Troubleshooters: Disputing credit card charges

Robert Pfeffer was in the market for a house. He was under contract on a town home in Wilmington’s Birch Creek community, and started pricing home warranties. He called a company the seller recommended, National Home Protection, and got a good quote by phone, but told them he couldn’t purchase the warranty until he closed on his home.

“They said don’t worry about it. It doesn’t kick in for 30 days, if you don’t get the home just cancel it,” Pfeffer said.

After asking a number of questions to ensure that the warranty was refundable if his home deal fell through, Robert agreed, and gave National Home Protection his credit card number. Unfortunately for Robert, the deal on the town home fell through, and National Home Protection refused to refund Robert for the $800 warranty. So Robert called his credit card company.

“Discover immediately put a charge back on it, said that they would investigate. I then get a notice a month later that they investigated, and that to the best of their knowledge, the deal was legit and that I would have to pay them,” he said.

Robert was being told to pay for a home warranty on a home he didn’t own, even though he said he’d been promised a full refund. He never signed a contract, but Discover still sided with National Home Protection, saying they were an “authorized merchant”.

It did not take us much digging to find that National Home Protection has a less than stellar reputation. The company has been sued by the Attorneys General of New York and Texas for unsavory business practices and hundreds of complaints are lodged against them with the Better Business Bureau.

The number we called for National Home Protection has been disconnected, and an e-mail we sent to a company manager was returned as undeliverable. So you might wonder why Discover card took their side.

“We deal with this every single day. We see it every single day,” said Dwayne Furmidge of American Credit Resolutions. “The credit card companies are not our friends. They’re not going to go to bat for you; the only thing the credit card company is going to do is send you a monthly bill. If you pay it, you guys are friends, but if you don’t pay it, you guys are foes. They’re going to do whatever is necessary to collect upon that debt, ethical or not.”

While Discover may have been able to recover their money from National Home Protection when Robert first complained, their chances of getting that money back now are slim, since it appears the company has gone out of business.

Discover tells Newschannel 3 they have closed this investigation, and have notified the credit reporting agencies that Robert didn’t pay his bill.

Robert said he has no intention of paying Discover for a product he never received, but he needs to get this resolved, because it’s damaging his credit.

Credit counselors tell us there are laws in place to protect consumers who have fraudulent charges on their credit reports. You basically write a certified letter to the various credit reporting agencies like Equifax and Experian. The credit agencies then have 30 days to verify the charge on your account is accurate by getting their hands on a legally binding contract signed by the consumer. If they can’t, they are required by law to remove the damaging information from your credit report.

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