Responding to “Merchandise Not as Described” Chargeback Claims

Responding to “Merchandise Not as Described” Chargeback Claims

Taking orders online and shipping the orders to customers might sound simple, but there are challenges. Customers expect products they receive to look exactly like the website pictures, match the descriptions provided on the website and to function accordingly. Descriptive information should be clearly written so that there is no room for interpretation and any discrepancies between a photo and the actual product should be noted. Additionally, it should be easy for customers to find the website’s Terms and Conditions, and return, exchange and cancellation policies should be written in layman’s terms.

When customers believe they have been misled the end result can be a transaction dispute claiming “merchandise not as described.”

A card issuer asks only one thing from a customer when they request a refund claiming the merchandise received was not as described: verbal confirmation that they attempted to resolve the issue with the merchant. If the customer answers “yes” then a chargeback is filed with the official reason being “merchandise not as described.”

Merchants are notified each time a chargeback is filed and each notification includes a reason code specific to the card brand network.  Forexample, Visa uses Reason Code 53 and MasterCard uses Reason Code 4853 to identify “merchandise not as described”chargebacks. These codes tell the merchant what the requirements are to present proof that the claim is invalid.

Along with letting card issuers know if they were not previously contacted by the customer, merchants need to make available the following documentation to fight chargebacks for “merchandise not as described” claims:

Merchandise received or service cancelled and transaction processed: copies of communications and payment details.

Merchandise delivered was as described: printed copy of the website description and invoice details to prove the claim is invalid.

Merchandise delivered before cancellation:copies of detailed documentsthat include the order date, dispatching date, product details and date of cancellation to show that the customer did cancel the order, but the cancellation was requested after the order was shipped and the merchandise has not yet been returned by the customer.

Merchandise not returned and services not cancelled:  in this instance there is no paper trail to follow, so the merchant should inform the card issuer that it has no record of any communication from the customer with regard to returning merchandise or a cancellation request.

Merchandise returned and damaged: copies of documents showing that the merchandise was replaced or repaired, which might include details of communications with the customer and a description of the exact repairs that were made.

Effective chargeback handling requires trained staff members who deal specifically with chargeback cases, and having an in-house chargeback department may not be feasible for all eCommerce businesses. For those who would rather avoid the hassles of having in-house staff to deal with chargebacks, there are companies like

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