Banks’ credit card scheme could help California Fitness clients get refunds

TODAY,  24 Jul 2016, Banks’ credit card scheme could help California Fitness clients get refunds

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A little-known clause called the chargeback scheme may offer a recourse for some California Fitness customers seeking refunds following the fitness chain’s closure.

Offered by credit card companies like Visa, MasterCard and American Express, the scheme allows cardholders to claim money back if the goods and services they paid for do not arrive or are faulty or if the merchant has gone bust.

Three out of five banks contacted by TODAY said those who have used their credit cards to buy California Fitness packages are entitled to refunds, subject to varying caveats and administrative requirements.

Affected customers holding OCBC Bank credit cards will have to submit a credit card dispute declaration form along with a copy of their membership contract and credit card statement displaying the transaction with California Fitness.

“OCBC Bank will then help them raise a dispute through Visa/MasterCard to the merchant’s bank under ‘services not rendered’,” said a spokesperson.

While the chargeback amount is limited to the time frame of services not yet utilised, those with lifetime memberships are entitled to a full refund, he added, as it is not possible to gauge each customer’s lifetime accurately.

For Citibank cardholders, there is a 120-day limit on claims, starting from the day of transaction. Cardholders requesting chargeback must also satisfy requirements such as providing the bank with “relevant documents”, it said.

DBS said its cardholders are entitled to chargebacks “in most cases”, if less than 18 months have passed since the day they entered into a contract.

DBS customers who have taken up instalment plans, however, are to seek recourse with the Small Claims Tribunal.

In its latest advisory on the episode, the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) urged affected customers to ask for chargebacks, but said this applied only to those with “month-to-month membership packages”.

“Consumers who have purchased pre-paid or fixed-term membership should note that they may still be liable to make monthly repayments to the bank if the bank had already paid California Fitness in full,” said Case.

There are currently no regulations here governing chargeback protection. The Association of Banks and the Monetary Authority of Singapore do not have guidelines for disputed credit card transactions.

[Related News]
TODAY, 18 December 2009, Credit card users could get protection through chargeback scheme

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