Responding to Disputes
How to respond to disputes using best practices.
In response to the elevated disputes faced by many merchants in the travel and entertainment industries due to COVID-19, Visa and MasterCard have issued guidelines for resolving them. These guidelines relate specifically to goods and services canceled directly due to a government order or prohibition.
For all industries, the best actions you can take are to proactively communicate with your customers and issue refunds where appropriate, especially when requested.
Where to View Disputes
Disputes can be found in the QorCommerce Merchant Portal. Each one includes all relevant information about the payment being disputed and the reason the cardholder reported to the card issuer. When you receive a dispute, you have the opportunity to respond to it and submit the appropriate evidence or accept it.
When a dispute occurs, QorCommerce receives a notification of the disputed payment and sends you an automated email about it. If your integration is set up to receive webhooks, QorCommerce also sends a
Inquiries and Retrievals
Inquiries and retrievals appear as disputed payments in the QorCommerce Merchant Portal.
If an inquiry or retrieval is escalated to a chargeback, you must update your response and re-submit it.
Responding to disputes in the Merchant Portal
Refund disputed payments
You cannot refund a payment that has been formally disputed—the customer has already been refunded via the dispute process.
We recommend most users respond within the QorCommerce Merchant Portall. The QorCommerce Merchant Portal guides you through the submission process, step-by-step—automatically formatting the information you provide. You’re asked to provide different pieces of evidence and upload any necessary files, depending on the dispute type. All this works to increase the likelihood of a dispute being found in your favor.
If you receive a dispute, you may want to first get in touch with the customer and discuss it before you respond. It’s possible that they simply did not recognize or remember the transaction when they viewed their statement. If an email address was provided to QorCommerce when creating the payment (when you send an email receipt), click Email customer to create a new email that contains information about the dispute.
Always submit evidence if you hope to reclaim funds on a dispute, even if your customer claims to have withdrawn the dispute or that the dispute was in error. Submitting evidence sends the right signal to start the dispute review process and potentially return your funds. Failing to do so may cause significant delays in dispute processing, including forfeiting your right to reclaim disputed funds.
There is a limited period of time that disputes can be responded to—the amount of time available is provided within the dispute information as ‘respond by’. After that time has passed, no further responses or evidence can be submitted.
In some cases, such as with evidence we consider valid per network rules, we will auto-submit evidence at the deadline. This is a best-effort courtesy, but not a guarantee.
Once you’ve submitted a response, the dispute’s status is changed to disputed. If a dispute is found in your favor, this changes to won. If the card issuer upholds the cardholder’s dispute, the status changes to lost. Once a dispute is closed, we send you an email with information about the outcome and a dispute.closed webhook event.
The evidence you submit should be appropriate to the reason for the dispute. Web logs, email communications, shipment tracking numbers and delivery confirmation, proof of prior refunds or replacement shipments, etc., can all be helpful. For example, a response to a dispute with the reason “product not received” should have evidence that includes shipping information and any screenshots of package tracking. QorCommerce electronically submits this information to your cardholder’s issuer and notifies you of any updates to the dispute.
Don’t include audio or video files, requests to call or email for more information, or links to click for further information (e.g., file downloads or links to tracking information) because the card issuer evaluating the dispute won’t take action on these. Card issuers won’t call merchants or follow external links, so it’s important to submit all available evidence through QorCommerce.
QorCommerce formats the evidence you provide into a format accepted by card issuers. This includes all mandatory payment information (e.g., amount, date of payment), CVC or postal code verification results (if available), and any additional information or documents that you provide.
Dispute evidence can only be submitted once. Make sure to provide all relevant information and review it carefully before you submit it.
You can prepare a suitable response that has the most relevant evidence using the following best practices. These can help ensure you have the greatest possible chance of a dispute being found in your favor—and your funds returned.
Keep Your Evidence Relevant and To The Point
Card issuers review thousands of dispute responses every day. A long introduction about your product or company, complaint about the customer, or the unfairness of the dispute isn’t going to make your responses more compelling. Instead, provide only the facts surrounding the original purchase, using a neutral and professional tone.
You may want to take some time to investigate the dispute while collecting evidence to submit. For instance, you can take a look at Google Maps and Street View to see where your delivery took place, or check social media like Facebook or LinkedIn to help establish the customer as the legitimate cardholder.
Many merchants also include email correspondence or texts with the customer, but it’s important to be aware that these exchanges do not verify identity. If you’re going to include them, make sure only the relevant information is included (e.g., if you’re going to include a long email thread, redact any text that is only quoting previous emails).
Your evidence should be factual, professional, and concise. While providing little evidence is a problem, overwhelming the card issuer with unnecessary information can have the same effect.
Provide Clear and Accurate Evidence
Card issuers do not follow any links provided in a response. Instead, you must include a clear screenshot of your terms or policies as they appear during checkout or on your site if they are an important part of your defense (e.g., a customer disputed a subscription but there is a minimum contract term that must be adhered to).
