AS ONLINE shopping grows in Slovakia, so does the awareness that paying with a bank card offers increased flexibility should something go wrong. In other words, in cases where the goods or services do not arrive, the charges can be refunded directly to the card by the bank itself.

“Clients use this possibility,” Slovenská Sporiteľňa spokesman Štefan Frimmer told The Slovak Spectator. “Compared to other types of complaints, complaints about not receiving goods or services make up only a minimal share. But also with respect to the increasing popularity of ordering services and goods via the internet and the increase of such transactions we have registered an increase of these claims.”

VÚB and Tatra Banka report an increase in such claims, too. Clients most often seek refunds for undelivered goods like clothing and sportswear. When the airlines SkyEurope and Malév or group shopping portals went bankrupt, there was a flood of such claims.

According to the Association of Bank Cards in Slovakia (ZBK), complaints about not receiving goods or services make up a relatively large portion of complaints about transactions carried out by bank cards. Banks resolve these complaints on the basis of the rules of the card companies (VISA, MasterCard and Amex), which are very similar to each other, Zuzana Galgóciová of ZBK told The Slovak Spectator.

“Usually it is possible to complain about a transaction up to four months,” said Galgóciová, adding that in case of not delivering a good or service this period counts from the expected date of delivery. “Thus we do not recommend that clients wait half a year to see whether the goods will arrive. It is necessary to resolve the situation as soon as possible.”

When lodging a complaint, clients should first turn to the seller and request a refund. Only when they fail to get their money back or when they are unable to contact the seller, should they turn to the bank itself.

According to Galgóciová, a precondition for a successful solution of a complaint at the bank is that the client submits documentation of the transaction, like the voucher from the seller or the email confirming the order, the order form containing a detailed description of the ordered products, the date of the order date and the delivery location, the sum and so on. The client should also submit any communications with the seller. Banks have 30 days to resolve the complaint while with foreign transactions and more complicated cases this may take up to six months.

Galgóciová also points out that customers frequently make mistakes with cashless payments when they do not read the terms of the sale.

“We warn clients that when paying via the internet they should get acquainted with the conditions of the provision of the service, which may exclude the possibility of lodging a complaint,” said Galgóciová. “This mostly happens when booking accommodation.”

Payments made with a card can protect a customer if a travel agency goes bankrupt, for example. When the customer pays for a vacation with a bank card and if the agency goes out of business before the actual stay, the customer is entitled to a full refund. However, first the customer needs to apply for a refund with the insurance company. If that does not work, or only partially works, then the customer may contact the bank.

According to Porázik, loan applicants must first allow the bank to look into its file to see their payment history. In cases where the applicant does not allow this, banks are given reason for concern and it is likely their loan application will be rejected or that the conditions will be stricter. Still, the final decision over the provision of the loan is up to the bank.
Banks are pushing for access to even more information about potential clients.

“We would welcome the possibility of keeping the register of individuals without their consent, which would enable the fulfilment of the principle of responsible lending, which is a crucial element in preventing excessive financial burden on the individual,” said Tučeková.

Data is kept in credit registers for five years after the loan relationship ends. The SBA is proposing to extend this period in some cases.

“We want to improve the functioning of the registry,” said Tučeková. “Such improvements will benefit good clients who settle their obligations properly and on time. And such clients are the majority.”

Patrícia Fajbusová is a student of the University of Economics in Bratislava.