Women affected by the PIP implants scandal could finally be in for some good news - if they paid for their breast surgery on a credit card. Lloyds TSB has just paid a refund to one woman who used a Lloyds card to cover the cost of her surgery.
So how can women get a refund? And how do credit card refunds work?
The refundThe Guardian has reported that one woman received £3,700 from Lloyds TSB, as a refund for her breast implant operation.
She had been fitted with a PIP implant. These were manufactured by French company Poly Implant Prothese, and instead of containing surgical grade silicone, were filled with silicone intended for mattresses. Around 40,000 British women received the implants - largely in private clinics.
The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told the newspaper that the implant had ruptured last September, making her very ill. She had it removed on the NHS, and sought legal advice as to whether she could get her money back. The company which performed the enlargement operation had gone into administration. However, her solicitor suggested she seek a refund from her credit card company as she had put the operation on plastic. She contacted Lloyds, and says three months later she received the refund.
Women who have these implants are recommended to contact their clinic first to see if they will remove them free of charge. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons is recommending this to its members - although many clinics are refusing to do so.
Credit card refundsIf this fails, and they paid by credit card, they can make a claim under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This applies whenever you buy anything worth between £100 and £30,000 on your credit card. Under Section 75, credit card companies are jointly responsible, along with the supplier of the goods or services, for any breach of contract or misrepresentation by the supplier.
It applies when any contract is broken; the goods or services have been misrepresented; the retailer fails to properly fulfill their contract; or the goods are faulty. The refund isn't just limited to the money you paid. The credit card company is jointly liable for any financial losses you suffered as a result.
A spokeswoman from the UK Cards Association said: "If you've paid for cosmetic surgery using your credit card and something goes wrong, providing it's above £100 and less than £30,000, you certainly would have grounds for making a Section 75 claim, and you should speak to your credit card company who will tell you exactly what information they need. You might even have a valid claim if you only paid a deposit on your credit card."
If it is rejectedSuccess is not guaranteed. While they were unable to comment on an anonymous case, a Lloyds TSB spokesperson said that as a general rule: "Every Section 75 claim is different and each one will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis." So there is no guarantee that all claims will be paid.
If a claim is unsuccessful, the UK Cards Association spokeswoman said: "Your credit card company should be able to tell you why and if you don't agree with their reasons you can go back to them and ask to make a formal complaint. If this doesn't result in a satisfactory conclusion you can then refer your case to the Ombusdman who will undertake an impartial review of your case."
After that, there remains the legal route. However, it's worth bearing in mind the potential costs involved at this stage, and weighing up whether the refund is worth the outlay of time and money.