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Issuer covers bad implants

By Janna Herron · Bankrate.com
Monday, June 11, 2012
Posted: 4 pm ET

Did you hear the one about the British woman who got more than $5,700 from her credit card company to cover bad breast implants?

The firm that made the implants, which ruptured, already had gone out of business, so the woman got a refund from her issuer Lloyds TSB. She had used one of its credit cards to pay for the surgery, according to media reports. The implants were classified as "faulty goods." Lloyds TSB sent the money just three months after the woman filled out a form.

Of course, a story like this begs the question: Would your U.S. issuer do the same?

"Yes, it's certainly possible," says John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at SmartCredit.com, if the patient used a credit card to pay for the surgery (and not a medical loan).

"The Fair Credit Billing Act covers billing disputes, so they'd need to show that they were billed for services that were improperly rendered, like if they chose saline but received silicon implants, or the wrong size or shape implant was used," Ulzheimer says.

The FCBA says a U.S. consumer can "take the same legal actions against the card issuer as you can take under state law against the seller" regarding unsatisfactory goods or services, according to the Federal Trade Commission website.

However (caveat alert), the purchase must total more than $50 and been made in your home state or within 100 miles of your home. You also must have tried to resolve the dispute with the seller first.

Aside from FCBA, many issuers offer other protections against purchases gone wrong.

Return protection allows a consumer to seek a refund within a limited time from the issuer if a retailer won't take back the item. Purchase protection covers the cost of an item if it's lost, stolen or damaged, again within a small window of time.

The most common perk is extended warranties. Issuers may extend a retailer's or manufacturer's warranty by a year, sometimes longer.

A dying benefit is price protection where the issuer will pay the price difference on an item if you find a lower price within a certain number of days after the purchase. The Capital One Cash credit card and Chase Sapphire credit card both offer this extra protection.

All these shopping protections come with a laundry list of exceptions. Products such as cars, boats, houses and aircraft are often excluded, and there typically are caps on the amount covered.

I doubt your credit card issuer will reimburse you if you find cheaper breast implants, post-surgery. Same thing goes for an extended warranty on them. Read your card's fine print to be sure.

Have you used any of your card's shopping protections or sought a refund after a bad service or unsatisfactory goods? I'd love to hear your story.

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron.

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