What to Know About Chargebacks, How to Avoid Them, and How to Win Them

What to Know About Chargebacks, How to Avoid Them, and How to Win Them

Posted: February 4, 2021 | Updated: February 27, 2024

An unfortunate part of running a business is the risk of chargebacks. While they are a natural part of accepting credit card payments, if they get too excessive, it can make you a ‘risky’ merchant, causing you to lose your merchant account.

Here’s what you must know.

What is a Chargeback?

A chargeback is a charge reversal. The customer initiates it and it’s usually due to wrongdoing on the merchant’s part, or at least that’s what most people think. Since a chargeback protects the consumer and not the merchant, you’re on the losing end right from the start.

Common Reasons for Chargebacks

Chargebacks happen for a million reasons, but some of the most common include:

  • Customer dissatisfaction
  • Fraudulent charges
  • Clerical error

The most common reason is identity theft or fraudulent charges. But anything can happen, and customers can initiate them if they feel warranted.

So how do you avoid chargebacks? Here are some tried and true methods.

Make your Payment Description Clear

How often have you seen a charge on your credit card you don’t recognize? Your first instinct is to dispute it. Sometimes, it’s from a company you did initiate a transaction with, but the name differs from the name customers know of you. Use the same name or description and you’ll avoid chargebacks.

Have a Friendly Return Policy

You are in business to make money, but if customers aren’t happy, you won’t make money. Instead, make your customer service and return policy so friendly that customers won’t have a reason to initiate a chargeback. If they know you will figure out the issue, they will most likely trust you rather than making you go through the investigation process.

Watch for Suspicious Transactions

It’s hard to figure out which transactions are legit and which aren’t, but here are a few key areas to watch for:

  • Multiple attempts to use the same card
  • Unusually large purchases for your business and/or industry
  • Questionable answer when you accept a card-not-present transaction

Despite your best efforts, you may not prevent all chargebacks, but you can still ‘win’ at them. Here’s how to win at chargebacks.

Watch the Timeframe

You have only a few days to answer the chargeback. If you ignore it, the dispute will count against you. If you respond right away and can work things out, you may win it. Missing a dispute is like letting your opponent knock you out in a boxing match.

Have the Right Documentation

Don’t let the timeline stress you out. Instead, have your documentation ready so you have everything the merchant processor needs to decide about the chargeback. The more information you have, the better your chances of it going in your favor.

Write a Great Rebuttal

A chargeback is a he said/she said situation, but if you draft a proper rebuttal, you may get your way. While you don’t want to make customers mad, if you have a valid point, it should be taken when going through the process.

Chargebacks are a part of doing business, but when you have great customer service and proper protocols in place, you can minimize them. If they happen, don’t worry, but do your best to ‘win’ so you don’t ruin your rating with the merchant processor.

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