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Business Customer Claims Unauthorized ACH

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Question: 
We have a business customer whose account was charged $150 last month "out of the blue." Our customer claims he had spoken with a sales representative for the company that charged his account, but never gave him an order.The customer contacted us two days after his statement was mailed to complain about the charge. He had no way of knowing it had posted until then. I traced it back to our ACH files and saw a "CTX" transaction code. I've researched the ACH rules, and believe I can't return the transaction as unauthorized because too much time has passed. Must either my customer or my bank take this lying down?
Answer: 

It's true that the time for using the ACH system to return the transaction has passed. For CTX entries and all other ACH debits to business accounts, you have to get the return out of your door in time for the ODFI to have the return transaction by the opening of business on the second business day after the Settlement Date.

You can either accept the item yourselves and make your customer whole or refuse the claim from your customer (and risk losing his business). It's possible this dollar amount is small enough not to worry about, but if it is not, either you or the customer might choose to attempt collecting the money in a breach of warranty claim. The Originator and the ODFI each warrants to your bank and the Receiver that there was an authorization for the entry. Since the authorization doesn't need to be written for entries to business accounts, this will come down to a matter of who blinks (unless it gets to court). The warranty claim can be brought at any time until the statute of limitations in your state expires (that will vary, of course).

The contact concerning the warranty claim is done outside of the ACH system, often by an attorney. You might also consider filing an allegation of ACH rules violations. Information on that process is found in the Operating Guidlines section of NACHA's ACH Rules book, published annually.

First published on BankersOnline.com 3/7/05

First published on 03/07/2005

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