Can Delivery Confirmation Help Prevent or Dispute Chargebacks?
Delivery confirmation offers a lot of benefits to you as a merchant. It’s proof that an order was sent and evidence of the time and place at which the order arrived. However, many merchants remain hesitant about whether it’s really a good idea.
With the boom in eCommerce, a growing number of customers already insist on discounted or free shipping. You could be (understandably) hesitant to add any extra perks that may increase costs. On the other hand, research shows that delivery confirmation can be an effective component of chargeback prevention and representment strategy.
In this post, we’ll look at different types of delivery confirmation available, and their potential benefits to you as a merchant.
What is Delivery Confirmation?
- Delivery Confirmation
Delivery confirmation is a written or electronic notification received from a shipping provider. This notification informs the sender that a shipment has reached its final destination.
[noun]dəˈliv(ə)rē • känfərˈmāSH(ə)n
In simple terms, delivery confirmation is a note from your shipping carrier telling you that a package was delivered. That’s a good thing, but it’s important to note that delivery is not the same thing as the packing being received. As a merchant, you want to ensure that each order gets all the way to the intended recipient. This is important for customer satisfaction, as well as for your own liability protection.
Delivery confirmation comes in various forms. While there are pros and cons to each one, they all do the same basic job of letting you know that an order was delivered. By selecting the right type of delivery confirmation, you gain specifics as to when, where, and how the delivery happened.
This information is a crucial asset to help prevent or challenge chargebacks. Thus, you need to understand the different types to guarantee maximum benefit.
The most generic version of delivery confirmation is just that: confirmation of delivery. This value-added service ensures the merchandise was delivered successfully. It does not, however, prohibit the package from being re-routed, and in no way identifies whether the delivery address belongs to the actual cardholder.
“Successful delivery” could mean the order was left outside somebody’s door, where a thief could easily snatch it. Also, generic delivery confirmation typically requires an additional fee.
Delivery tracking is typically built into the overall fees of major shipping carriers. If a label is scanned in at the drop-off point, the information goes in the system and the shipment can be tracked, from pickup to delivery. You and the customer can both follow the shipment’s progress using the tracking number provided. The ability to track their order may reassure purchasers that the shipment is on its way, forestalling a call to the bank.
Delivery tracking is useful. Like confirmation, though, you only receive notice that the order was delivered; there's no guarantee that the order ended up with the actual purchaser.
The other downside to tracking is that fraudsters can do it, too. In fact, criminals might even use the information to retrieve a delivered package when the cardholder isn’t home.
Some delivery options require an actual signature (either physical or electronic). If delivery was attempted but not successful, the customer may have to arrange for another attempt or go to a carrier location for pick up.
All major carriers offer some form of signature confirmation, meaning that an actual signature (physical or electronic) is required before the carrier can release the package. This is the surest way to know an order reached its intended destination. Variations include Direct Signature Required (someone at the delivery address must sign) and Adult Signature Confirmation, where recipients must be over the age of 21. United Parcel Service (UPS) also offers Direct Delivery Only, where packages cannot be delivered to an alternate address without the sender’s permission, even by the delivery driver.
A signed acceptance is about the only form of delivery confirmation that provides compelling evidence of delivery, in the event the customer files a chargeback claiming the order was never delivered. There are potential downsides, however.
A signature confirmation is an additional cost (as much as $5, in some cases). Also, if delivery was attempted but not successful, the customer may have to arrange for another attempt, or go to a carrier location for pick up. This can lead to frustration on the part of the customer, especially if the order is time-sensitive.
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It’s easy to see why some people get confused about the benefits of delivery confirmation. Deciding on the best of the three methods outlined above means striking a balance between things like item value and shipping cost. Another thing to should consider here is the risk of chargebacks.
How Merchandise Delivery Can Affect Chargebacks
We should talk a little about chargebacks themselves to help you understand how delivery confirmation fits into an overall chargeback strategy. For the most part, only one common chargeback type could be impacted by the use of delivery confirmation: Merchandise Not Received.
