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Take this answer to the bank

Dear Answer Man, why is there a double standard regarding debit cards? They immediately deduct money from your account when you use it, but if there's a mistake (as occurred recently at a local restaurant, when I was mistakenly billed for another table's check), I have to wait five days until the mistake is fixed and I get my money back. It was more than $100 and it was not my fault. — Sue

Does this surprise you? The bank or debit card company has the advantage; you don't.

Practices vary by bank and company. Visa and MasterCard debit cards supposedly will return the money to your account on a debit card within 2-3 days. Some bank cards will return it the same day, when accounts are cleared, but if it's a weekend day, you might be out of luck until Monday. The main thing is, call your debit card issuer immediately. You may lose some rights if you don't.

You can also ask for cash back from the vendor and see what happens. If they're customer-oriented, they'll do it.

There are plenty of downsides regarding debit cards . According to consumer protection groups, you're vulnerable to bigger losses if the card is lost or stolen and used fraudulently; liability for a stolen credit card is limited, but not so for debit cards. Blocking charges can be a problem.


I'll add a few links to this column online for more details.

Good luck with the chargeback, Sue.

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