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Disputing Hotel Chargebacks: Why and What Documentation Is Critical


Every hotel's mission is to provide guests with the best experience possible. Hoteliers also understands that, even with the utmost effort and attention, sometimes guests walk away unhappy for whatever reason. 

This is why preparing for chargebacks and doing your due diligence ahead of time is so critical. It's very easy for a guest to initiate and win a chargeback for any reason, legitimate or not. Fortunately, there are a lot of best practices you can put in place to protect your business, one of which is having the right documentation in place.

When a dispute arises, documentation is evidence you can use to support your case.

What documentation should I have in place?

Terms and Conditions

By now, you probably have terms and conditions documented. But are they easy to find and review? Are they easy to understand? Do guests have to officially agree and accept them? Clear policies are critical, and these include cancellation policies, refund policies, and any other relevant information. Of course, if a dispute arises, these terms and conditions can be referenced to show that the guest was aware of and agreed to them.

Communication History

Saving records of communication between you and your guest, such as emails or chat transcripts, is also essential. This documentation helps demonstrate your proactiveness and responsiveness in helping the guest, defending against claims of dissatisfaction or lack of awareness.

Transaction Records

Keeping detailed records of transactions, including the date, time, and amount, helps verify the legitimacy of the transaction, countering claims of unauthorized or fraudulent transactions. Maintaining detailed records also creates an audit trail. Lastly, be sure you and your guests receive a legitimate receipt.

Signature Documents and Cardholder Verification

Getting e-signatures on documents, such as authorization forms and event contracts, is as important as verifying the identity of the cardholder. AVS and 3-D Secure are two easy ways to ensure the card being used is in possession of the true cardholder.

Training and Internal Communication

Documentation aids in training staff on how to handle reservations, changes, and guest interactions – and guarantee consistency.

In short, clear and organized documentation strengthens your position and likelihood of winning a chargeback dispute. Even better, a solution like Sertifi makes it easy to compile all your evidence – and as you know, when you're in the midst of a chargeback, time is of the essence.

Sertifi’s helped 18,500+ unique organizations protect revenue with our credit card authorization and event payment processing solutions. Let’s chat to see how you can create greater efficiency and security in your processes while reducing costs.

About the author

Amy King

Amy King is the director of brand and content marketing at Sertifi. In collaboration with teams across and outside of Sertifi, she guides brand and creative marketing, content strategy, public relations, and community engagement.