On the list of things the small business owner worries about the most, the word “chargeback” is likely listed very close to the top. What are chargebacks? Essentially, a chargeback is a reversal of funds transferred. A chargeback refunds a customer via the card issuing bank and the merchant’s bank. The original purpose of the chargeback was to protect customers. While the customer is protected, too many chargebacks can have seriously negative consequences for the merchant.
Chargebacks not only ruin a merchant’s reputation, they can also result in the merchant’s account being frozen. In the worst cases, they can even lead to the merchant account being terminated altogether. Each chargeback results in fees and penalties. If they are proven valid, they are then debited from the merchant’s account. This makes them not only risky, but expensive. The answer? Avoid them at all costs.
Reasons for Chargebacks
Chargebacks are issues for a number of reasons. Some are the result of technical errors; such as, expired authorization, simple bank errors, etc. Chargebacks can also occur from clerical errors (accidental duplicate billing, refund the was never issued, incorrect dollar amount billed, etc.). In some cases, the customer is simply unsatisfied with the quality of the product or service. This then leads them to communicate their dissatisfaction and request a refund. Finally, some chargebacks – not all – are the result of a legitimate case of fraud. In the event the consumer’s card information is stolen and a purchase was made, they report it was made without their consent.
How to Prevent Chargebacks
Believe it or not, there are ways your business can avoid chargebacks. Consider the following tips that will considerably reduce the number of chargebacks your business experiences:
- Be clear. The majority of chargebacks could have been avoided if communication between the merchant and customer had been stronger, more open. Start by making sure you provide clear descriptions of your product and service policies to avoid confusion. That being said, you should also put an easy refund policy in place. You want your customers to be satisfied, reducing the likelihood they will feel the need to initiate a chargeback.
- Check, and double check. Always make sure your customers sign their sales receipt in card-present transactions. You can take this a step further by checking that their signature is similar to the one located on the back of their card. (You should never accept a card that hasn’t been signed.)
- Provide contact information. Many card processing errors can be avoided or easily fixed by simply providing consumers with your business’ contact information on receipts or on your website. If customers have a quick and easy way to contact you, they will go to you to have errors fixed rather than initiating a chargeback. In addition, transaction details located on credit card statements are sometimes unclear to the consumer. If this occurs and the customer doesn’t recognize your business name, the consumer may also begin the chargeback process.
- Keep organized records. Unfortunately, there are individuals out there that hope filing fraudulent chargebacks will result in free products/services. This leads to merchants losing millions of dollars every year. You can prevent many of these chargebacks by keeping organized, complete and legible sales receipts that provide proof during chargeback disputes.
- Seek Support. eMerchantBroker offers merchants chargeback protection and prevention programs. Through strategic partnerships with Verifi and CDRN, EMB’s chargeback shield almost eliminates the frequency of chargebacks by 15-30%. In addition to monitoring and tracking chargebacks, this program also alerts merchants when a dispute is filed.
Following these steps will help your business maintain an honorable reputation, while also keeping an eye out for fraudulent chargebacks. Remember, many chargebacks are the result of a misunderstanding or a lack of communication. Staying proactive and taking preventive measure can save you a lot of time and money.