In general, accepting credit cards is incredibly convenient for you and your customers. You get paid quickly, you don't need to invoice customers or wait for checks to clear, you can process future charges instantly, and it all feels easy for your customers who have plenty of practice making credit card purchases online.
Although disputes are not common, they can be part of the reality of accepting credit cards. Below are some of our most frequently asked questions about how disputes work, how to handle disputes, and how you can take steps to try to reduce the frequency of disputes in the first place.
What is a dispute?
A dispute is your customer telling their bank that a charge you processed should be returned to them. This can happen if a customer doesn't recognize a charge, believes they were charged incorrectly or feels that they should be refunded.
Can I fight a dispute?
Yes. We'll let you know if a customer disputes a charge and we'll offer to submit evidence to the customer's bank on your behalf. The best way to resolve a dispute is to discuss it directly with the customer. In some instances, the customer may not have recognized the charge or may have forgotten about it and would be happy to receive a refund from you rather than through a dispute. If the dispute was effectively a mistake, the customer can contact their bank or card company and ask to withdraw the dispute. Otherwise, the dispute can take months to resolve through a process that is in the bank's control.
What happens if I lose a dispute?
We'll let you know the outcome of any dispute. Disputes are decided by the customer's bank according to the bank's criteria and process. Lost disputes incur a $15 charge. It is ultimately up to the bank to make a final determination, and the result cannot be appealed.
What happens if I win a dispute?
Often when a dispute is initiated, the funds are immediately returned to the customer while the bank considers the evidence. If the evidence that you submit is accepted and you win the dispute, the funds are returned to you.
Why is Sawyer letting my customers dispute legitimate charges?
Every credit card payment placed for any product or service on any system online or in-person can be disputed. No matter what system you use, the best way to prevent disputed charges is to take steps to make sure that your customers are always expecting every charge and that no charge is seen as illegitimate. Although there's no way to completely eliminate the possibility that a customer will dispute a charge, there's a lot that you can do to discourage disputes.
How can I discourage disputes?
Unfortunately, there's no way to completely guarantee that you will never receive a dispute. However, you can implement measures to try to reduce the likelihood that your customers will see any charge as illegitimate and feel the need to dispute it.
The best way to avoid a dispute is to make it easy for customers to communicate directly with you about any discrepancy, rather than relying on their bank for a more rapid or satisfying resolution.
- Communicate Constantly - Consistent communication with customers to set expectations can reduce the likelihood that they won't recognize a charge
- Reply Quickly - Establishing a precedent of reliable response-time can encourage customers to reach out to you directly, rather than going right to their bank about any charge that doesn't seem right to them
- Be Accessible - Making your contact information easy to find can also encourage customers to try to resolve any issues with you directly
Finally, clearly communicating cancelation and refund policies to customers can cut down on confusion or frustration in the event that these policies become relevant.