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Everything You Need to Prepare Your Chargeback Defense

Chargebacks are inevitable in the hospitality industry and can be costly and time-consuming. But thanks to solutions like Sertifi, you can catch customer disputes before your business is affected. All that’s left is to defend your position and respond, but time is of the essence. We’re sharing some guidelines to help you quickly handle disputes to protect your bottom line. 

The Merchant’s Position 

If you deem that the charge being disputed is valid, solving the dispute without getting the cardholder’s bank involved is ideal. The best initial response is to contact the cardholder directly, offer another means of resolution, and encourage them to withdraw the dispute. 

If you do need to contact their bank, the burden is on your business to provide evidence and prove: 

    • The person who made the purchase owns the card and authorized the purchase. 
    • The cardholder understood and accepted your Terms of Service and Cancellation/Refund policy at the time of purchase. 
    • The services delivered were clearly detailed.  

Keep in mind that if you do not submit evidence, the dispute automatically closes. 

Best Practices for Responding to Disputes

☑️ Present a clear case.

Remember that there is a human reviewing your case. Therefore, a clear, point-by-point narrative makes it easy for them to decide in your favor. Make sure your defense covers the following components:

    • Outline the evidence you are submitting and why it supports your case.
    • Address the specific reason for the dispute.
    • Demonstrate that you’ve notified the customer and provided information that disproves fraudulent activity. 
    • Demonstrate that the dispute reason is not applicable or incorrect.
    • Keep your evidence relevant and to the point. Provide only the facts surrounding the original purchase, using a neutral and professional tone.

☑️ Cater to the reviewer. 

To organize your defense, consider using these formatting details to make it easy to follow: 

    • Bulleted lists  
    • Circles, arrows, and/or callout boxes (but don’t cover up text) 
    • High resolution screenshots (files must be 4.5MB or less) 

Also, remember that evidence is often transmitted by fax, so it’s best practice to: 

    • Avoid hyperlinking to other information (if you do need to include a link, share the entire URL instead of linking text) 
    • Including colored images 
    • Coloring or highlighting text

☑️ Include proof of customer authorization.

Prove the legitimate cardholder was aware of and authorized the transaction in such cases. Any data that shows proof of this is a standard part of a compelling response, such as:  

    • Signed receipts, contracts, and/or terms of service and refund policies 
    • AVS (Address Verification System) matches  
    • CVC (Card Verification Code) confirmations  
    • IP address that matches the cardholder’s verified billing address  
    • Any other evidence of authorization (e.g., 3-D S Secure authentication)  
    • Copies of customer communications

☑️ Demonstrate due diligence.

When fighting a dispute, there’s no such thing as being over prepared. Protect your business by being thorough and including the following: 

    • Details of the purchase, including a copy of the itemized contract 
    • Consumer’s full name (who made the purchase) 
    • Registered email address of the consumer 
    • Telephone number of the consumer  
    • IP address associated with the transaction

NOTE: If you use any additional methods to verify these details, include that in your evidence.


Sertifi Fraud and Chargebacks Education Webinar

Using Sertifi’s authorization solution and AI-powered fraud tools, customers have reduced chargebacks by 80% and saved thousands. Our payment processing solution also makes it easier to dispute chargebacks initiated for legitimate transactions guests are aware of. Tune into our upcoming webinar to learn how you can use Sertifi to increase efficiency and protect your bottom line.

About the author

Mimi McNulty

Mimi McNulty is a Marketing Generalist at Sertifi. While she makes a point to have a pulse on all things Sertifi, Mimi is responsible for the company's social media channels, event coordination, and blog. She also assists with content creation, creative marketing, content strategy, and internal marketing ventures. Mimi is a communication enthusiast with a passion for storytelling and media relations.