Cornelia Spiegel asks for and receives a refund for a coat from Saks.com. Then the company charges her for it again. Can she get her money back?

Q: I bought a coat from Saks.com last fall. I returned the item, Saks.com confirmed the return and issued a refund to my credit card in late December. But Saks.com then recharged me $959 about a week later for the same item.

I have not ordered from Saks.com since the October return and don’t know what the new charge is for. I have tried to resolve this with Saks and disputed the claim with Chase Visa three times with no success. Saks.com has offered me no proof of purchase or other confirmation of what it thinks it’s charging me for. My Saks.com account shows no additional purchase than the October return.

Can you help me get a refund? — Cornelia Spiegel, New York

A: Saks.com should have returned your money at once and not charged you for the coat again.

This is such a strange case. When you found out about the second charge, you tried calling Saks.com but couldn’t get through to a person. So you decided to dispute the charge on your Chase Visa. You went through two disputes. Both times, Chase sided with Saks.com. But why?

Before we get to the answer, I wanted to share a tip about fighting a charge. The credit card dispute is what I like to call the nuclear option. You only want to do a chargeback as a last resort for a variety of reasons. Before then, you’ll want to contact the merchant in writing and ask for a resolution. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Saks.com customer service managers on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.

So back to the question — why would Saks.com charge for an item you never bought? I forwarded your case to Saks.com and it provided you with an answer.

You worked through a third party to send your first coat back to Saks.com. The shipping service lost your package, and to cover your losses, it paid you $959, the value of the coat. So that initial refund came from the shipper, not Saks.com.

The shipping service then found the package and sent it to Saks.com.

“Saks apparently felt that because I received a refund, they should get to re-charge me,” you said. “Frankly, I find that remarkable: Saks seems to think that they’re entitled to double-dipping on a refund from an unrelated third party.”

You say you returned the shipper’s refund as soon as Saks.com confirmed the return of the coat. When you provided Saks.com with a copy of the check you sent to the shipper and a bank receipt showing that the shipper had cashed it, Saks.com agreed to undo the re-charge.

After I asked about the case, a representative said, “We will look into this and resolve it quickly.” It’s unclear whether my involvement expedited the return of your money, but Saks also sent you a $100 gift card as an apology.

Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer for Elliott Advocacy. Email him at chris@elliott.org or get help with any consumer problem by contacting him at http://www.elliott.org/help.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.