An alarm company I've long since cancelled continues to bill my credit card, year after year, claiming they never received my emailed cancellation. What is available to me through my bank credit card, or by law, to protect me?


I'm not a lawyer, and am certainly not familiar with your jurisdiction, but the general guidelines I've seen around this kind of situation are:

  • See if you can locate the original email. Generally it's a good idea to archive important sent mails and/or bcc yourself so you have a record that could be matched to the server logs.
  • If you can locate the mail, forward it onto them again with a cover explaining that you want to cancel your contract and have the charges refunded.
  • Either way you should phone them, if you had the email explain that you're following up on your email and would like to establish how the charges can be stopped and refunded. They may then sort it all out, maybe.
    • If you have no record, you may just have to swallow the previous charges but make sure you get from them the exact procedure to cancel the contract. Follow that procedure to the letter requesting an acknowledgment (and copying yourself again) and follow up again with another call to ensure they are cancelling the contract.
  • If you still get nowhere, you should contact your credit card company to explain the situation and see what their process for dealing with disputes is. This can be long and drawn out though.

If all else fails, you could just cancel the card, though I'm not sure what liability you have to honour the contract. I cancelled a card once to stop being charged by a particularly annoying company and had no problems, but I'm not sure if that is a good way to deal with it in general.

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    I am not sure an email or a phone call are as effective as a certified letter. They can claim the email or phone call never happened, but a certified letter is pretty hard to argue (cause they sign for it.) – MrChrister Jan 21 '10 at 16:48
  • that is true, but if the original contact was via email, forwarding the original shows they are telling porkies – Rich Seller Jan 21 '10 at 16:54
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    In the past, I had a similar situation with an Australian internet provider continuing to charge my credit card. I was able to use the automated email returned from them when I sent them a message telling them to stop charging as proof that I had cancelled with them. – dank Jan 25 '10 at 1:20

Short of canceling the card, you could just report the card as lost and ask for a new card number on the same account.

Another option is to just make a note to look for the charge and keep disputing it. It has been a while since I did credit card processing at my business, but I think the company gets dinged if too many customers dispute charges and kicks them into a higher fee schedule with the credit card company.

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    Most CC companies have a pretty simple dispute process. They don't want you to dispute charges until you have tried to work with the company, but the process is in your favor and simple to do. The CC company makes fees on both ends of the transaction. – MrChrister Jan 21 '10 at 16:49

I don't think you should have to cancel your card. Call your customer service line and just indicate to them what has happened. You aren't getting service for what they are charging you and they are refusing to remove it themselves.

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    Note: when you call your credit card company, your rights are NOT protected (it says so right on the statement). As @JohnFX suggests, filing a chargeback is much better. – user1731 Feb 14 '11 at 0:51

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