The Fine Print – You Might Go to Jail for Asking for a Refund

Welcome to another edition of the Fine Print, which highlights some of the scary wording that’s buried at the bottom of your customer agreements. This week’s feature is truly frightening: the merchant is making a thinly-veiled threat to prosecute you if it thinks that you’re asking for a frivolous refund.

The merchant doesn’t outline any criteria for why you’d receive a refund. Instead, it simply says that it takes the requests “very seriously” and you should contact customer service so your request can be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Lack of criteria (which means lack of accountability) is frustrating enough, but the Fine Print turns downright scary when the merchant notes that an “unnecessary chargeback” is a criminal offense that can be prosecuted.

The merchant continues to emphasize this point, noting that any frivilous refund request is a violation of its website’s terms of service and can be pursued by the Internet Crimes Bureau. If you “choose to claim” that you were the victim of a fraudulent purchase, it says, it will track down your IP address and pursue the claim in a “civil and criminal case against a customer.” Yikes!

Language like that makes me inclined to not bother asking for a refund, out of fear that I might go to jail for making the request. Which, I suppose, is exactly the response that the merchant intended.

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