Disputes, also known as Chargebacks, have seen an increase within the delivered fuel space and pose a potential threat to fuel marketers this heating season.
A dispute is when a customer contacts their credit card company or bank after a purchase is made requesting a refund for the goods or services purchased using their card. Compared to other industries, Fuel Marketers don’t tend to see a lot of customer disputes. Typically, if there is a problem with a delivery or service, the marketer resolves any concerns and makes it right with the customer. However, in the past couple of months we have seen an increase in customers disputing directly to the card brands and not the marketer themselves. This removes the ability of the marketer to rectify the situation before it turns into a chargeback. The increase in disputes appears to be attributable to average delivery costs almost doubling, leaving customers unaware of the cost or simply unable to afford it.
Let’s take a look at the five largest reasons for disputes and how to respond for the best chance of winning.
1. Fraud – When the cardholder claims that they do not recognize a transaction, nor did they participate or provide permission for the transaction to be charged to their account.
2. Merchandise or Services Not Received – When the cardholder acknowledges participation in the transaction and claims that they did not receive the expected or agreed upon merchandise or services. This category also includes scenarios where the cardholder claims that they canceled the services or merchandise and were still billed.
3. Canceled Recurring – It may be used to inform you that a cardholder is canceling their recurring billing payments. Unfortunately, the cardholder may not have contacted you directly.
4. Credit Not Processed – When the cardholder asserts that they were promised a credit or services and merchandise have been canceled. The cardholder may be attempting to solicit a refund from you or return merchandise and expect a refund.
5. Defective/Not as Described – Utilized for various scenarios in which the cardholder acknowledges participation in the transaction and is not satisfied with the service or merchandise received due to the quality, defective components, or not as described.
As you build your understanding of the dispute reasons, you can form your business strategy to respond. Providing a timely response to disputes can help you to attempt to recover disputed funds. With this in mind, best practice is to respond to a dispute if you are within the time frame and have:
- Issued a credit to the cardholder (never issue a credit once the dispute has been initiated/received, the cardholder has already received credit from the dispute).
- Proof that the cardholder participated in or benefited from the transaction.
- Proof that the cardholder is no longer disputing the transaction and the issue has been resolved.
- Proof that the cardholder is disputing the charge to fraudulently benefit from denying knowledge of the transaction.
Once you have concluded that you would like to respond to the dispute, the first thing to do is to reach out to the customer. Afterall, it could be a simple misunderstanding, so politely let them know you received a chargeback and ask if you can resolve the dispute. In some cases, it could be a double payment or they forgot they actually received the delivery and it’s a quick resolve.
In the event that the Dispute is not able to be resolved the following steps could provide proof of a transaction.
- The original order info notification if the order was performed online (including IP address and time stamp, if available)
- Screenshots of your companies sign up/order process to show the acknowledgements, etc.
- Terms and conditions on your website that the customer agreed to while placing their order
- Route ticket with time stamp of delivery.
- Receipt with date and time.
- Any receipt or notification that was sent to the customer when delivery was made IE: receipt, invoice, text, email door hanger, etc.
- Any communication with the customer when dispute was first received (if applicable)
- A quick write up on the timing of order and dispute.
All disputes are different and the dispute process is a 50/50 chance with no guaranteed outcome, but the best way to fight a chargeback is to react immediately and have a process in place to gather the correct documentation. — Marci Gagnon
Marci Gagnon is the Vice President of Strategic Alliances for Qualpay and has been in the payments industry for over 15 years with a concentration on recurring billing and the Energy space. Qualpay provides processing solutions to fuel delivery and service businesses with tools designed to provide real-time reconciliation and cost reduction. For additional information contact Marci Gagnon at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://www.qualpay.com/industry/utility-and-energy.