When you receive a billing statement for charges that you've made, it's important to review the summary for accuracy as soon as possible. The possibility exists that an amount could be entered in error, charge account numbers could be transposed or your data jeopardized as a result of identity theft. The sooner you catch the mistake, the sooner you can remedy the problem by writing a business letter to dispute the charge. If it's a merchant with whom you regularly interact, a phone call will usually suffice. For all other vendors and creditors, a letter establishes a paper trail should your concerns go unresolved.
Things You'll Need
- Good quality stationery
Identify the appropriate department and mailing address to whom your letter should be sent. Obtain this information by calling the company or looking at the address on the statement or the back of your credit card. In most cases, your letter will be directed to the attention of "Credit Department" or "Billing Inquiries."
Assemble documentation such as receipts, contracts, canceled checks and any correspondence related to the charge you are disputing. Make photocopies of these to attach to your letter along with the disputed billing statement.
State the problem clearly in the opening paragraph of your letter. Specifically, provide the date of the billing statement, the date of the transaction, the amount being questioned and your account number. Explain why you believe that the charge is in error.
Reference the supporting documentation you are providing to substantiate your claim that a charge was not authorized by you. If the charge is for goods from a store that you have never heard of or expenses accrued in a city you weren't visiting at the time, state these facts in your letter.
Request a call to action on the part of the recipient that will resolve the matter to your satisfaction. This usually takes the form of a request to remove the charge and any finance fees from your account or to reissue the billing statement with the corrected amount. Provide your complete contact information so the recipient can follow up if additional information is needed. Make a copy of your letter and retain it until the issue has been settled.
Tips & Warnings
- Keep your letter brief and to the point. A letter disputing a charge should not exceed one typed page.
- Timeliness is essential. Under provisions of the Fair Credit Billing Act, creditors must be made aware of billing errors within 60 days of when you first receive an incorrect statement of charges.
- Consider sending your letter by registered mail with a return receipt slip if you're concerned the creditor might try to ignore you.
- If you don't recognize the vendor name on a statement, consider calling to see who it is. The name of the corporate entity that handles billing statements may be different from the individual stores beneath its umbrella.
- People often make the mistake of either starting at the very top of the food chain in the hope it will generate a faster response or sending a letter to the company without any sort of attention line. An envelope generically addressed to the corporate offices of XYZ Company, for instance, could likely take several weeks to be rerouted back to the regional store in which the disputed charge originally occurred.
- "300+ Successful Business Letters for All Occasions"; Alan Bond, et al.; 2010
- "How to Write Letters - A Complete Guide to Correct Business and Personal Correspondence"; Mary Owens Crowther; 2010
- "The McGraw-Hill Handbook of Business Letters"; Roy W. Poe; 2005
- Photo Credit Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
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