Friday, September 18, 2009

Don’t Let Excessive Chargebacks Deplete Your Business

Chargebacks, which occur when a customer disputes a charge made to their credit or debit card and asks the card company to reverse the transaction. If you, as an internet merchant, have never experienced a chargeback on a purchase, you can be certain that it eventually will happen.

While chargebacks are practically inevitable, and many merchants view the fees as part of the cost of doing business, excessive chargebacks can put a real dent in your profits, not to mention your good standing with your credit card company. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce their occurrence.

First, provide excellent customer service. Naturally, you want to do this anyway because it’s just good business. But good communication with your customers can go a long way toward minimizing chargebacks. Provide a contact phone number or email, and respond quickly to resolve any issues.

Describe your items or services with accurate details. Your customers should know exactly what they are getting, and when they can expect delivery. When possible, use tracking numbers and signature confirmation when shipping packages, and consider buying postal insurance so you are covered if a package is lost or damaged in the mail.

Most customers only request a reversal when they have a legitimate reason. Some buyers, however, ask for chargebacks fraudulently by making false claims. This happens more with higher priced items. Be alert for purchases where the billing and shipping address are from different countries, or the customer makes partial payments using different Paypal or credit card accounts.

Avoid accepting fraudulent purchases by asking for the code on the back of the card, confirming the billing address with the customer if the billing and shipping addresses do not match, and calling the card holder personally to confirm any orders that seem suspicious for any reason. Rather than being annoyed by the call, most customers will usually appreciate your taking the extra step for security’s sake.

If you accept credit cards at the location of the sale, you have the added opportunity to look at the signature on the receipt and compare it with the one on the card. Check for signs that the card has been tampered with or altered. You can also ask for a driver’s license or other photo ID.

The importance of minimizing chargebacks cannot be overemphasized. Most merchant account providers view any business that has excessive chargebacks as a risk, and will not hesitate to terminate the relationship if your account becomes too much of a liability to them. This can have a serious impact on your sales if customers are unable to make credit card purchases from you while you scramble to find a service provider who will accept your business.

The time and effort you put into reducing chargebacks will be well spent and can only serve to enhance your reputation as a seller.

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