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What are Chargebacks and How to Minimize Them

Chargebacks happen when a transaction is disputed by the cardholder or issuing bank. Almost always initiated by customers – chargebacks can result from many situations, including fraud, processing and authorization errors, cardholder disputes, nonfulfillment of transaction receipts, and even innocent mistakes. Although a merchant cannot avoid chargebacks completely, here are ways businesses can help minimize them.

Respond promptly to disputes. You should always aim to respond promptly and professionally to every chargeback. A quick response will put you on a good (or at least better) footing with both the customer who opened the dispute and the credit card issuer who’s managing it.

Obtain a valid authorization request. Do not complete a transaction if the authorization request was declined or repeat the authorization request. Instead, ask for another form of payment.

Have clear, easy-to-understand return and refund policies. The better you communicate your refund and return policies with your customers, the fewer issues you will have with chargebacks related to misunderstandings or confusion.

Avoid duplicate processing chargebacks. If a transaction is entered twice by mistake, void the duplicate transaction.

Process transactions as quickly as possible—ideally right away. When it takes a few hours or days for a transaction to process, customers may ask for a chargeback in the belief that they didn’t authorize the payment.

If a customer requests cancellation of a recurring transaction, cancel the billing immediately. For subscription-based transactions, obtain customer acknowledgment and agreement to your recurring transaction agreement, and provide notice to the cardholder before each recurring transaction.

Set your merchant name on card statements. Some customers may file disputes for transactions on their credit cards if they don’t recognize the merchant's name on their card statement. Aside from providing itemized receipts, make it easy for your customers to identify your business by making sure the names match up.

Provide highly responsive customer service and work with your customers. Avoid customer service pitfalls like unanswered calls and emails. Nothing is more frustrating for customers than trying to contact a business about a problem with an order and not receiving a response. Though payment disputes can be frustrating, a large majority of chargebacks may be prevented if the merchant and customer work together to resolve the issue promptly. 

When you’re running a business, chargebacks are inevitable. But if you’re prepared, you can reduce their frequency.

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