As a buyer,you will have cases where a transaction or purchase goes bad. This may be due to a defect in the product, damage during shipping, a currency conversion charge that created an issue or a myriad of other problems. You may feel that there was a hidden charge that you were unaware of in the shipping and handling or even the customs and excise charges when the goods arrive if you had not been made aware of this.

In cases such as this you may want to return goods for a full refund or request a refund without returning the items.

You can initiate a payment dispute if your payments are made via systems such as PayPal or request a chargeback from your credit card provider to reverse the credit card payment made. This results in the funds being put on hold until such time as the situation is resolved and the dispute is put to sleep.

The best and simplest way to resolve a dispute is by discussion with your retailer. Often when communicating the issues, the problem can be resolved effectively for both parties and a compromise can be reached. This can then result in a dispute resolution and the hold being taken off funds in the account or an agreement to refund a set amount, or any other offer that is acceptable to both parties.

When dealing with the merchant, try and keep emotions to a minimum. Listen to your merchant with an open mind, be patient and hear them out. Many disputes are simply due to a lack of understanding or a minor error that can easily be resolved. Simply not understanding how the currency conversions work, or explaining that customs duties are not hidden charges but instituted by the governments of most countries could help settle the problem right at the start. Once your retailer is aware of exactly what the problem is they can then work on finding a satisfactory resolution for both parties.

Stay away from aggressive talk, foul language and impatience when dealing with the merchant as this never resolves anything. Staying polite, patient and constructive is the best way to work towards a dispute resolution. Be respectful and focus on the solution to the problem. Most merchants will be reasonable and respectful as long as you are. Sometimes you need to make a compromise that might not necessarily be exactly what you wanted but it helps keep relations good between you and your supplier and may result in a better relationship over the long term.

Open communication can also assist in resolving issues such as unavoidable dispatch delays or other changes in circumstance. If your merchant in open and honest and explains the situation to you, so that you understand what they are doing to resolve the problem or if there is nothing they can do, what their next steps are. If your merchant communicates well, at least you can then work around the issue if you know what went wrong. Merchants that do not respond to queries are generally not good to deal with over the long term.

Most often, when a dispute is opened, you will have to provide PayPal or the credit card company with the details of the problem. The online retailer may then have to supply shipping information, preferably with proof of delivery or a tracking number as a minimum. You would also need to show that you did not receive a refund or or a replacement in the event of there being an issue with the product itself. For software and other digital items, your merchant would need to show proof of download of the product in order to claim the funds, so if you have not downloaded the product, you should have the dispute returned in your favour. The sooner the information is provided, the better chance you have of resolving the dispute and reaching a settlement with the merchant.

Know your buyer protection rights.

As a buyer, you are able to request chargebacks up to 120 days after making a payment with most service providers. Your merchant is given 10 days to respond to a dispute, and once evidence has been supplied, you could wait a further 75 days before the payment service provider provides feedback. The best situation is to try and resolve the problem long before it gets to the point of a payment hold or a chargeback request as this does not benefit you or the merchant.

Where possible ask your merchant about any further fees you may need to pay when purchasing goods across borders. Some price comparison sites offer tools to work out customs duties, tax payable as well as giving the you a good idea of the shipping and packaging costs to get the goods to your destination. This may help reduce disputes based on added costs that you might have been unaware of. Check with your payment service provider about the fee for currency conversion if you are paying for goods in a currency other than your own as this will be an added cost to you. Check the exchange rate of the day or check with your bank on what you could expect to pay in local currency for the online purchase in the currency of a cross border country.

Refund and return policies should be clearly stated so that you are aware of how to go about returning goods and requesting refunds, which may also go a long way to preventing disputes all together. If this is not the case, ask your merchant about their policies before purchasing the goods. Check the merchant's FAQ section which should answer many questions related to purchasing the product from a different country.

Shopping should be enjoyable, don't get too emotional

Most disputes can be resolved amicably with a little patience and understanding and open communication with the merchant. There are times when this is unfortunately not the case things may not be settled to your satisfaction. This may result in you rating the merchant badly or giving a bad review. Ensure that your rating or review does not involve mudslinging and only gives a true and accurate account of the situation so that other people who may want to purchase from the merchant can make their own minds up.