Everyone experiences buyer's remorse from time to time, but this doesn't necessarily mean you can reverse your decision. There's no specific legal protection when you change your mind after a credit card transaction. If the reason you changed your mind is a valid reason for a dispute or canceled purchase, though, you may be able to get your money back.
Store Return and Exchange Policies
After you've made a purchase, your best source to learn your options is the store's return and exchange policy. Some online retailers allow customers to cancel purchases before they ship, but at most stores, you'll have to wait till you have the merchandise before you can return it. If you've changed your mind and the store you use offers easy returns, a return may be the most hassle-free way to get your money back.
Credit Card Return Options
Some credit cards offer return protection. With these cards, the card issuer will reimburse you for purchases that the retailer won't accept as returns. You'll typically have 90 days or so to initiate the return process, but if the retailer won't let you cancel or return the purchase, using your card's return protection can be a good option. Consider getting a card that offers such protection and use it for all discretionary purchases.
Disputing a Purchase
You can dispute a purchase on your credit card in a limited number of circumstances, such as when the item does not match its description, is defective or the retailer refuses to honor its own return policy. You'll have to wait until you receive the item and will have to submit documentation to prove the specific issue you're raising with the merchant. The card issuer will then investigate the dispute, give the merchant a chance to tell his side and then either dismiss the dispute or issue you a refund.
Lawsuits and Other Options
If you can't dispute the charge or get a refund, you may have to resort to other options. A letter to the company's board of directors or a negative online review may serve as leverage that encourages the business to refund your money. If you believe the company broke the law -- by using false or deceptive advertising practices, for example -- you may be able to sue to get your money back. Unless the purchase was a large one, though, the cost of a lawsuit may exceed the cost of the purchase many times over.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.