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Chargeback Representment Resources Hub

A merchant guide to recovering revenue through chargeback representment. We explain how it works, and show you how to increase your chances of winning.

The Chargeback Representment Process Explained

The Chargeback Representment Process Explained

So, you’ve received a customer chargeback.

Your first reaction is probably a mix of frustration and confusion. You want to know what went wrong, so you study the documentation. That’s when you realize that nothing went “wrong.” The customer is just making a false claim (a practice called friendly fraud). That frustration is quickly turning to anger…but what can you do?

Chargeback representment is your opportunity to recover revenue from invalid customer disputes. It’s a complex but vital process that can play a crucial role in your long-term business sustainability.

What Is Representment?

Chargeback Representment

[noun]/* chahrj • bak • reprə • zent • ment /

Chargeback representment is a strictly regulated process for fighting an invalid payment card chargeback. Representment involves submitting evidence to the bank proving that a transaction was valid and that the cardholder’s claim should be overturned.

When a cardholder files a chargeback, they are essentially disputing a transaction, claiming that it was unauthorized, fraudulent, or involved some form of issue. In response, merchants have two options:

Accept the Chargeback

Accept the Chargeback

This is the quickest way to be done with it. However, you lose the sales revenue, the merchandise or service provided, and the wholesale cost of the goods. You’re also responsible for any associated fees and expenses like shipping, packaging, fulfillment, and interchange.

Fight the Chargeback

Fight the Chargeback

You can contest the claim through the representment process. If you produce evidence to prove that the customer’s claim is unwarranted, the bank will reverse the chargeback and return the funds to your account.

The primary purpose of chargeback representment is to provide a fair opportunity to defend against unwarranted chargebacks. It allows you to submit compelling evidence to the issuing bank to prove that the transaction in question was valid and that the cardholder's claim should be overturned.

You’ll still be responsible for paying a chargeback fee to cover your acquirer’s administration costs, even if the chargeback claim is invalid. However, the chance to clear your name and recover your revenue through a chargeback reversal may be well-worth the investment.

Why Representment Matters

The most obvious reason to challenge a dispute is to recover funds that are rightfully yours. Merchants lose billions of dollars every year to chargeback abuse. Representment will let you recover some of that money.

Even beyond the financial loss, you will always stand to lose more if you don’t fight back. For instance, a string of unchallenged chargebacks makes you look like a risk to banks. This could lead to higher fees. It could even make it harder to find a processor or acquirer who’s willing to work with you.

Moreover, representment is an important means of asserting your rights as a merchant. It helps prevent fraudulent or abusive chargeback practices and contributes to the overall integrity of the payment system.

Over the long haul, contesting invalid chargebacks on a consistent basis will have a positive impact on your bottom line. It lets you protect your good reputation with banks and consumers, and also lower the number of chargebacks you’ll see in the future.

Learn about your chargeback rights

What Happens Before Representment?

Before you can re-present a chargeback, you have to identify where the chargeback came from. This can be a little tricky.

The dispute process can be initiated by a cardholder complaint. It can also start if the issuer detects a problem with the transaction. In both cases, the decision to file a chargeback ultimately rests with the issuing bank.

The acquirer will receive the claim from the issuer, who passes it along to you. Your first step is to identify the chargeback reason code, which is a kind of shorthand that indicates why the transaction is being disputed. The reason code may not reflect the true reason for the chargeback. Nevertheless, you must respond to the chargeback based on the given code.

Learn more about chargeback reason codes

Build & Submit a Representment Case in 4 Steps

Now that you understand the basic concept, how do you actually get started?

Let’s examine the representment process, step-by-step. After you receive a chargeback, identify the reason code, and determine whether you should fight, these are the next steps to take:

Step 01

Note the Response Time Limit

You have a very limited window for responding to a chargeback. That time frame is critical. If your submission gets pushed even one day past the deadline, you will automatically forfeit the case. The amount of time you have will vary by card scheme and reason code. You need to look for specifics attached to the dispute notification.

Your bank may send you a form called the Chargeback Debit Advice Letter. This should provide a straightforward outline for when and how to respond to the specific reason code.

Step 02

Assemble Compelling Evidence

To win a chargeback representment, you’ll need to provide what banks call “compelling evidence.” Again, acceptable evidence can vary a lot based on the bank, card network, and reason code. Common 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 it is easily accessible on your site
  • Descriptions and screenshots of items as they appear on your site
  • Any communications indicating successful delivery or customer satisfaction

Remember: all evidence must be in response to the given reason/reason code, even if you believe that reason to be false.

