Dan Moshkovich
VP Marketing
Table of contents

Chargebacks can occur regardless of how careful we are in our business operations. We’ve seen friendly fraud and cyber-shoplifting, which force merchants to defend the transaction. While preventing chargebacks is essential, you must be well-equipped to fight one when it comes your way.

Reviewing chargeback reason codes will point you in the right direction to dispute the chargebacks. They show why the issuer processed a chargeback and the best evidence you need to dispute it. With that information, you can present thorough proof that you followed due process and that the transaction was legitimate.

Compelling evidence can be documents, photos, videos, etc., that prove the transaction’s legitimacy to reverse a chargeback. This brief guide will show you examples of compelling evidence in specific cases and how to use them effectively.

Understanding Chargeback Reason Codes

Transaction disputes ensue when cardholders dispute the payment. It could be that they deny authorizing the transaction or that the amount differs from what they authorized. Sometimes, the card member can deny receiving the merchandise, demanding a refund, which the issuer promptly provides through a chargeback.

Issuers can detect discrepancies and process a chargeback on a transaction. For example, submitting the wrong amount for final processing.

All chargebacks will have a reason code. These unique alphanumeric codes show why the issuer processed the chargeback. For example, Mastercard uses the chargeback reason code 4842 when a merchant presents a transaction outside the allocated time.

From the codes, you can trace the error. Let’s review the previous example on Mastercard chargeback reason code 4842. The next step after seeing this code will be to check the time you submitted your presentment and compare it with Mastercard’s allocated time.

You can easily dispute the chargeback once you prove your submission was on time. You will not know why the issuer processed the chargeback if the reason is unavailable. Hence, you must pay attention and gather evidence based on the points raised.

One good thing is that you can always ask the issuer to clarify unclear aspects in the chargeback message. This step can be essential in tailoring your compelling evidence.

Let’s review a few prominent chargeback reason codes and what they mean.

Typical Chargeback Reason Codes

Issuers have unique codes for the same reason. For example, Visa will use a different code when no authorization occurs, while Mastercard will use its unique code.

With that in mind, here are a few reason codes:

Visa Chargeback Reason Code 11.3

This reason code indicates that the transaction was not properly authorized. It means the issuer did not receive an authorization request, but the transaction was successful. A chargeback will be processed to refund the cardholder since the payment was not approved on time.

Cardholders often initiate transaction disputes that result in chargebacks under this reason code. Faulty terminals may force transactions without authorization, or some merchants may use offline authorization codes. While merchant error is a possible cause, cardholders can file false claims.

Discover Network Chargeback Reason Code NM

The NM chargeback reason code shows that the cardholder complained of not receiving the merchandise despite paying for it. Discover Network uses it to show that you did not keep your end of the bargain in a transaction. The complaint might be true, false, or misunderstood.

With this reason code, you can quickly track the goods to know if the card member received them. The next step would be assembling documents to show that you delivered as agreed.

American Express Chargeback Reason Code C05

You’ll receive a chargeback under this reason code if the cardholder disputes the charge amount. It means you processed a different amount than the cardholder agreed to pay. This claim can be false or misunderstood.

An example would be recurring billing, where changes in exchange rates force an increase in the charge. A cardholder can quickly dispute the transaction as higher than the expected amount.

General Guidelines for Compiling Compelling Evidence

We’ve seen a few reason codes and how they can help you assemble evidence. The key is tracing why they occur and reviewing the transaction details.

Communication between you and the cardholder can act as compelling evidence. For example, a screenshot or email of a cardholder withdrawing the dispute or agreeing to an alternative resolution can help reverse a chargeback.

The key elements for compelling evidence are as follows:

  • Transaction records, including receipts, invoices, delivery notes, ATM logbooks, etc.
  • Communications, including chats, emails, written notes (signed), etc
  • Other relevant documents like authorization approval, offline authorization code, etc

You can’t gather the needed evidence to dispute a chargeback without detailed documentation and record-keeping. For example, not keeping copies of receipts can be detrimental if a cardholder disputes a transaction. You won’t find a receipt to prove that the cardholder agreed to pay that amount.

Tailoring Evidence to Specific Reason Codes

Here are a few chargebacks and how you can tailor your compelling evidence:

Unauthorized Transaction

Your proof must show that the original cardholder approved the transaction. Hence, you will draw up documentation to prove the following:

  • Proof of identity verification: You can include your AVS verification. Your request for one-time passwords can also suffice.
  • IP matching: Show that the order came from an IP address that matches previous orders from the customer. That means presenting previous undisputed transactions from the same IP.
  • Customer interaction logs: These documents contain phone calls, emails, chats, etc., between you and the cardholder. They can reveal and authenticate the transaction.

Merchandise Not Received

This case is easy to dispute. Review and submit the following documents:

  • Shipping confirmation to show that the merchandise left your warehouse en route to the cardholder
  • Delivery receipts where the cardholder signed after accepting the merchandise
  • Tracking details to show that you delivered the products to the authorized location
  • Cardholder communication that confirms the receipt of the merchandise

Defective or Not as Described

Prepare and submit the following compelling evidence:

  • The checkout page showing the product description, photos, videos, and other specifications. This page must contain the cardholder’s signature or approval of the information. You can use a receipt or invoice for in-store purchases.
  • Photos of the product delivered to prove that the product is the same as the one described on the checkout page or receipt
  • Copies of your return policy where the cardholder agreed to the terms and conditions. Then, compare photos that show the cardholder’s violations of the policy.

Credit Not Processed

Transaction details can suffice as primary, compelling evidence. Hence, you can present the following:

  • Transaction details that prove you processed the refund (the document should include the date, amount, and time)
  • A copy of your refund policy
  • A copy of your communication with the cardholder showing they received the refund.

Best Practices for Managing Chargeback Disputes

The best approach is to prevent chargeback disputes. Proactive communication will satisfy most cardholders and prevent them from escalating disputes with their issuers. You can do the following to communicate effectively:

  • Provide a clear communication line; chat, phone calls, emails, etc.
  • Respond promptly to customer complaints.
  • Provide refunds when promised.
  • Inform cardholders of any delays.

Some chargebacks will get through even after adopting the above practices. Hence, we recommend the following to manage them effectively:

  • Improve your evidence-collection process to be faster and more tailored.
  • Regularly review and update your return and refund policies.
  • Set reminders and respond promptly to chargebacks.
  • Include communication attempts with cardholders when preparing your reply.


Compelling evidence shows the issuer that your transactions are legitimate. Besides helping you reverse chargebacks, these pieces of evidence can help your business reputation. Besides aiding in reversing chargebacks, presenting thorough proof helps reinforce your business's reputation by showing adherence to industry best practices. Maintaining open communication lines with your issuer, acquirer, and customers is crucial for timely and effective chargeback management. By staying calm and organized while collecting evidence, you enhance your chances of a favorable resolution.

Ensure your business is prepared to handle chargebacks effectively with the right tools and knowledge—discover how Chargeflow can help you streamline the process.


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