A proposed class action lawsuit claims American Express Company has failed to properly notify credit card customers that contacting the company by phone to dispute a billing charge will not preserve their billing rights.
Alleging violations of the federal Truth in Lending Act (TILA), the 13-page lawsuit out of New York claims American Express has failed to include in customer billing statements proper disclosure of how to contest a charge while preserving their billing rights.
The plaintiff, who holds a credit account with the defendant, says the billing statements she received from June through September 2019, for example, included “Billing Inquiries” notices that provided both a mailing address and a telephone number through which she could purportedly contact Amex to report that she was disputing a charge.
According to the case, however, none of the billing statements disclosed that contacting the defendant using the toll-free phone number as opposed to in writing would not preserve the plaintiff’s billing rights.
The lawsuit alleges American Express’s credit card agreement at the time specified that if a customer notified the company by mail to dispute a charge, his or her billing rights—i.e., the right to have the charge later removed or reduced—would be preserved. The same preservation of billing rights did not apply if the customer notified Amex of a dispute by telephone, the case says. The defendant’s omission of the distinction constitutes a violation of federal law, according to the complaint.
“Thus, the Bank’s incomplete disclosure on the billing statements furnished to [the plaintiff] regarding billing disputes—that is, its failure to provide a precautionary instruction about telephone notification of disputes and/or its failure to make the mailing address for disputes clear and conspicuous—constituted a key omission or misrepresentation of the terms of the account that was a violation of Regulation Z and TILA,” the suit claims.
The lawsuit looks to cover anyone who, in the past year, was provided a billing statement from the defendant with a Billing Inquiries disclosure that did not specify that in the event of a charge dispute, the customer’s billing rights would only be preserved if made in writing and would not be preserved if made by telephone.
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