option for customers, the bomb you drop to get the message across that negotiations have failed. It is what you do after all other alternatives have been exhausted, by which I mean the company was unable or unwilling to render the services advertised and were also unable or unwilling to provide you compensation for your money spent, and you went through the proper channels to request a refund and got nowhere. That is important: You did everything possible. You are saying that the two parties have irreconcilable issues and the merchant is in the wrong, and refusing to hold up his side of the bargain.
Second: If you file a charge back against a company, you’d better be damn ready to cut all ties with them, because you’ve just put a black mark on their name and they will be understandably pissed. I’ve had numerous emails and tips sent over the years, people wanting to call out developers because they filed a charge back and their account got closed because of it, and my stance has always been the same: I side with both, the customer who gets their money back and the company who decides they don’t want said person as a customer going forward. The question of who is right and who is wrong becomes irrelevant at the point where the store has the right to bar you as a customer from coming back. Doing business with you isn’t compulsory, despite what some may think.
And performing a charge back doesn’t just mean that the credit card company yanks the $50 you spent and puts it back into your account. According to LexisNexis, you are costing the company $2.40 in every $1 you spent due to various fees and penalties. Now your $50 refund suddenly becomes about $120 in losses, and the company receives a mark that can cost them even more down the line, do you understand now why companies would rather ban customers who perform charge backs than keep their accounts open and risk them doing it again in the future?
Looking at the customer, I have to ask a simple question: Why are you still doing business with a company after filing a charge back? At best, you’re accusing them of being incompetent on all levels from the service itself to their customer service. You are the person who we see in McDonald’s complaining about how they get your order wrong every time you go in there. Stop buying from them. At worst, you’re accusing the company of fraudulent activity. Again, stop buying from them. Now you’re the guy who goes back to Denny’s even though you got food poisoning the last six times, and you’re ordering the same thing.
I am all for charge backs in cases of services not rendered, and believe me when I say that I am fully aware of how PC gaming has been exploited to death to put out shoddy products and claim “sorry no refunds” all on the grounds that what you’re buying is digital, by companies who just made up the policy that your product has been delivered once you start downloading it. I write about MMOs, a genre where incompetence is rampant and a product working perfectly on day 1, let alone week 1, is virtually unheard of. As someone who pays a lot of attention to events, it’s easy for me to not be surprised when, say, Trion Worlds bungles yet another launch because their servers are built mostly out of chocolate pudding and mint dental floss. As someone who has been around for most MMO launches, I have the patience of a saint. It’s easy for me to say “suck it up, they’ll fix it eventually and compensate you.” Not everyone has that patience, and they probably shouldn’t.
So Trion Worlds is wrong, and I’m not going to assume the intention of the speaker, when they say that charge backs are only used for fraud cases, that is patently false. That being said, the company seems willing to attempt refunds upon request, a noble intent that is apparently dogged by incompetent, outsourced customer service which again leads to charge backs.
When I escalate a sale to the point of charge back, I no longer want anything to do with that company, and consumers need to realize that whether or not they want to acknowledge that fact, that is where they are as well. I say this as someone who has both escalated a dispute with Best Buy up to the New York State Attorney General office, and someone whose purchase was sent to a collections agency by Target because their system screwed up my Target debit card and didn’t properly process a $4 purchase of a pepperoni personal pan pizza.
Final lesson: If you’re going to process a charge back, stick with it. Don’t reverse the charge back like some guy did on Wakfu recently, because you’ve already fired the shot. You’re not going to get unbanned because you’ve already cost the company a bunch of time and money that they aren’t going to get back, and now you’re basically admitting that you made a false accusation by asking for the reversal. I’m not going to make a judgement on whether or not the guy was within his rights, the whole ordeal surrounding the marketing of this promotion was shaky at best, and other incidents that I’ve found recently have shown that Wakfu’s outsourced customer support also doesn’t understand the terms of their promotions and will evidently lie only to be overturned by community managers when the player complains on the forums.
Other than that I have no opinion on the matter.