In yesterday’s USA Today, Kathy Chu offered tips to help consumers with disputes on credit card charges. This is a nice companion piece to this morning’s GRS post about thwarting credit-card company tricks.

“No industry statistics are available about how often such disputes are won by consumers,” Chu writes. “But to maximize their chances, consumers should know how to navigate the maze of rules governing credit card disputes.” She shares five ways to increase your odds of winning a dispute:

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  1. Get it in writing. Save receipts and warrantees. Ask for written confirmation of promises such as delivery dates.
  2. Know the rules.The Fair Credit Billing Act gives consumers the right to dispute a credit card purchase or withhold payment for a card purchase — but only under certain conditions.” Be aware of the FCBA page at the Federal Trade Commission web site — and refer to it when you have problems.
  3. File the dispute carefully. Be accurate when filing your claim, and seek maximum protection.
  4. Be prepared to arbitrate. Though most disputes are resolved before arbitration, a small percentage are actually decided by the credit card companies themselves.
  5. File a complaint elsewhere. If you’re unhappy with the resolution of your dispute, contact other agencies, such as your state attorney general’s office or the local Better Business Bureau.
  6. Lastly you should get free credit report to maintain your credit card transaction.

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I’ve never had to dispute a credit card transaction, but my wife has. It was a nightmare.

In 1998, we took a vacation to British Columbia. One night we had dinner at a cafe in Stanley Park. When we returned home, Kris discovered that the transaction had been billed twice — as if the waiter had made a mistake while running the card through the computer. She spent weeks (months?) trying to get her credit card company to remove the charge, but they wouldn’t budge. She never did get her money back, so she canceled the card and refuses to do business with the issuer.

If we’d known about these tips ten years ago, maybe she could have recovered her $25. For more complete information on disputing credit card charges, read the full article.

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