Step 03

Draft a Rebuttal Letter

Along with the documents supporting your case, you must submit a formal outline of the case called a chargeback rebuttal letter. This should include a summary of your evidence and show how it collectively proves the transaction is valid.

Rebuttal letters should be concise and free of emotion. Just present the facts in a clear, professional, and dispassionate manner. Always avoid overblown explanations, and don’t try to rant about whether or not the process is “fair.”

Step 04

Compile Forms
& Submit Your Representment

All evidence must be submitted to your acquiring bank, which will pass it along to the issuing bank. The issuer then reviews the case and makes a ruling.

Once again, we have to stress the importance of keeping up with deadlines, following the bank’s specific mandates, and providing sufficient evidence. Ignoring any of these means the chargeback representment will fail.

You may also need to include supporting documents as well. These can include a Chargeback Adjustment Reversal Request, a Chargeback Debit Advice Letter, and more.

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Chargeback Win Rate: How to Judge Representment Success

In simple terms, a chargeback win rate is the percentage of chargebacks you successfully dispute and win. It tells you how often your evidence and arguments are convincing enough to reverse a chargeback and get your money back.

A high win rate shows you're doing well at defending yourself against unjustified chargebacks and getting your money back. On the other hand, if your chargeback win rate is low, it means you might be struggling to overturn chargebacks successfully. This could be because you lack enough evidence or made mistakes in the process. A consistently low win rate can lead to financial losses, so it's essential to work on improving it.

Watching your win rates over time can help you spot any patterns or changes. If you see a sudden drop, investigate what's causing it and make improvements. Regular monitoring helps you stay on top of dispute resolution.

Learn more about chargeback win rates

Improve Your Odds of Winning

Winning a chargeback representment is not impossible… but it’s not easy. To stack the odds in your favor, consider the following tips:

  • Understand the system: Know and understand the most current applicable chargeback representment regulations before a dispute happens.
  • Create a filing system: Devise a system for collecting and organizing essential documents so they can be located quickly.
  • Don’t waste any time: To meet the tight deadlines of representment, you must gather evidence and respond as quickly as possible.
  • Know the codes: To know what to submit, you’ll need to stay current on all the most recent, specific reason codes for each card network.
  • Tell your side of the story: The rebuttal letter is the cornerstone of your representment case. Keep the wording clear, concise, and professional.
  • Don’t rely on automation: Automated systems can streamline the representment process, but their inflexibility will mean incomplete or inaccurate responses.
  • Get to know the bank: Consult with multiple issuing banks to determine the best way to respond. Pattern your cases based on what you learn.
  • Fight all your battles: Responding to every illegitimate dispute is the best way to maximize revenue retention and protect your reputation.

Finally, and most importantly: Do the follow-up.

It can be hard to obtain — let alone analyze — your representment results. That said, you have to put the effort in to track patterns, risks, and key performance indicators (KPIs). You have to learn what is or isn’t working and how much of a return you’re receiving on your investment.

Learn to improve your odds of winning a chargeback

What Happens After Representment?

If you submit a representment, the issuer will examine your evidence and make a decision. They will either:

Rule in your favor, reverse the initial chargeback, and close the case.

Rule in favor of the cardholder and reject your claim based on the original evidence.

Rule in favor of the cardholder and reject your claim based on new evidence.

The average merchant has a representment win rate of 32%, according to survey data. In other words, more than two-thirds of chargeback cases will get rejected by the bank, resulting in a second chargeback. This is known as a “pre-arbitration” or “pre-arb” chargeback, depending on the card brand.

Second Chargebacks & Pre-Arbitration

Both Mastercard and Visa, as major payment card networks, have established processes to handle disputes that escalate beyond the initial chargeback stage. These processes are designed to address cases in which the cardholder and the merchant remain in disagreement after the first chargeback has been reviewed.

The Mastercard Arbitration process is initiated when a merchant decides to contest a second chargeback issued by the cardholder’s bank. This second chargeback typically occurs after the initial chargeback has been challenged through representment but remains unresolved. Arbitration is the next step in the dispute resolution process, whereby Mastercard reviews the case and makes a final decision based on the evidence presented by both parties.

