Tom-Chris Emewulu
Chargeflow's Digital Evangelist
Table of contents

eCommerce chargeback mediation process is unquestionably complicated. And if you make these rookie mistakes when fighting chargebacks, you're shooting yourself in the foot.

It's been said that the recent sudden spike in online payments has increased credit card fraud. Case in point, analysts project that 66 billion transactions in the United States will generate 33 million disputes this year.

Yet, a customer dispute is not a full-stop revenue loss. When a customer disputes a transaction and files a chargeback, it does not mean an immediate game is over. You, the merchant, have the opportunity to fight the dispute -- and if you do your job well, you can win.

Here's the kicker, though. Fighting a chargeback and winning requires that you participate in a series of definite steps established by the card networks and banks. When a card dispute arises, these entities act as mediators between the customer and the merchant. Not following their prescribed methodology for chargeback mediation is one major reason merchants don't win chargebacks.

This article outlines the most common mistakes merchants make when fighting chargebacks and how to avoid them.

How Often do Merchant Wins Chargeback Disputes?

By and large, most merchants who contest chargebacks do so with ONLY a 22 percent chance of winning. And the low win rate can be attributed to several factors -- most notably merchant errors. Resolving these mistakes and implementing requisite chargeback mediation best practices will give you better prospects.

6 Mistakes to Avoid as a Merchant

Mistake #1: Poor Knowledge of chargeback reason codes

Every chargeback has a reason code: a set of numerics established by the card networks to help merchants understand why the chargeback happened.

To win a chargeback dispute, the first thing you should do is get familiar with the various chargeback reason codes. That way, you're ready to respond to any dispute with the required set of compelling evidence. And you can do so more efficiently and resolve (or win) the dispute within the given dispute time limit. Fighting a chargeback without getting familiar with the reason code is like fighting a losing battle.

Below are some of the most popular reason codes you should know:

4 Common Chargeback Reason Codes
common chargeback reason codes

Mistake #2: Not responding to chargeback disputes

Take a look at these numbers:

A recent Digital Payments survey found that 70% of participating merchants have entered a fraud or dispute monitoring program in the past 12 months. And 60% of the survey respondents dispute only some chargebacks, 33% dispute all chargebacks, and 5% don’t dispute any chargeback at all.

These numbers clearly show that disputes and chargebacks are still a significant headache for businesses. Yet so many companies let chargebacks go undisputed.


Well, for starters, some merchants believe that chargeback is a cost of doing business. Most of the survey respondents cited the inability to win enough representments as the basis for their decision to let chargebacks slip through the cracks.

Next to the uphill battle of chargeback representment posing as a deterrent to fighting back, the survey respondents cited not having enough resources (i.e., time, information, personnel) to engage in chargeback representment.

As understandable as those excuses are, we recommend that you should definitely respond to every chargeback. And fight to recover as much revenue as possible. Doing nothing means 100% loss of every chargeback case. But not just that, not responding to chargebacks also opens the flood gate to more chargeback cases.

Mistake #3: Late Representment

The underlying principle behind chargeback representment is that you're literally “re-presenting” a transaction to the bank in the event of a chargeback. And you're doing that with sufficient evidence that legitimizes the said transaction.

In that sense, you have about 7-10 days to respond to the request. And a late representment can throw you for a loop; it's as good as not responding at all.

The problem is, if you didn't know when a customer filed a dispute, it'd be impossible to act quickly. And sometimes, evidence gathering can also pose a significant challenge for merchants that don't have tools like ChargeSync by Chargeflow to extract the relevant documents at the right time. You end up chasing your tail without an adequate paper trail to show that, indeed, the chargeback is meritless and the deduction unnecessary.

Mistake #4: Failure to provide compelling evidence

It bears repeating, you can't fight a chargeback successfully without compelling evidence refuting the customer's claim. Yet, the type of evidence you present will depend entirely on the substance of the claim. There is no one-size-fits-all evidence structure.

That said, the most typical and relevant evidence you need to fight chargebacks include the following:

  • Transaction data such as date and timestamp
  • AVS, CVV, and order delivery verification document
  • The customer’s transaction history (particularly undisputed transactions)
  • Customer communications from relevant platforms
  • Signed order delivery receipts
  • Other crucial documentation related to the order under dispute

Failure to provide compelling evidence is proof-positive to the cardholder's claim, and the chargeback will stand. While you can appeal the case by requesting arbitration from the card network, it's rarely easy to win arbitration chargebacks.

Chargeflow helps you stay on top of disputes and chargebacks
Chargeflow helps you stay on top of disputes and chargebacks

Mistake #5: Unclear representment

You should know that the acquirer reviews thousands of cases and decides which case warrants attention from the issuer.

If your case doesn’t advance to the issuer for decision, you stand no chance of winning the transaction dispute. Hence, cutting out unnecessary details will help make your response easy to check.  

Ideally, when submitting documents or images as evidence, you should use the following guide to ensure they can remain readable:

  • Use a 12 point font or larger
  • 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

The general rule of thumb is to do everything you can to make your response easy to review and forward to the issuer. And in that order, we underscore the following good-to-know points:

  • Stick to the acquirer’s response submission preferences.
  • Do send your response in the preferred file type; i.e .doc, .pdf, etc.
  • Follow the required submission procedures, e.g., email, fax.
  • Ensure your rebuttal letter can easily highlight the most compelling pieces of information relevant to the case.
  • Include all needed documents and evidence.

Do these, and your chances of success will swing high.

Mistake #6: Handling chargebacks in-house

We noted earlier that every chargeback involves specific action at every stage of the process. The progression is unbelievably nonlinear, and there are strict timelines you must observe. The requirements often vary by bank or card network involved, complicating things further.

If that's not enough, each chargeback involves multiple vital players (i.e., the cardholder, the issuer, the acquirer, the card brands). Hence, fighting chargebacks is time-consuming and diverts resources from a merchant's core business. And as most merchants don't have the specialized knowledge necessary to keep up to speed with the ever-evolving rules for chargeback mediation, their efforts often yield little results.

To circumvent this, most merchants outsource chargeback mediation to third-party vendors who specialize in chargeback prevention and management. By all standards, outsourcing chargeback mediation yields the highest return on investment. It helps you lower vulnerability, be more efficient, and improve your profit margins without the chargeback management headaches.

Yet, outsourcing your chargeback mediation to specialist handlers has its limits. Many have found that the actual game changer is to let technology do the work. Automating the entire dispute process as part of your framework and not an extension of service deliverable by external vendors is how you level up big time. The merits in this wise are overwhelming because you will have control over everything and still recover disputes without lifting a finger.

Learn more about chargeback automation and how you can recover 2x more revenue here.


How can I gather evidence to support my case in a chargeback dispute?

Evidence can include transaction receipts, shipping records, customer communication logs, and any other documentation that supports the validity of the transaction.

What are the fees associated with chargebacks and representments?

Fees vary by processor and acquiring bank but can include chargeback fees, representment fees, and chargeback representment fees.

Can I use chargeback analytics to improve my chargeback management strategy?

Yes, chargeback analytics can provide valuable insights into the root causes of chargebacks and help you develop a more effective chargeback management strategy.

How can I communicate effectively with customers to reduce the risk of chargebacks?

Effective communication with customers can include proactively reaching out to address any issues, providing clear and timely updates on order status, and addressing any concerns or complaints in a prompt and professional manner.

Average Dispute Amount
Average Dispute Amount
# Disputes Per Month
# Disputes Per Month
Time Spent Per Dispute
Time Spent Per Dispute
You could recover
$500,000 and save
1,000 hours every month with Chargeflow!
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