The "chargeback" procedure for obtaining a refund

Have you paid by card for a purchase or a service to a seller in Europe who has not respected his commitments and who does not respond to your reminders? Is the product ordered on a Spanish site a counterfeit? Are you the victim of a subscription trap? In some cases, you can request a refund of amounts paid via the "chargeback" procedure.


What exactly is a chargeback procedure?

The "chargeback" procedure allows a consumer who has paid by card to reverse the payment order in the event of a breach of contract by a trader, French or foreign, and to be reimbursed directly and free of charge by the issuing card brand or his/her bank.

The revocation of a payment is possible since many years thanks to several European directives. But some bank card issuers such as Visa or Master Card have gone further by offering the reimbursement of sums paid by card in cases wider than the situations provided for in European law.

Contact your bank to request a « chargeback »

To request a refund via the chargeback procedure, contact your bank. The chargeback is in fact offered to banks by bank card issuing companies (CB, VISA, Mastercard, etc.) and it is up to your bank to request them on your behalf.

To submit your chargeback request to your credit card brand, a summary of your claim and a "Reason Code" are required. The Reason Code is a number corresponding to the situation having caused your complaint. Examples: code 13.1 at VISA for non-delivery of the good or service, code 4840 at Mastercard for a fraudulent transaction ...

You will find these different codes in the general terms and conditions of your bank card brand or on its website (examples: Codes for VISA ; Codes for MasterCard). 


Good to know :

  • Some card companies refuse to process chargeback requests directly from consumers. You should therefore always contact your bank.

What to do if my bank refuses to request a chargeback ?

If your bank does not know this procedure or considers that it is not for it to "interfere in a commercial dispute relating to the execution of a sales contract or of a service provision once it has been ordered and the payment executed”, send them this article as well as the one from the French ministry article du Ministère de l’Economie to justify your request.

If you live outside France, refer to your national legislation, for example the Section 75 protection in the UK.

In parallel, contact the card issuer, they may be able to help.

Are there any deadlines?

 React quickly, and if possible within 30 jours after the purchase or order. Some credit card issuers do not allow a chargeback after 90 to 120 days after payment.


Whatch out when paying with cobranded cards!

The majority of bank cards issued in France are cobranded (CB/Visa or CB/Mastercard…) and several consumers have informed us about their difficulties to obtain a chargeback if the payment went through the CB system, which is often the default system set by French traders and allows a chargeback only in very restrictive situations.

As the end user, you always have the choice of the payment system you wish to use for your transaction.

A few tips if you are holder of a cobranded card :

  • When paying online, choose the type of card accordingly (Visa, Mastercard or other, not necessarily CB).
  • In a shop, ask the seller if the payment terminal is set on CB and if so, request to pay through your card’s brand system (Visa, Mastercard or other).

What to do in case of a problem?

  • Always try to find a solution directly with the seller first. Keep a copy of your exchanges.
  • In case of a complaint against a trader in another Member state of the EU, Iceland, Norway or the UK, contact the ECC of your residence country. If you live in France, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via our online form.  Be aware that we will not be able to help you in case of fraud.
  • If the trader doesn’t react, refuses delivery of your order or a refund, or if there is a bankruptcy, request a chargeback from your bank or the card issuer.
  • If your bank refuses, ask an ADR body for help. In France you can call on the médiateur.

Chargeback and payment opposition: what’s the difference?

In principle, according to French law, you cannot revoke a payment order you made by card once it has been received. On the other hand, you can oppose a payment by card made in the following circumstances (article L-133-17 du code monétaire et financier):

  • Loss or theft of your card,
  • Fraudulent use of your card or its data, for example when you still have your card but its number and expiry date have been stolen and used fraudulently following a hack (more information in our article on card fraud). In this case, dispute the fraudulent debits in writing to your bank as soon as possible (upon receipt of the account statements) and at the latest within 13 months for a debit in the EU, Lichtenstein, Iceland and Norway or within 70 days for a fraudulent payment outside the European Economic area. For further information in our article.
  • Liquidation of the trader on the day of payment. Opposition is only possible as long as the transaction amount has not yet been credited to the trader's account.
  • If you have made a payment without knowing the exact amount and if the amount debited ultimately exceeds what you expected in view of the circumstances and the goods ordered or the service subscribed, for example if you have been the victim of a subscription trap  (article L-133-25 du code monétaire et financier). In this case, you must submit your request for reimbursement to your bank within 8 weeks of the debit of the sum.

Don’t forget to check the insurance linked to your card

With your bank card, you may have insurance that can be useful to you in the event of problems during an online purchase ("remote purchase" guarantee for example). Consult the guarantees and conditions of this insurance. You can request a copy from your bank or download it directly from your bank card brand website.

However, these guarantees are often capped or may include a deductible, or even exclude a certain number of goods or services (vehicles, jewelry, goods acquired on auction sites, digital data, etc.) or even be limited to non-delivery. or even the delivery of a non-conforming good.

Please note that the deadlines for declaring a claim may vary depending on the cards and their conditions. Scrupulously follow the procedures for bringing the claim into play provided for in these conditions.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Innovation Council and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.