Chargeback Win Rate

July 29, 2019 | 7 min read

The Top 5 Tips to Maximize Your Chargeback Win Rate

Your chargeback-to-transaction ratio offers insight on how well you prevent chargebacks. But what about the chargebacks you can’t avoid? How do you gauge the effectiveness of your chargeback response? The key is to examine your chargeback win rate.

Your win rate, sometimes referred to as a chargeback success rate, is distinct from your chargeback ratio. The latter measures your total monthly chargebacks as a portion of overall sales. In contrast, your win rate looks at how effectively you manage to fight—and win—against disputed transactions. It’s a measure of how effective you are at submitting successful representments and overturning chargebacks to recapture disputed charges.

Chargeback Win Rate

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A chargeback win rate is the rate at which a merchant disputes and successfully recovers transactions following an initial chargeback. This figure is expressed as a percentage of overall chargebacks.

Win Rates Explained

So, how do you figure out your win rate? It’s actually rather simple…once you understand the basic process to dispute a chargeback, that is.

Let’s assume an issuing bank has questions about a particular transaction. The bank submits a retrieval request or transaction inquiry to get more information, and in response, you should submit the requested information. This can be conducted via the Visa Order Insights plugin (previously known as Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry, or VMPI) for Visa transactions. Mastercard has their own similar process.

If the information submitted satisfactorily addresses the bank’s questions, the issuer can simply close the case. This will have no impact—positive or negative—on your win rate, because no actual dispute was filed. You satisfied the bank’s inquiry, so they simply dropped the matter.

The bank submitting an inquiry, then declining to dispute a charge is the best-case scenario. However, there could be several other potential results. The bank may determine that your information was insufficient, or they may even skip the transaction inquiry and file a chargeback if they believe it’s justified.

If the issuer files a chargeback, you have the opportunity to try reversing the dispute through a process called “representment.” If you manage to successfully fight it, the win will be reflected in your chargeback win rate. Obviously, your win rate will take a hit if you lose the dispute, or if you simply decline to fight it at all.

Maintaining a high win rate is a vital indicator for merchants. The higher your chargeback win rate, the more revenue you recover from disputes. Not only that, but a higher win rate may incentivize banks to conduct greater due diligence before filing a chargeback in the future. In that way, winning a dispute may help prevent the next chargeback to come after it.

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What’s a Good Win Rate?

As discussed before, you want your chargeback win rate to be as close to 100% as possible. That said, there’s not really a solid universal indicator for what constitutes a “good” win rate.

According to a report by CyberSource, merchants submitted a representment in 53% of chargebacks cases in 2016. Of those disputes, the report says merchants won the chargeback in question 41% of the time. This yields an overall average merchant chargeback win rate of roughly 22% of all disputes in 2016.

Merchants win fewer than one in four disputes? That’s not great. But of course, even this basic figure can be deceptively high, because your base win rate doesn’t reflect any additional steps in the chargeback lifecycle.

For example, you might win a dispute, only for the issuer to then file a pre-arbitration case. If that happens, you end up fighting another dispute, but it doesn’t improve your win rate, even if you win again. Of course, if you LOSE the pre-arbitration or arbitration process, the dispute will change from a “win” to a “loss.” In other words, additional stages beyond the initial representment could negatively affect your win rate, but can’t improve it. It’s the worst of both worlds.

Even under the best of circumstances, the dispute system is confusing, and that leads many merchants to write the process off entirely. Although you want your win rate to be as high as possible, some merchants don’t even bother with it. According to the 2018 State of Chargebacks, one in every four merchants didn’t even know their win rate.

Top 5 Tips to Improve Your Chargeback Win Rate

You may not be able to win every dispute, but you can act to keep your success rate as high as possible. Here are our top five suggestions:

Know the Reason Codes

Know the Reason Codes

Every dispute comes attached to a code which is meant to offer insight on what caused the dispute, how you could potentially resolve it, and how you can prevent recurring issues. Be aware, though, that the codes vary from one card scheme to the next. You can use our chargeback reason code tool to look up reason codes for Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and Discover. And, too, an important part of “knowing reason codes” is also understanding that they’re not reliable. Friendly fraudsters and cyber shoplifters operate by fooling chargeback reason codes.

Know the Timeframes

Know the Timeframes

Chargebacks are limited to strict timeframes. In many cases, you’ll only have a few days to respond. Be aware of the chargeback time limits, how they differ from one card scheme to the next, and how long different stages should take. But, most importantly, keep up with all messages from your processor so you don’t miss a dispute.

Understand the Key Components of a Dispute

Understand the Key Components of a Dispute

Suppose you want to submit a representment. First, you will need two key items: compelling evidence to show why the chargeback is invalid, and a chargeback rebuttal letter that gives the evidence context. Without these items, the bank would have no reason to treat your second presentment any different from the first. They’re two essential components of protecting your chargeback win rate.

Organize Your Data

Organize Your Data

As mentioned, you need to move fast when fighting a chargeback. The key to assembling strong cases in a timely manner is how well you can organize your data. All relevant data sources, such as customer profiles, sales records, order details, and billing information, should be captured at the point of transaction and stored so as to be instantly-recallable.

Draft Compelling Rebuttals

Draft Compelling Rebuttals

It’s not enough to simply submit your evidence and assume it speaks for itself. As we established, you need to submit a rebuttal letter that clearly lays out your case. Your rebuttal should be fact-based and informative, but it should be engaging, too. It’s fine to break from the dry legal language in your rebuttal, as long as you don’t let frustration or anger show. The goal is simply to make the reader envision that you did everything right when handling the initial transaction.

Prevention is the Best Solution

The above tips will help you maximize your chargeback win rate and recover as many sales as possible. That’s great…but preventing chargebacks wherever possible is always going to be your best bet.

We know that all disputes are products of either merchant error, criminal fraud, or friendly fraud. You can’t do much on your own to prevent friendly fraud; however, there are many things you can do to stop criminal fraud and merchant error.

Check out our free 35 Simple Steps to Prevent More Chargebacks guide. Inside, you’ll find plenty of easy, actionable tips to help retain profits, grow your revenue, and cut costs. Protecting your chargeback win rate isn’t easy…but preventing chargebacks can be.

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