Chargeback under British Columbia Statute

This is a guide to exercise your rights under the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act of British Columbia.

If you did not receive services you paid for from a distance, then you may be entitled to a refund under provincial law. (It is not the same as going through your card issuer or bank’s internal chargeback process; see Statutory vs. "Internal" Chargeback.)

There are a number of steps involved in this process, which you proceed through as necessary.

  1. Provide a written notice of cancellation of the distance sales contract. Then wait 15 days.
  2. Provide a written notice to your card issuing bank that you dispute the charge. Then wait 30 days for acknowledgement, and 60-90 days for refund.
  3. Provide a written notice to your card issuing bank that you are clawing back the money.

Further details on timelines are included within the detailed guide for each step.

Be aware that the final step in exercising your rights with uncooperative card issuers is to stop using the credit card. Therefore, you may wish to have an alternative credit card available to you at the earliest opportunity.

In British Columbia, you are eligible to proceed if you meet the following criteria:

  • The transaction is a consumer transaction (s. 49(1))
    • defined as: “a supply of goods or services or real property by a supplier to a consumer for purposes that are primarily personal, family or household” (s. 1).
  • You have a distance sales contract (s. 17)
    • you booked online or via phone; or
    • you signed an agreement electronically and not in person; or
    • you entered into an agreement in-person at a travel agent, and the agreement is with an airline or tour operator.
  • It has been more than 30 days since your scheduled departure date (s. 49(1)(c)).
  • You paid with a credit card (s. 52).


  • If you paid with a debit card, you can still complete Step 1 of this guide to cancel your contract and ask for a refund, but you cannot complete Step 2 or 3 as they are applicable to credit cards only. You may have other remedies available under BC law, such as a small claims court action.
  • If you entered into an agreement in person and with a travel agent, these provisions of the Act are unlikely to apply to you, although it is a grey area. Both the travel agent and the airline are considered “suppliers” under the Act (Miller v. Merck Frosst Canada Ltd., 2013 BCSC 544 at paras. 79-97). Consequently, a transaction in person with the travel agent is unlikely to be a “distance sales contact.”

In this step, you give formal notice to the supplier that the contract is cancelled, and request a refund.

  • When: If your flight has been cancelled and it has been 30 days since the originally scheduled date of departure, you may proceed with this step.
  • To Whom: The company that charged your card and whose name appears on your statement is the supplier.
  • How: Paragraph 54(1)(b) of the Act allows giving notice by “registered mail, electronic mail or facsimile,” and is deemed to have been given when sent.
  • Where: If you want to send a letter, use the address provided on the contract or their registered business address (commonly found on their website).
  • Proof: It may be helpful to send the communication using a method that provides proof it was sent.

Letter Template for British Columbia (Step 1)

In this step, you exercise your rights under the Act to request a statutory chargeback with your credit card issuer to recover illegitimate charges.

  • When: If you do not receive a refund within 15 days of sending your notice from Step 1, you may proceed to this step.
  • To Whom: Your credit card issuer. This could be a federally regulated bank, a credit union, or American Express (both the bank and card network).
  • How: Send a letter to your credit card issuer.
  • Where: Use the address provided on your credit card bill.
  • Proof: It may be helpful to send this letter by registered mail so that you have proof of sending and delivery.

Letter Template for British Columbia (Step 2)

In this step, you claw back the disputed amount if the card issuer fails to comply with the obligation to reverse the illegitimate charge within the timeframe prescribed by law.

  • When: If the card issuer did not reverse the the illegitimate charge within the earlier of “2 complete billing cycles of the credit card issuer” or “90 days” after receiving the notice you sent them in Step 2 (s. 52(4)).
    • A billing cycle is the time between bills.
    • In most cases, with monthly billing, two complete billing cycles would be the shortest duration.
    • To ensure you meet the definition of 2 complete billing cycles, you may want to wait for your current billing cycle to end, and then wait for two further billing cycles to complete before sending your next letter.
  • What: You take two distinct actions simultaneously.
    1. Claw back the disputed amount. In practical terms, this means paying the balance of the card minus the disputed amount, and ceasing use of the card.
    2. Inform your card issuer in writing that you will not be paying the disputed amount, and request that the card issuer take you to court.
  • How: Send a letter to your credit card issuer by registered mail. Registered mail is a requirement under paragraph 7(9)(c) of the Credit Business Practices Regulations, and also provides proof of sending and delivery.
  • Where: Use the address provided on your credit card bill.

Letter Template for British Columbia (Step 3)

Rights and protections provided by the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act cannot be waived or contracted out, except when the law specifically allows you to waive rights (which it does not for our purposes). Section 3 of the Act renders such a waiver void.

This means that regardless of what you have agreed to with any airline, tour operator, travel agency, or your credit card issuer, your rights are absolute.