Effective Strategies for Dealing with Billing Errors

by John Stevenson on August 14, 2011

It can be very frustrating to receive a bill for goods you returned or never received or to be charged twice for the same item. Rest assured, though, that these mistakes can be fixed. All it takes is a degree of familiarity with the dispute settlement procedures under Canadian law. The law in question applies to credit cards, department store accounts, and other revolving accounts. It does not apply to loans, credit extensions such as car loans, furniture and household goods, and more.

If you want to file a complaint in cases of billing errors, you first need to find out what types of disputes are covered, how to dispute your bill, the procedure that goes on while the bill is in dispute, whether your credit rating is affected, and more.

What billing errors does the law cover? These include, but are not limited to unauthorized charges, charges listing the wrong date or amount, incorrect math calculations, and charges that have been made for goods and services you didn’t get upon the agreed terms or returned. Other such charges are failure to post returns, not sending your bills to your current address, and so on.

When dealing with billing errors, the first step is to write a letter to your credit provider. This must be the address indicated as the billing inquiry address, not the one you send your bills to. The letter must include your name, address, the number of your account, and a description of the billing error. You should use certified mail so that you can get a return receipt as proof that the entity got your letter. You can add other documents as well, such as receipts, but make sure you send copies only. Of course, keep a copy of this letter in a safe place. Make sure you do not misplace it. It should reach the company within two months after you received the bill with the error. The company is obligated to give notice that they received your dispute letter. The notice must be in written form within a month of receiving it. The only exception is if the error has been worked out in this period. 

The letter should also include your city and postal code. You should list the error you are disputing and the amount thereof. Tell them why the amount is inaccurate and demand directly that the error be corrected and that all other charges connected to the disputed amount be reviewed and corrected as well. You should also request an accurate statement. Mention all documents you are sending along with the letter – records of payment, slips, whatever – and that they are copies.

While your bill is in dispute you have the right to withhold payment. You have to pay all other bills that are not in dispute though, including any and all finance charges. In this period, the company is not allowed to compromise your credit rating or make a report against you. It can be reported that you are disputing your bill. What is more, companies cannot discriminate against clients just for exercising their rights in accordance with the law.

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