Can a business refuse to give you a refund when they take your money by mistake?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can a business refuse to give you a refund when they take your money by mistake?

I have a $500 credit with my internet provider for overcharging in the past. They were supposed to use that to cover my bill for this month, which was $300. Instead they took the money from my bank account via direct deposit, overcharging it and leaving my family and I penniless and without groceries

for the following 3 days. When we called trying to rectify the situation, they acknowledged their mistake, but told us that they’ll just credit it to next month’s bill instead of refunding the money. So there’s really no guarantee that they won’t make the same mistake again next month. My bank

advised me to withdraw the overdraft protection on my debit card in cash to make ends meet until the $1300 check I cashed the evening before finished processing, which was 3 days away. I have reported our provider and this incident to the better business bureau. Can they my internet provider get

away with this? Isn’t this negligent?

Can anything else be done at my end

that would be cost effective?

Asked on August 20, 2017 under Business Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, there's no cost-effective option. Say you tried to sue; say you sued in small claims court as your own attorney ("pro se") which is not just the cheapest option, but also the fastest; you can typically get into court in 4 - 8 weeks. By the time you get into court, you will have received the credit against the next bill; i.e. you will received compensation, and so the issue will be moot due to you effectively already getting the money to which you'd otherwise be entitled.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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