After traveling to Costa Rica, some fraudulent amounts were charged to my credit card. Unfortunately, after much coaxing, questioning, and negotiating, my card company refused to refund the charges. I decided to write a cancellation letter.
At times, I find my words to more potent than my voice. It connotes an ability to publish, share elsewhere and on grander scales. A cancellation letter makes your message clear: You’re unhappy with the status quo and willing to leave.
Below is my cancellation letter that I sent to a credit card company. After mailing it and having multiple, lengthy phone calls with billing dispute representatives, customer service agents, and managers, a solution was found. I’ve decided to leave the company name removed for privacy reasons and because they responded fairly to my complaints.
Before reading on, here are five quick writing tips:
1. Be Polite
2. Be Direct
3. Be Honest
4. Be Concise
5. Be Hard To Get
This letter made all the difference.
Dear Company A,
In my second year of college (2008), I researched and scoured the web for a credit card. Eventually, I settled on Company A credit card with some sort of cash bonus. I slowly worked up my credit line and built a healthy credit score from there.
I never churned Company A credit cards or participated in strange cash back behaviors (read: buying coins through the U.S. Mint). The company benefited from some of my poor financial decisions when I transferred a few balance transfers to the Company A card.
Over the years I’ve had minor issues and billing concerns, but never any problem with Company A‘s customer service or basic functions. The card always worked, had no fraudulent behavior, and if there were ever issues, Company A‘s staff was professional and courteous.
Because of my sizable history with Company A, I decided to apply for another: the Company A credit card. The attractive bonus miles and a statement credit were a powerful value. I was flying a fair amount last spring, and Company A’s airline partner was the best airline to fly from the Midwest to West Coast. Receiving the extra miles and features seemed like a perfect fit.
Then, I did my first serious travel with the card. At the beginning of summer and the rainy season, I traveled with my girlfriend to Costa Rica. Prior to flying down, we booked a rental car. The prices were staggeringly inexpensive and we knew the card offered rental insurance. We entered in the Company A-branded card’s digits and were assured that a rental would be available for our four days of travel. The price was a little less than $60.
We arrived to a beautiful day in the Central American country. The rental service picked us up and took us to their off-airport office. We received a map, talked about insurance, advice about travel, and were about to embark on a wonderful five-day adventure when the employee gave us an ultimatum: provide documentation of rental insurance or receive an added charge.
All of a sudden, the price shot up to $187.52. There was nothing we could do, but I trusted Company A would stand by their customers – by me. I was a loyal customer and believed they would credit me and investigate this strange business practice.
When I landed back in the States, I called Company A for help. I was issued a conditional credit and a dispute case was initiated. The customer service agents assured me that they would figure this out, but that I needed to send documentation.
While I still had the Orbitz receipt and sent that in, the Economy Rent A Car receipt was impossible to find – a consequence of international travel. Nonetheless, the incorrect (possibly fraudulent) charge was on my credit card and the merchant was listed.
A few days went by and then I received a letter riddled with computer-generated errors asking for more information. I sent in everything and said that this extra charge should be considered fraudulent. The case continued.
In future letters, I was asked if I was still interested in calling this a fraud claim. This confused me, as I started the case under this assumption. Orbitz, Economy, and the employees in Costa Rica had misappropriated pricing and I was the sucker suffering from it. I believed this to be dishonest and fraudulent business practices.
Company A’s dispute representatives continued to guide me in the case, and believed that I would receive the refund permanently. Then I received a disturbing letter on July 18, 2013. The important points:
This merchant is involved in the following type of business: AUTOMOBILE RENTAL AGENCY and their telephone number is unavailable.
We previously issued a conditional credit to your account for the amount in question pending the outcome of our investigation. Now that the investigation is complete, we have rebilled your account for this charge along with any related fees and interest charges.
Time and time again, I’d heard from others and in searches online that if a credit company couldn’t reach the company for comment, they’d give the purchaser the benefit of the doubt. If a company is unreachable that seems strange to me. How could a company not be reached, but the bill still be considered valid? Woudn’t this be like the defendant not showing up to a court case?
The crazy part is that other companies stand by the customers concerns and problems. For instance, here’s Discover’s dispute agreement:
How does the dispute process work?
After gathering information and any documentation you may have, we issue a credit to your account while we investigate the transaction. We notify the merchant of your dispute. If the merchant responds, we evaluate the information they provide and then either a credit is issued from the merchant’s account or the credit we issued during investigation is reversed. If the merchant doesn’t respond, a credit is issued from their account. (Discover FAQs)
Unfortunately, Company A, you’ve decided to reverse the charge and bill me for the full amount. The merchant’s failure to respond to communication hasn’t been enough to credit me. After much arguing, frustration, and mixed messages by your staff, you decided to credit me $50 for my troubles. That still leaves an $80 gap, and I don’t believe that charge is legal, right, or fair.
The next step is easy:
A card that successfully advocates for you deserves your business and recommendation. (NBC)
Today, I’m saying goodbye. After 5 years and 1 month of time, I’m canceling both my credit cards with Company A. I have a feeling Company B, Company C, and Company D will stand behind their customers and work with them to offer a reasonable due process. In fact, I know they will from previous experiences.
Thank you for reading,