One of the lesser-known benefits of some American Express cards is Refund Protection. It’s not so well known because it’s only given a scarce mention in their marketing alongside (in my opinion) mostly worthless benefits such as travel inconvenience insurance.
A bit of background: credit card issuers in the UK are required to provide consumers with two means to resolve disputes with merchants: chargeback, a feature provided by Visa/MC and Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Both, and American Express’s voluntary implementation of Section 75 for charge cards, which are not provided for in the Act, are extremely useful in limited circumstances, such as when you purchase something that isn’t delivered and the seller is unresponsive, or when the seller goes bust just after you’ve placed an order with them.
Refund Protection is in addition to this. It gives you 30 days to arbitrarily decide that you don’t want something (i.e. buyer’s remorse) and, if the seller refuses to take it back, the insurer will reimburse you.
I recently purchased some headphones from Argos at a price of £270. The moment I tried them out, I realised the sound was more like that of £50 headphones. With a 14-day moneyback guarantee plastered all over Argos’s website, till receipt and stores, I assumed I was in the clear. I took it back to Argos only to find that the guarantee is void once the shrink-wrapping has been removed, rendering is mostly worthless. The manager had clearly heard it all before and rather than discussing it with me and trying to help at least a bit, she just stormed off in a strop.
This really annoyed me because I had chosen to buy the item from Argos because of this guarantee. Had I known the treatment I’d get, I would have bought it from Amazon, saved myself a small amount of money, the time spent arguing with an overgrown teenager and had the opportunity to return the item.
I debated taking it to another Argos store and trying a bit harder, maybe suggesting that the poor sound could be indicative of a fault but I decided to try Amex’s Refund Protection.
Using the Service
The insurance is administered/underwritten by Chubb. Finding the online form meant digging through the card’s Terms. Once I found it though, it only took about 5 minutes to complete and I was surprised that there wasn’t a long list of exclusions and limitations or an onerous form. I received a call from Chubb a couple of days later in which they told me that I couldn’t keep the item, so I should return it to a charity shop (!) and fill out a very brief declaration that I’d given the item to a charity shop. Again, all very easy and the British Heart Foundation gained a nice donation.
I actually debated going back to the BHF shop to buy the item back, guessing they’d sell it for £25-50 an
d at that price, I’d have been happy to keep them. I decided against this, too, though.
About a week after filling in the very short declaration, the whole amount was back in my bank account.
I got messed around by a big company and a bigger company sorted it out for me. I probably won’t buy from Argos again because none of this would have happened if I’d bought from Amazon. This lesser-known benefit saved me £270, roughly double the annual fee for my Preferred Rewards Gold card.