Learn more about Mastercard Arbitration

Visa's Pre-Arbitration process serves a similar purpose to the one outlined above. When a dispute persists beyond the initial chargeback phase, and the merchant still believes the chargeback is unjustified, they can enter the Pre-Arb stage. Visa reviews the case, evaluates the evidence, and makes a final determination, much like Mastercard Arbitration.

Learn more about Visa Pre-Arbs

Key Similarities

Ultimately, the Mastercard Arbitration and Visa Pre-Arbitration processes share a common objective. Both are meant to provide a fair and conclusive resolution for disputes that have escalated beyond the initial chargeback phase. While the terminology and specific procedures may differ slightly between the two networks, their fundamental purpose and function are essentially the same:

  • Both processes are the final stage in resolving disputes after the initial chargeback
  • Merchants have the opportunity to present evidence to support their case.
  • The payment card networks (Mastercard and Visa) act as impartial arbiters, making a binding decision.
  • The outcome of Arbitration or Pre-Arbitration is binding, meaning that the decision made by the network is final

Next Steps

So, card network arbitration failed. Does that mean you’re out of options? Not entirely.

Pursuing debt collection is one option if arbitration proves unsuccessful. This involves attempting to recover outstanding debts through legal means. While it may involve additional costs and complexities, it can be a viable route if the goods or services in question justify the effort and expenses associated with debt collection

Learn more about chargebacks & debt collection

You may also consider taking the cardholder to small claims court. Small claims court is designed to handle disputes involving relatively small amounts of money (less than $10,000). This legal avenue allows you to present your case before a judge who will make a final decision. Keep in mind that the specific rules and procedures for small claims vary by jurisdiction, so you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the process in your area.

Learn about the legal process of pursuing disputes

Before considering further action, carefully evaluate the merits of your case and weigh the potential benefits against the associated costs. Legal action should be seen as an outlier option when all other avenues have been exhausted and the goods or services in question justify the pursuit of debt collection or small claims court.

Solving the Challenges of Chargeback Representment

Here’s the sad truth: the chances of winning a chargeback reversal on your own are dishearteningly low.

Complex regulations and limited time frames make it hard to present a single chargeback reversal case…let alone prepare multiple cases on an ongoing basis. Plus, there are other barriers to handling representment as part of your day-to-day operations:

  • You won’t fully understand the fast-changing terms, detailed scheme regulations, or trends in consumer behaviors.
  • You won’t be able to stay ahead of evolving fraud tactics.
  • You could do more harm than good with an over-aggressive approach to representment.
  • You won’t have access to proper intelligence and analysis.
  • You’ll spend time and resources dealing with past issues, which should be spent ensuring future growth.

Here’s the good news, though: you don’t have to do it alone.

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 exactly how successful your chargeback representment efforts could be? Contact us today for a free, no-obligation ROI analysis.


What is the meaning of representment?

Chargeback representment is a strictly regulated process for fighting an invalid payment card chargeback. Representment involves submitting evidence to the bank proving that a transaction was valid and that the cardholder’s claim should be overturned.

What is the difference between presentment and representment?

Presentment refers to the initial process of submitting a transaction to the bank for payment. Representment, on the other hand, is the process of disputing a chargeback by providing evidence to prove that a transaction was valid and should not be reversed.

What is the next stage to representment?

The next step after representment, if unsuccessful, may involve arbitration or pre-arbitration processes, depending on the payment card network. These processes provide a final resolution to payment disputes by having the network review the case and make a binding decision.

What is the difference between representment and arbitration?

Representment is the process by which a merchant disputes a chargeback by providing evidence to the payment card issuer, aiming to prove that the transaction was valid and should not be reversed. It occurs before the dispute escalates further. Arbitration, on the other hand, is a formal process usually used after representment when the chargeback dispute remains unresolved. In arbitration, the payment card network acts as an impartial arbiter, reviewing the evidence from both the merchant and cardholder to make a binding decision concluding the dispute.

Who should a merchant convince during the representment process?

During the representment process, a merchant needs to convince the payment card issuer (bank or financial institution) that the disputed transaction was valid and should not result in a chargeback. They must provide compelling evidence to persuade the issuer to reverse the chargeback and restore the funds to the merchant's account.

Who decides who wins a chargeback?

The decision of who wins a chargeback representment is ultimately made by the payment card issuer, which is typically the cardholder's bank or financial institution. They review the evidence presented by both the merchant and the cardholder and make a determination based on the merits of the case.

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