How Recurring Transactions End Up as Chargebacks
A recurring transaction is a charge for services or goods that is applied to a cardholder’s credit or debit card multiple times at regular intervals (usually one month).
Merchants who sell beauty products or health care products online almost always have a system that automatically signs up new customers to their monthly subscription plan. And, if the merchant is running an aggressive marketing campaign then it is likely they will be faced with many angry calls to customer service and potential chargebacks. These types of eCommerce sites generate more card-not-present transaction disputes, chargebacks and online fraud cases than what is experienced by eCommerce sites without recurring transactions.
Here are a few common complaints to customer service overrecurring transactions:
- Purchase not authorized: When a customer isn’t aware they signed up for additional shipments or services with their first online order—often because they didn’t read the “fine print” or sometimes because the conditions of special offers were inconspicuous—and are suddenly surprised when added charges start showing up on their credit card or bank statements.
- Subscription cancelled: A subscription was cancelled and product was returned during the cancellation period; however, shipments keep coming.
- Recurring transaction cancelled: Cardholder contacted merchant to stop recurring transactions, but they are still receiving shipments and being charged.
- Prior approval needed: Merchant was supposed to inform the cardholder before processing a transaction, but failed to do so.
- Permission revoked: Cardholder revoked permission for future charges to their account, yet another charge showed up.
For high-risk, high-volume merchants with recurring transactions, avoiding chargebacks is a continual customer support issue. Customers are quick to complain to the merchant when they find unexplained or unexpected charges to their credit cards or deductions from their bank accounts. Sometimes they bypass the merchant entirely and go directly to their credit card company or bank for resolution.However,these simple steps can help prevent many complaints or disputes from becoming chargebacks:
- When appropriate, cheerfully and promptly arrange for a refund when contacted directly by a customer.
- Don’t argue with a customer; find a solution that makes both parties happy.
- Unless you suspect fraud, accept a customer’s word that they asked to cancel their subscription when no record can be found to support their claim. A cardholder doesn’t have to supply proof of their cancellation notice when filing a chargeback.
- Respond to pending chargebacks within required time limits and supply all necessary supporting documents. With proper documentation a merchant has more than a fair chance of winning the case. And, make refunds to customers whose claims you find valid.