Should You Fight Chargebacks? Of Course.
Noticed a bit of a spike in dispute cases? Or, maybe you’re already running perilously close to hitting your chargeback threshold?
Whatever the case: if you’re reading this, you probably already know that you need to fight back. But how?
Many merchants believe the time and money they spend to fight chargebacks is more trouble than it’s worth. They couldn’t be more wrong, though. Fighting back against chargebacks is an investment that can pay dividends if done correctly.
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Which Chargebacks Can You Fight?
Quick answer: only the invalid ones.
You can’t fight chargebacks that result from genuine criminal fraud, or from errors that you commit as a merchant. You can only fight disputes that are filed without a valid reason; a practice called “friendly fraud.”
Friendly fraud chargebacks can be filed by accident. For example, a cardholder might file a chargeback in place of a refund because they don’t understand the difference between the two processes. They can also be intentional; the cardholder knows they’re filing a dispute without a good reason, but are trying to get something for free.
Identifying friendly fraud can be hard because the indicators vary from case to case. However, some helpful questions to ask may include:
- Do you recall the transaction in question?
- Can you prove the cardholder approved the purchase?
- Does the chargeback reason code provided in your notice match your records?
- Does the language used in the dispute reflect your policies/practices?
- Can you prove that the purchased items arrived at the cardholder’s residence on time and in the advertised condition?
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If you can prove the cardholder is committing friendly fraud, you should absolutely fight back. Every illegitimate chargeback you ignore costs you time and revenue. It can also damage your reputation, make it harder to maintain good relationships with banks, and make cardholders more comfortable abusing chargebacks in the future.
It isn’t just your “right” to fight chargebacks; It’s your responsibility. So, let's look at how to fight chargeback fraud.
What to Do When You Get a Chargeback
The process of fighting chargebacks is called chargeback representment.
Representment lets you provide the bank with your side of the story in hopes of having your funds returned. During the process, you will submit the transaction again (literally “re-present” it). Along with the transaction information, you also need to provide other documentation and evidence to prove that the cardholder’s claim is invalid.
If your representment case convinces the issuing bank that you were not at fault, they will reverse their decision and return your money. Your case needs to be airtight, though. Otherwise, the bank’s original ruling will stand.
So, now that we’ve gone through hy you’d want to do this, let’s discuss how. After you’ve received a chargeback, identified the reason code, and determined that you should fight the claim, these are the next steps to take.
How to Fight Chargebacks: 4 Basic Steps to Win a Dispute
We’ve established which chargebacks you can—and can’t—fight. Now for the big question: how do you fight chargebacks?
Step #1 | Study the Terms
First, there is a predetermined window of time in which you can fight a chargeback. That time frame is critical; you will automatically forfeit the case if your documents are not submitted before the deadline.
In most cases, you will have 20-45 days in which to respond to a chargeback. Time limits vary by card network and reason code, though, so you should look into the specific terms tied to the reason code. Also, remember that the time frame for your response includes any processing required by the acquirer. As a result, you may only have a few days to submit your response.
Some banks may send merchants a Chargeback Debit Advice Letter. This will provide some straightforward advice for when and how to fight chargebacks based on the reason code attached.
Step #2 | Assemble Compelling Evidence
Banks will decide whether or not to reverse funds based on how compelling your evidence is. You need to put together an airtight case, explaining why the bank should change their mind and reverse the chargeback.
Acceptable evidence will vary significantly between the bank, card network, and reason code. That said, a few examples of compelling evidence include:
- Copies of the sales receipt and/or order forms
- Tracking numbers and proof of delivery
- A copy of your return policy, with proof that it’s easily accessible on your site
- Descriptions and screenshots of items as they appear on your site
- Any communications indicating successful delivery or customer satisfaction
Don’t forget: all evidence must be in response to the given reason/reason code. This is true even if you believe that reason to be false.
Step #3 | Draft a Rebuttal Letter
Aside from documentation that supports your case, you need to submit a formal chargeback rebuttal letter. This letter presents your argument and gives context to the evidence you provided. You will summarize the original transaction, explain why it was valid, and why it should stand.
Rebuttal letters need to be concise and free of emotion. Just present the facts in a clear, professional, and dispassionate manner. Always avoid over-explanation, and don’t rant about whether or not the process is “fair.”
Step #4 | Submit Your Representment
Once you’ve compiled your forms and included your rebuttal letter, it’s time to submit your representment package to your acquiring bank.
Your acquirer will review the case to make sure it’s complete and that all documents are present. This may include supporting documents like a Chargeback Adjustment Reversal Request, or a copy of the Chargeback Debit Advice Letter.
Your submission has to be in by the deadline provided by your acquirer; not the deadline allowed by the card network. The acquirer will often need time to conduct their review before passing the case on to the cardholder’s issuing bank.
What Happens Next?
After you submit your representment, the issuer will review the case and make a decision. Unfortunately, even if your case looks solid, that doesn’t always mean you're in the clear.
If the cardholder has presented new evidence, the issuer can dispute the transaction a second time. According to our survey data, the average merchant wins 32% of representment cases. This means that more than two-thirds of representment cases are rejected by the bank, resulting in a second chargeback. This is known as a “pre-arbitration,” or “pre-arb,” depending on the card brand.
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When a secondary chargeback occurs, you can choose to accept the chargeback or pursue the case through arbitration. The arbitration process is extremely expensive and time-consuming. In many cases, accepting the chargeback might be your best option at this stage.
Despite the risks involved, it’s crucial that you understand how to fight chargebacks, and work to challenge illegitimate chargebacks whenever possible. Remember: you will forfeit every case you choose to ignore.
Tips to Improve Your Odds
To protect your business, you need a comprehensive chargeback management strategy to prevent as many chargebacks as possible. But, some disputes will still come through, and those need to be challenged, especially if they're invalid.
To stack the odds in your favor, consider the following tips for how to fight chargebacks more effectively:
Here’s one last tip: know when to ask for help.
Chargebacks911® has the innovative strategies and technologies you need to relieve the burden of representment. Our attention before and after every case ensures a better chargeback win rate than any other method, all backed by the only performance-based ROI guarantee in the industry.
Want to know precisely how successful your chargeback representment efforts could be? Contact us today for a free, no-obligation ROI analysis.