I just opened up a merchant dispute claim with VISA tonight.  I feel so mean.

I had been looking for a unique gift for my brother’s 50th birthday.  Since he loves food but doesn’t treat himself enough to nice restaurants, I researched restaurants in Montreal, where he lives, and found consistently strong reviews for DNA Restaurant.

I phoned them to inquire about gift certificates.  They sent me a form that I had to complete, authorizing them to charge my credit card.  When I’d sent it back to them on November 1st, I asked if they could please ensure I received the gift certificate before November 19th, as that was when I would need it to present as a birthday gift.  On November 9, I noticed that my VISA was charged on the 3rd, and I e-mailed the restaurant just to confirm that they mailed the gift certificate.  They told me they did not mail it until late in the day on November 7th.  No problem; plenty of time still. 

On November 17th at the end of the day, I still did not have the certificate and notified the restaurant, asking if they could cancel the order because it was too late.  I was leaving on November 19th for Montreal, so I had to go shopping for another gift on the 18th.  After I got home from shopping, a representative from the restaurant phoned.  She offered to direct courier a duplicate of the certificate to my brother’s home as long as I could guarantee that someone would be there.

Excuse me?  How about having sent it to me correctly in the first place and we wouldn’t be having this conversation?  I told her I was not prepared to call my sister-in-law and tell her not to move from her house, and that I had already gone out and purchased another gift anyway; it was too late.  I told her I was not out to screw them, and that I just wanted the charge reversed on my VISA.  She said she would have to “speak to Management”.

Five days later, I still hadn’t heard anything back and e-mailed them to follow-up, promising them I would rip up the certificate and mail it back to them if I ever did get it in the mail, which I still hadn’t.  No reply.  OK, so now you’ve just pissed me off.

Who knows where this will end up?  VISA tells me it will still take 6-8 weeks before I could get credited and they asked that I continue to try to resolve it directly with the restaurant.  Thanks a lot.

Meanwhile, I read last week that Derek Dammann, the chef at DNA Restaurant, was out dining with his buddy, Jamie Oliver, in Toronto.  So I think he can afford to give me my money back with the company he’s keeping.