3 Tips for Surviving the Post-Holiday Chargeback Rush

3 Tips for Surviving the Post-Holiday Chargeback Rush

January 3, 2019

[Editor's note: January is Chargeback Recovery Month at Card Not Present (sponsored by Sift Science). While many retailers count on the holiday rush for revenue, more orders means more chargebacks. November and December may be jolly, but January can be a huge headache for those who are not prepared. Check back here throughout the month for updated content detailing what merchants can do to more effectively handle the increase in chargebacks coming in the new year.]

A record-breaking season of holiday shopping is over, having generated $7.8 billion in revenue. That means the chargebacks have just begun! The massive increase in order volume over the holidays can wreak havoc on shipping companies and the USPS. Before Q4, FedEx and other companies like to set customers' expectations low by letting them know that their items might arrive late—or not at all.

Dishonest customers often take advantage of that messaging to file a chargeback, claiming they never received an item that's been sitting under the tree for weeks. And, it's not just scammers: impatient shoppers whose items might be on the way, but who are frustrated with the delayed arrival time, might file chargebacks too. The post-holiday chargeback rush is no joke. Here are three tips to help you make it through.

1. Don't hesitate to contact the cardholder

Sometimes a chargeback is friendly fraud, but other times it's just an honest mistake. Maybe the buyer didn't recognize the charge on their card because the bill was vague. Maybe their kid got hold of their credit card or phone and placed an order. In these cases, the customer probably doesn't want or need to go through the lengthy chargeback process—and you certainly don't.

Reach out to the buyer and see if there's a way to resolve any miscommunication, which might prompt them to drop the chargeback. Sometimes, all it takes is for the buyer to hear a human voice on the other end of the phone: a customer service rep who cares enough to have a quick chat. To sweeten the deal, some merchants offer a promo code for future orders if the buyer drops the chargeback.

2. Be fast

This time of year is basically Black Friday for payment processors. Processors handle thousands of cases after the holiday season. The agent in charge of the case is looking for any reason to close the case quickly. To speed things up, some payment processors have time limits on cases. Visa Claims Resolution shortened the timeframe to challenge a dispute to 30 days. It's generally a good practice to respond to your payment processor within seven days.

Think you need more time than that? You might be taking too long to put together your cases. Remember, the customer service reps reviewing chargebacks don't have time to read a book—and don't assume they would understand the book you've written! Make your point clearly, quickly, and concisely.

3. Document everything.

Ideally, you'll already have a paper trail by the time a chargeback rolls in: shipping date, email correspondence with the customer and payment info. In a pinch, you can use screenshots of billing/shipping info and IP addresses from your antifraud tool.

Once armed with this information, you'll be ready to present your case to the payment processor. Make sure the information is clear and typed (the reps reviewing chargebacks often use archaic software that might make handwritten pages difficult to read). Be thorough, but concise. Good luck!

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