Include Proof of Customer Authorization
Fraudulent disputes account for over half of all disputes. Proving the legitimate cardholder was aware of and authorized the transaction being disputed is vitally important in such cases. Any data that shows proof of this is a standard part of a compelling response, such as:
- AVS (Address Verification System) matches
- CVC (Card Verification Code) confirmations
- Signed receipts or contracts
- IP address that matches the cardholder's verified billing address
QorCommerce always includes any AVS/CVC results as well as the purchase IP (if available from your QorCommerce integration), but if you have any other evidence of authorization (e.g., 3DS authentication) be sure to include it.
Include Proof of Delivery or Service
In addition to fraudulent disputes, claims from cardholders that products or services never arrived or happened, were defective or unsatisfactory, or not as described are also potential dispute reasons. Assuming that all is well on your side (the product was not faulty, was as described, was shipped and delivered prior to the dispute date) then you’ll want to provide proof of service or delivery.
For a merchandise purchase, provide proof of shipment and delivery that includes the full delivery address, not just the city and ZIP code. Choosing a carrier or delivery method that requires a signature on delivery provides the best defense against product not received or fraudulent disputes where you’ve shipped to a verified billing address that has passed AVS and ZIP code verification.
If your customer provides a “Ship To” name that differs from their own (e.g., gift purchase), be prepared to provide documentation explaining why they are different. While it’s common practice to purchase and ship to an address that doesn’t match the card’s verified billing address, this is an additional dispute risk.
If your business provides digital goods, include evidence such as an IP address or system log proving the customer downloaded the content or used your software or service.
Include a Copy of Your Terms of Service and Refund Policy
When it comes to disputes, fine print matters. Providing proof that your customer agreed to and understood your terms of service at checkout, or did not follow your policies when it comes to returns or refunds is critical. A clean screenshot of how your terms of service or other policies are presented during checkout is an important addition to your evidence—it is not enough to simply include a text copy of these.
Formatting Documents and Images to Upload
Dispute evidence is often transmitted through several legacy systems and most card issuers are still utilizing paper faxing. Before sending your response, ensure that any text or images are clear and large enough to show up clearly in a black and white fax transmission.
While you can zoom in on your electronic documents, the card issuer will not be able to do so. Any evidence that is too small to transmit clearly won’t be considered by the card issuer, so it’s better to have large, full-page images than try to fit too many on one page.
Whether you upload files through the QorCommerce Merchant Portal or the API, both have limitations on the acceptable file types and the combined file size.
- Only PDF, JPEG, or PNG file types are accepted
- The combined file size can't be more than 5MB
- You can compress your files with tools such as Smallpdf
When submitting documents or images as evidence, use the following recommendations to make sure they can remain legible:
- Use a 11 point font or larger
- Ensure that documents are U.S. Letter or A4 size, in portrait orientation (screenshots can still be added to your documents in landscape orientation)
- Use bold text, callouts, or arrows to draw attention to pertinent information
- Avoid using color highlighting
When uploading screenshots:
- Crop the screenshot to the area of interest and circle any key components (e.g., delivery confirmation or signature)
- Use the text fields in the dispute evidence form to describe what the image contains and how it supports your response
Any illegible text or data that is submitted with a response will be considered incomplete by the card issuer and not reviewed.
You can accept a dispute, effectively agreeing with the cardholder that the dispute was valid for the reason given. Accepting a dispute is not considered an admission of wrongdoing and is sometimes the most appropriate response. The customer has already received their refund via the dispute process - if you agree they should have been refunded, it’s best to accept the dispute. You should always perform this action if you do not intend to respond and submit evidence. Although accepting disputes does not negatively affect your business any further, it should not be seen as an alternative to an effective refund or returns policy. Dispute activity is calculated based upon the disputes received, not won or lost, so dispute prevention is critical.
For disputes that are the result of a misunderstanding, your customer can tell their card issuer that they no longer dispute the transaction. It’s still important that you submit evidence to show that the payment was valid, however, and to ensure that the card issuer knows you are not accepting the dispute.
In cases where you agree that the customer should keep the disputed funds, you should accept the dispute rather than ask the cardholder to withdraw the dispute for a regular refund. Remember, the card networks do not consider how many disputes you win or lose, only how many you receive.
Disputes on Partially Refunded Transactions
While uncommon, a payment can be disputed for the full amount even if a partial refund has already been made (e.g., a refund of a smaller amount that has been agreed upon). We understand this can be frustrating as it leaves you responsible for the partial refund you’ve already processed and the full amount disputed, though card issuers are very willing to rectify this situation.
Even if you plan to accept the un-refunded portion of the dispute, it’s important for you to provide evidence of the partial refund in your response. This should include the amount and date of the refund, and even a screenshot of the refund information from your QorCommerce Merchant Portal (this is known as a “refund” response).
In most cases, the card issuer cancels the original dispute and then creates a separate one for the corrected amount. On QorCommerce, the existing dispute is used to track the overall outcome. If the dispute is fully resolved in your favor, the entire amount is returned to you. If it’s not, only the partially refunded amount is returned. In this case, the dispute’s status is set to lost, and in the QorCommerce Merchant Portal, the dispute is marked as “partially won”.
Updated over 2 years ago