A chargeback occurs when a customer (or his credit card company) disputes and sends back a charge that was presented to his credit card. As the merchant, you can usually fight this result by appealing the chargeback with your merchant services provider. You must prove your case with indisputable evidence of your right to collect the funds from the customer in order win the appeal. However, the chances of winning a chargeback appeal after a bank has rejected the charge are usually slim.
Ask your merchant services provider for full details of the chargeback so that you know how to address the matter. Common reasons for chargebacks include unauthorized use of the card, non-receipt or complaints that the item was not as described.
Write a formal letter outlining your appeal and address it to your merchant services provider. Include the date, amount and description of the transaction as well as your merchant account number, business name and contact information.
Include proof of your authorization to charge the customer's card for the items sold. If the customer claims non-receipt, provide signed proof of delivery to the order address --- preferably with a signature that matches the customer name. In some cases you need to prove shipment to the credit card billing address in order to win the appeal. If the dispute was for unauthorized use, show a signed receipt if available. While this is not possible for online orders, showing that the customer entered a CVV code (card verification code) may suffice. It is difficult to prove the customer's satisfaction with your product unless he sent you a letter or email expressing a positive review, but if you publish a return policy that doesn't allow returns, send this in with your appeal.
Send your appeal details and proof to the merchant services provider via email or fax and await a decision. If the provider investigates, finds that you're in the right and successfully negotiates to reverse the chargeback with the credit card company, you'll receive the credit back for the sale. At the minimum, the merchant services provider may refund the chargeback fee depending on the terms of your merchant services agreement.
Tips & Warnings
- If the chargeback appeal is denied, you must simply consider this a cost of doing business and be careful not to take a credit card sale from that customer again. Some companies use specialized computer systems to analyze and identify customers who purposely dispute credit card charges to get free goods and services (also called "Friendly Fraud"). If for a large sum, consult a lawyer about either contacting the authorities or pursuing the recipient of the goods in a small-claims case.
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