There are numerous situations that could lead to a Merchandise Not Received chargeback. The most common claims include:
- The merchant didn’t ship the order by the agreed-upon delivery date.
- The merchant failed to send the order at all.
- The merchant billed the cardholder before shipping the order.
- The merchant didn’t make products available for pickup.
Any of these (or other) circumstances could be cause for a legitimate chargeback. But what if a cardholder falsely claims an order was never delivered? Under the existing chargeback rules, it’s your responsibility to disprove the cardholder’s claim. That can be difficult, which is why it’s important to arm yourself with any evidence that might invalidate a claim before it’s even filed.
In most cases, delivery confirmation on its own will not be strong enough evidence to force a chargeback reversal. Like we mentioned before, there are still ways for criminals to get around it. Signature confirmation, however, may help you challenge disputes and prevent them in the future.
Requiring delivery confirmation with signature means that packages are not left unattended, where they can be stolen. It can also help deter premeditated acts of chargeback abuse if you advertise that a signature will be required at delivery. Knowing that you will have evidence against them, cyber shoplifters may simply move their chargeback scam to a less-savvy retailer.
A delivery signature is valuable evidence to dispute a fraudulent chargeback claim through the representment process. In fact, a signature can benefit both merchants and honest customers: if the cardholder actually signed for the delivery, merchants will have tangible proof against friendly fraud. If a fraudster was somehow able to accept the goods with a forged signature, cardholders have evidence to support a fraud claim.
In terms of chargeback management, delivery confirmation with a signature is clearly the better choice. So why not use it for every order?
Well, as we pointed out earlier, it can be pricey, and cause friction with customers. The end result may not justify the added trouble and expense on lower-value orders. However, for high-ticket items—especially those that can be easily resold, such as electronics—requiring a signature with delivery confirmation is almost always a good idea. You have to consider the dynamics of the situation, and determine if the added cost is justified.
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Delivery Confirmation for Digital Goods
“Merchandise Not Received” (or “Services Not Provided”) chargebacks are even more common for those selling digital goods. With no carrier service involved, proof of delivery is quite different…and often open to interpretation.
Merchandise Not Received claims fall under Visa reason code 13.1. According to Visa, the evidence required for representment is any “Documentation to prove that the Cardholder or an authorized person received the merchandise or services at the agreed location or by the agreed date.”
This vague description is both helpful and harmful. On the one hand, since nothing is spelled out, merchants have options when accumulating delivery confirmation proof. You can draw deploy:
This confirms delivery as soon as the consumer accesses the product key.
Built-in kill switch
If the user files a chargeback, you can terminate access to the service or product.
Electronic signature page
Before use, the customers must indicate they have read and agree to the policies.
This texts a code to customers, asking them to verify account information.
Uses up-to-date data on IP addresses and other personal information for validation.
But, while any of these could be evidence of acceptance of delivery, Visa’s description is so broad that providing definitive, compelling evidence can be a challenge. Using multiple methods seems redundant; however, it offers greater protection in the end.
Thinking About the Big Picture
Delivery confirmation with signature can be a helpful tool in recovering lost revenue and lowering chargeback risk. It can be especially helpful for big-ticket purchases and/or items delivered digitally.
That said, no single technique is 100% successful at preventing or disputing chargebacks. There are many points where the protection mechanism can break down:
- Carrier personnel can make mistakes.
- Criminals can forge cardholders’ signatures or steal unattended packages.
- Friendly fraudsters can make claims that are hard to disprove.
And again, the chargeback representment process is subjective. Evidence that’s considered sufficient at one bank may not be enough at another. In fact, opinions can vary even within a single issuer’s chargeback department. Plus, even if you could prevent all Merchandise Not Received chargebacks with a delivery signature, there are many other reason codes that merchants need to worry about.
You can’t expect piecemeal chargeback management implementation to be effective. You have to analyze your overall goals and objectives, then create a long-term strategy for reducing chargebacks and recovering lost funds.
The experts at Chargebacks911® can create a custom comprehensive chargeback management solution suited to the unique needs of your business. Contact us today for a free chargeback analysis and see how much you could save.