Saks sent me a refund but then took it back

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By Christopher Elliott

The coat that Cornelia Spiegel bought online from Saks isn’t quite right. She asks Saks for and receives a refund for the jacket. Then the company charges her for it again. Can we find out what went wrong here?

Question

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

Since the October return, I have not ordered from Saks and don’t know why they sent me a refund and then recharged me. I have tried to resolve this with Saks and disputed the claim with Chase Visa three times with no success. The company has offered me no proof of purchase or other confirmation of what it thinks it’s charging me for. My Saks account shows no additional purchase than the October return.

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

Answer

Saks 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 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. 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 (See: Here’s how to use a credit card dispute the right way). Before then, you’ll want to contact the merchant in writing and ask for a resolution. We list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Saks customer service managers in our company contacts database.

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

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You worked through a third party to send your first coat back to Saks. 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.

Later, the shipping service found the package and sent it to Saks. (Related: What happened to this Saks Fifth Avenue return and refund?)

Finally, a permanent refund from Saks

“Saks apparently felt that because I received a refund, they should 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 confirmed the return of the coat. When you provided Saks with a copy of the check you sent to the shipper and a bank receipt showing that the shipper had cashed it, Saks 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.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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