The process for cancelling automatic deductions or charges to a credit account requires the cardholder to take the initiative … and not believe anything they’re told until they have it in writing.
First – Call the Company
The first contact a cardholder should make is to the company that is making the deductions or charges. Telephone contact is okay, but it is better to do everything in writing. Some companies will tell consumers it takes 60 to 90 days to stop the processing of the payments. This is just an attempt to get more from the consumer than necessary. Consumers must insist the charges cease immediately and they should record the company contact’s name and employee number, just in case they need it in the future. Again, send a letter to confirm the telephone contact with the contact date, the name of the person spoken to, any account numbers or confirmation numbers relative to the telephone call.
Next – Call the Card Provider
After contacting the company making charges or deductions, contact the credit card provider or account holder. They may be able to flag the account to decline any further charges to it or at least provide the cardholder with a notice if the charge is made against the account. Again, document the discussion and be sure to get the contact’s name and employee identification number, just in case it’s needed in the future.
Sometimes It Works … Sometimes It Doesn’t
America Online (AOL) had to pay a $25 million fine for charging credit cards after their customers had terminated their service. Some companies don’t give up without an attempt to make one (or more) charge against the card or account. Cardholders have to keep a close eye on their credit card statement to insure no further charges show up. If they do, the cardholder needs to immediately notify the card provider to reverse the charge. This will probably require submitting the documents containing the dates, names, and outcomes of the customer’s earlier contact with the company.
Go to the Source
Customers who find additional charges or fees assessed to the credit card by the cancelled company need to re-contact the company for an explanation of the charges. If the fees being charged were not previously discussed or agreed to, the customer needs to provide the documentation evidencing their prior conversation with the company’s representative and insist the charges be reversed. If that doesn’t work, the customer should contact the credit card company and explain the situation to have the charges reversed.
When All Else Fails
Some consumers have found it necessary to close out the credit card account. But even this tactic may not stop the charges from showing up on a statement to be paid. If the disputed charges continue to show up, the consumer needs to contact their card provider to get a copy of the charges, the source company for the charges and all the other information needed to file a complaint with their local police department and their local consumer protection agency. Oftentimes, they are not the only victim of the company making the charges. Frequently, the authorities can help with determining what steps need to be taken to stop the charges.
Documentation (and Persistence) is the Key
By keeping accurate and timely records, consumers can often avoid any further unpleasantness that may arise from an over-zealous company charging their card. Having specific dates, times, contacts, discussion points and action items documented adequately can save a lot of time later on trying to paint a picture for the card issuer or the authorities. Stopping an automatic payment shouldn’t be this hard, but sometimes it is and consumers need to steel themselves to this fact. Arguments and altercations over the phone aren’t going to provide a solution, so if the account representative isn’t helpful, consumers have to ask for a supervisor or manager. Companies make it difficult to stop automatic payments on purpose. Cardholders need to deal with those companies with an equal amount of resolution, and with proper documentation and determination, the automatic payment will be stopped.