Raglan man wins battle over cancelled card
American Express agree to refund chargesMATT BOWEN
Plucky customer John Russell has emerged triumphant from a six-month battle with a multinational credit card company.
''They rang me up from god knows where and said they're going to refund all that money and the interest charges,'' the 75-year-old said from his Raglan home.
Mr Russell was a well-served and long-time American Express customer until the row erupted in July.
The tussle started when he gave his then-16-year-old daughter permission to use his credit card. However, she bought something without his authority and Mr Russell decided to put a stop to it.
He cancelled his card on June 12. But the next month's statement landed in his inbox listing a further nine purchases on his account, mostly through internet payment company Paypal, totalling more than $1000.
Mr Russell complained. He argued that he had requested the card be cancelled and it didn't matter who tried to use it after that point because it should have been unusable.
Months of wrangling ensued and Mr Russell contacted the Waikato Times to try and find a way through.
He said American Express has now agreed to refund the $1040 in charges and wipe the $233 in interest.
The American Express woman he dealt with was ''very nice''.
''She said: 'Thank you for being so understanding, you've been a good client'. I said: 'Well, no, I've been shouting at your bloody people because I was sick to death of it'. Anyway, she apologised.''
Mr Russell took his complaint to Financial Services Complaints Ltd after going public. The organisation is an independent not-for-profit dispute resolution scheme set up under the Financial Service Providers (Registration and Dispute Resolution) Act 2008. It has the power to order compensation of up to $200,000 and its decision is binding on the financial services provider.
Chief executive Susan Taylor said more calls came in about American Express after Mr Russell's story was published.
In the past financial year complaints against lenders/ﬁnance companies rose sharply to 39, up from 17 the previous year.
Ms Taylor said companies often settled when FSCL was formerly notified, particularly if it was a ''lower value'' dispute.
''Part of the reason is they probably don't wish to go through the cost, in time and money, of the full investigation by us and possibly if they know the complaint may be upheld in the client's favour,'' she said.
''We always emphasise the benefits of early settlements and in the long run you keep your customer happy and save a lot more time and expense.''
Still, Mr Russell said he was reluctant to stay with American Express after his experience.
''I'd warn people to be very cautious - if things go wrong you could be in trouble and in for a long battle.
''I'd like a dollar for every time they said they'd get back to me. They've learnt the hard way this time.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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