What are the Most Common Reasons Cardholders File Chargebacks?
Many merchants accept chargebacks as simply a cost of doing business. Without a clear understanding of what transaction disputes are and the reasons cardholders file chargebacks, merchants are losing revenue and potentially hurting their relationship with card networks.
Chargeback Reason Codes
Each chargeback is assigned a reason code by the issuing bank, which is supposed to inform the merchant of the specific reason the transaction was disputed. While each card network has its own numbering system, the reasons are similar throughout the industry. Unfortunately, the coding system is not without its drawbacks.
Reason codes don’t show the real motivation for chargebacks; Intelligent Source Detection does. Click to learn more.
The issuing bank assign reason codes based on the cardholder’s explanation of what went wrong with the transaction. Everyone knows there are always two sides to every story, but the bank only considers one side of the argument—the consumer’s. Chargebacks often turn into a he said, she said type situation.
Consumers have learned how to exploit loopholes in the chargeback process, and it is easy to dispute a transaction with a claim that isn’t entirely accurate. If the consumer isn’t honest about the reason for the dispute, the wrong reason code is used, and the merchant is unable to identify the true chargeback trigger.
Bank vs. Consumer Chargebacks
Processing both the original credit card transaction and the resulting chargeback involves multiple parties: the cardholder, the merchant, the issuing bank, the acquirer and the card network.
Chargebacks can be instigated by the bank or the consumer. Unlike cardholder-filed chargebacks, most bank chargebacks occur without the knowledge or involvement of the cardholder.
A bank chargeback is instigated by the issuer when there is an anomaly in the transaction process. Bank chargebacks have reason codes exclusively for their use, and the chargeback can typically be resolved between the issuing bank and acquirer. The merchant’s involvement is to simply pay any associated chargeback fees.
The majority of chargebacks are initiated by the cardholder. These chargebacks result from either merchant error, criminal fraud, or friendly fraud. Depending on the reason code assigned, the merchant may have the opportunity to dispute the chargeback with representment.
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Common Chargeback Reason Codes
Every merchant, vertical and industry is different. The chargeback reason codes used most frequently against one merchant may be different than those of another. Some merchants may see more counterfeit transactions chargebacks, while others may suffer from higher credit-not-processed chargeback instances.
However, according to issuing bank reason codes, these are the most common reasons cardholders file chargebacks against the average merchant.
- Fraudulent transaction
- Products or services not as described
- Cardholder doesn't recognize the transaction
- Services not rendered or merchandise not received
- Credit not processed
- Duplicate processing
- Transaction amount differs from the agreed upon amount
- Cancelled recurring transaction
Each card network has its own coding system. Merchants need to thoroughly understand the charges levied against them in order to create the most compelling chargeback dispute case possible.
The following reason codes are used to describe transaction disputes initiated by cardholders. The popularity of each code is dependent on the business.
No cardholder authorization
|The cardholder did not authorize the transaction||Account information was obtained fraudulently by the person placing order
Cardholder’s family member used account without permission (friendly fraud)
Not as described or defective merchandise
Defective/Not as described
|Merchandise was… damaged or defective upon delivery; not as described (telephone) or shown (online); unsuitable for the consumer’s needs||The wrong item was sent
Items were damaged during shipping
Products or services were inaccurately described
Services were not performed as described
Product return was not accepted and/or credited back to account
Products were counterfeit
Quality of goods and services were inadequate
Transaction not recognized
Cardholder does not recognize—potential fraud
|The cardholder does not remember or recognize the transaction||The merchant’s name or billing address on the card statement was not recognized by the cardholder|
Services not provided or merchandise not received
Goods or services not provided
|Merchandise or services were not received by arranged delivery date||The merchant failed to provide services or product
The cardholder was billed before products were shipped
Items were not sent by arranged delivery date
Products were not made available for pickup
Credit not processed
Credit not processed
|The cardholder was not credited after an item was returned||Credit was not issued by the merchant; credit was issued after the statement date
The merchant neglected to inform the customer of the return policy at time of sale
|The transaction was processed multiple times||The merchant submitted a single batch of transactions multiple times
Both copies of the sales receipt were deposited
Receipt deposited with more than one acquirer
Transaction was processed multiple times
Cancelled recurring transaction
Cancelled recurring transaction
Installment billing dispute
|The recurring transaction was processed after the cardholder requested termination, the account was closed, the charge exceeded the predetermined amount, or the customer was not informed of the upcoming charge||The cardholder was charged after requesting transaction termination
The merchant processed a transaction for closed card
The customer was not notified of an increase in the transaction amount (must be notified in writing 10 days before the charge)
The merchant billed the customer prematurely on installment plan
Fraudulent multiple transactions
Fraudulent processing of transactions
|The cardholder has purchased from the merchant in past, but this transaction wasn’t authorized||The merchant failed to void multiple transactions
The merchant attempted to process fraudulent transactions
Incorrect transaction amount or account number
Transaction amount differs
|The card was not charged the correct amount||The merchant made a calculation error in the transaction amount
Without the cardholder’s consent, the transaction amount changed after the sale
The transaction amount increased without the cardholder consent
Incorrect currency or transaction code, or domestic transaction processing violation
Correct transaction currency code not provided
|The merchant failed to provide adequate currency information or process credit correctly||Credit was issued, but processed as sale
The cardholder was not permitted to make the purchase in merchant’s local currency
The sales receipt was not deposited in country where the purchase was made
The customer was not informed of currency conversion
Knowing the Real Reason
Merchants who are interested in understanding the common reasons cardholders file chargebacks won’t get the information they seek by analyzing chargeback reason codes.
Friendly fraud has made reason code intelligence less effective. By exploiting loopholes in the chargeback process, consumers are able to file transaction disputes with reason codes that don’t accurately portray the real motivation for the chargeback.
Chargebacks911® created Intelligent Source Detection™, a patent-pending technology capable of identifying the real reason behind the reason code. We are able to help merchants distinguish the true chargeback triggers and implement effective management techniques.
If you want to know the real reasons cardholders file chargebacks, contact us today. We can tell you exactly what you want to know!
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