Saved by My Credit Card

Have I got a story for you, and when I say “you,” I refer primarily to my readers who are having a difficult time understanding why I do not use a debit card. I am careful to always pay with a credit card when making a large purchase, when I order something online or put up a deposit for goods or services to be delivered in the future.

Several years ago, we purchased a dishwasher for our son’s wedding gift as part of his kitchen remodel. I shopped like crazy for this unusual unique-size model. Surprisingly, I found it online at Amazon — through one of its affiliate sellers, a retailer located in Brooklyn, New York. It arrived within two weeks.

As with many remodels, things took longer than expected. Three months after delivery, a licensed contractor came to install it. On its maiden run, that dishwasher flooded the new kitchen. Not until the contractor removed all of the soundproofing material was the hidden damage apparent. The interior damage looks like someone ran a forklift through it or dropped it on its head.

Now what? I’d signed the delivery paperwork indicating the machine arrived in satisfactory condition. I could hardly blame the retailer, as it appeared this damage happened long before they received it. So I called the manufacturer, who sent a certified repair technician to inspect the dishwasher.

His conclusion? The machine is damaged beyond repair. But he wrote in his report that it was not the fault of the manufacturer or the retailer — it is shipping damage.

I tried to contact Amazon but kept getting scuttled to the affiliate retailer. I called the affiliate retailer every day for three days straight. Each time, no matter what time of day, I received a recorded message requiring that I leave a message, which I did. I also sent an email through the retailer’s website explaining my problem. No response.

In frustration, I called Citibank Customer Service. I know that the Fair Credit Billing Act protects me in this kind of situation because I purchased the dishwasher with a credit card issued by a national bank. But what must I do to prove I have attempted to work out a problem with a merchant in the event I need to dispute this transaction? The customer service rep was so helpful and very kind. After giving her the CliffsNotes version of my situation, she said that I should do nothing — that Citibank would deal with this. Within 48 hours, the entire amount of the transaction was credited back to my account.

Even though that’s the way it’s supposed to work, still I am happily surprised. How thankful I am that I did not buy this with a debit card, with a check or with cash. With the time lapse and all, I’m afraid it would have been my word against theirs and we’d be stuck with a busted dishwasher.

You are probably quite aware by now that I am never hesitant to complain when credit card companies do not live up to their obligations. But today I am happy to say, thank you Citibank. You saved the day.

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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