There were 1.9 billion debit card transactions in September 2021 alone, and some of those will have resulted in cardholders buying misleading products or receiving poor service. So what should you do if this happens to you?
You’re only protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act when you make a purchase costing between £100 and £30,000 and have paid for some of it on your credit card. What makes this a really useful nugget of consumer law is that you only need to spend a fraction of the total, say £1, on the credit card to be protected for the full cost.
But Section 75 only covers credit. This doesn’t mean there’s no protection for problems with debit card purchases, just that it’s a different type of protection.
Although less well known than Section 75, the Chargeback Scheme gives you a way to get your money back from your bank if you purchase something faulty. It also protects you when you have spent money on a debit card for a service that was not provided or if a company stops trading and fails to deliver promised goods.
You get protection through the Chargeback Scheme for purchases made using all UK debit cards and credit cards, including:
Visa debit and credit cards, as well as Visa Electron cards
MasterCard debit and credit cards
Maestro debit cards (valid until 1 July 2023)
There is a similar purchase protection scheme in place for Amex charge cards.
You can claim a refund for any amount of money when using the Chargeback system, and it covers credit and debit card spending.
This means that even if you bought something on your credit card that is not covered by Section 75 – for instance, if it cost more than £30,000 or less than £100 – you could claim using Chargeback instead.
The protection offered through Chargeback is not enforced by law (unlike Section 75 for credit cards) but an in-house rule.
This means you need to check with your debit card provider to find out what its Chargeback rules are because different organisations interpret them differently.
It’s a good idea to speak to the retailer or service provider first before seeking a refund from your card provider. They may be able to settle the dispute themselves.
You’ll normally have to contact your card provider within 120 days of becoming aware that there is a problem with the goods or from the day that they were delivered.
You also have 120 days to contact your card provider if your card was used fraudulently.
Once you’re in touch, ask them to initiate the Chargeback process. Your card provider will open a dispute, investigate the matter and refund your money, assuming it agrees with your claim.
If your Chargeback claim fails, you can take it to the Financial Ombudsman Service within six months of being notified.
You’re unlikely to have debit card protection under the Chargeback Scheme for items purchased using PayPal.
In these cases, the act of loading money onto your PayPal account counts as the debit card transaction rather than a purchase so, unless the money fails to be credited, it won’t be covered.
PayPal runs its own purchase protection scheme that extends some cover to your purchases, but it is an in-house system rather than regulated by law.