Every consumer has heard horror stories of companies that committed fraud or malfeasance at the expense of its customers. When a company commits actions of this sort, justice demands they be held accountable and that the people they harm be made whole. But intentional wrongful acts are not the only way businesses can cost customers a lot of money; simple negligence can be just as expensive and frustrating, and can even require legal action to recover money.
Overcharging customers by mistake
Recently, one of the largest mortgage companies in the nation was scrambling to repair the damage caused to its customers by an error made while its payment system was being tested. Nearly 15,000 North Carolinians were affected by the purported mistake, which caused them to be billed anywhere from twice to eight times. The company withdrew hundreds of thousands of dollars from customer accounts — money those customers did not owe.
Some customers have sufficient money in their accounts to survive errors such as this, resulting in nothing more than a frustrating inconvenience. But for others, a company’s mistake can leave their account empty and turn their life into financial nightmare.
Consumer protection is important
North Carolina law protects consumers not only against intentional wrongful acts but also against negligent acts. Companies have a duty to act in a responsible way toward their customers – with their money, their accounts and their information. When a company fails in that duty, even if it’s only a mistake, they can be held liable for their negligence and the customer is entitled to be compensated for their loss.
According to the president of the Better Business Bureau, large-scale mistakes like that made by the mortgage company, which affected thousands of people at the same time, are thankfully rare. But smaller errors, affecting individuals, are not.
When they happen, customers should be aware that they have rights when businesses make mistakes and that they can be compensated for them.