Author: Chargeflow Team
Content Marketing Manager

If you’re an online store owner, payment reversals can be a major source of frustration, affecting your bottom line and creating headaches while chasing down customers to reclaim lost funds. But what exactly is a payment reversal and how do they occur? 

Learning more about this phenomenon is essential to avoid these costly problems in the future. In this blog post, we'll talk through what causes payment reversals, how they differ from chargebacks or refunds, and practical strategies for mitigating their impact on your business success.

What are Payment Reversals?

A payment reversal is a transaction initiated by the cardholder to cancel or reverse a payment that has already been completed. This transaction occurs when the customer contacts their bank and requests for the charge to be reversed: either temporarily, depending on their circumstances, or permanently. 

A payment reversal is distinct from a refund which works similarly but is instead requested by the merchant side and returned to the customer in full. The effect of a payment reversal is an immediate reduction in the merchant's net income, while refunds can take several days or weeks to process and post. Thus, reversals are often used in emergencies where time is of the essence.

Types of Payment Reversals

1. Authorization Reversals

Authorization reversals happen when a payment transaction is authorized but not settled. This can occur if a customer cancels an order or if the payment processor declines the payment due to insufficient funds or other reasons. 

In this case, the authorization hold on the customer's account is released, and the funds are made available again. Authorization reversals typically happen within a few days, depending on the payment processor's policies.

2. Transaction Reversals

Transaction reversals occur when a payment transaction is completed, but the payment is later canceled or refunded. This can happen if the customer is not satisfied with the product or service they received, or if there is an issue with the payment processing system. 

In this case, the payment is reversed, and the funds are returned to the customer's account. Transaction reversals can take several days to complete, depending on the payment processor's policies.

3. Settlement Reversals

Settlement reversals happen when a payment transaction is settled, but the payment is later canceled or refunded. This can occur if the payment processor detects fraud or if the customer disputes the transaction. 

In this case, the payment is reversed, and the funds are returned to the customer's account. Settlement reversals can take several days to complete, depending on the payment processor's policies.

The Difference between These Types

The main difference between these types of payment reversals is the stage at which the reversal occurs. Authorization reversals occur before the payment is settled, transaction reversals occur after the payment is settled, and settlement reversals occur after the payment is settled and the funds have been transferred to the merchant's account.

Additionally, the reasons for the reversals can vary. Authorization reversals usually occur due to customer cancellations or payment processing errors, while transaction and settlement reversals can happen due to customer disputes, fraud, or technical errors in the payment processing system.

Why do Payment Reversals Occur?

Payment reversals are a common yet troublesome occurrence in the financial realm. There are multiple reasons why these unfortunate events can transpire, so it's important to have an understanding of what causes them. 

The most common reasons for payment reversals include insufficient funds, canceled orders, merchant errors, chargebacks, authorization issues, and scams. Insufficient funds can cause a payment reversal if the customer doesn't have enough money in their account when they try to make a purchase. 

Conversely, canceled orders can also lead to reversals if the buyer changes their mind before the transaction is complete but after funds have been withdrawn from the account. Merchant errors can result in payment issues as well; for example, a mistake may occur which prevents an account from properly being charged or credited. 

Additionally, chargebacks arise when customers initiate refunds due to dissatisfaction with the order. Authorization issues usually result from a miscommunication between two entities that agree to a financial transaction online and cannot be fulfilled because of wrongly authorized payments. 

Lastly, scams beget payment reversals; an individual has intentionally tricked one another out of money and must undo the fraudulent transaction as soon as possible. These are just some of the motives conducive to payment reversals. 

It’s essential to differentiate between every type of predicament that may lead up to one to create avoidable solutions and investments into protection against them in the future should they occur again despite preventative measures taken priorly.

How to Avoid Payment Reversals?

Payment reversals can be frustrating for both businesses and customers. Fortunately, there are actionable tips you can follow to help avoid payment reversals and maintain a positive relationship with your customers. Here are some key tips to keep in mind:

1. Double-check all payment details before submitting

When you're processing a payment, take the time to double-check all of the details to ensure they are accurate. This includes the amount being charged, the payment method being used, and any other relevant information.

2. Use a secure payment method

To help minimize the risk of payment reversals, make sure you're using a secure payment method. This can include reputable payment processors, such as PayPal or Stripe, that offer built-in fraud protection and chargeback prevention.

3. Provide excellent customer service

By providing excellent customer service, you can help reduce the likelihood of payment disputes and chargebacks. This includes responding quickly to customer inquiries and complaints, being transparent about your policies and procedures, and offering refunds or exchanges when appropriate.

4. Resolve disputes quickly and fairly

If a customer does dispute a payment or file a chargeback, it's important to handle the situation quickly and fairly. This can include providing evidence to support your case, communicating with the customer to understand their concerns, and working to find a mutually agreeable solution.

By following these tips, you can help minimize the risk of payment reversals and maintain a positive relationship with your customers. Remember, providing excellent customer service and being proactive about payment security can go a long way in preventing payment disputes and maintaining customer trust.

Difference between Payment Reversals and Chargebacks

Payment reversals and chargebacks represent two distinct forms of payment disputes. A payment reversal occurs when a transaction is canceled and the funds are returned to the sender; it is typically initiated by the merchant or payment processor due to insufficient funds, payment fraud, or other issues. 

Conversely, a chargeback is a dispute filed directly by a consumer, often in response to an unsatisfactory product or service. The similarities between the two types of disputes are that they both involve withdrawing funds from an account and reversing payment processing transactions; however, the process through which they are carried out differs significantly.

 Payment reversals are typically initiated by businesses and involve an automatic transfer of funds back to the original payer through their debit card or bank account while chargebacks typically require manual intervention to be settled with most banks or credit card companies following specific regulations. Understanding both types of disputes and how they are processed can help merchants manage their risk accordingly.

What to do if a Payment Reversal Occurs

If a payment reversal occurs, it's important to take immediate action to address the issue and minimize any potential negative impact on your business. Here are some steps you can take to handle a payment reversal:

1. Contact the customer to resolve the issue

If you receive a notification of a payment reversal, the first step is to contact the customer to understand the reason for the reversal. This can help you identify any potential issues with your product or service, and work to resolve the issue directly with the customer.

2. Review the payment details

Take a close look at the payment details to understand why the payment was reversed. It could be due to an incorrect or disputed charge, fraud, or other reasons.

3. Appeal the reversal with the payment processor or bank

If you believe the reversal was made in error, you may be able to appeal the decision with your payment processor or bank. This can involve providing evidence or documentation to support your case, such as a copy of the customer's purchase confirmation or evidence of delivery.

4. Take steps to prevent future reversals

To minimize the risk of future payment reversals, make sure you're following best practices for payment security and fraud prevention. This can include using a secure payment processor, verifying customer information, and implementing policies and procedures for handling disputed payments.

Final Thoughts on Payment Reversal

Payment reversals are unfortunately a common occurrence in eCommerce, but there are steps you can take to prevent them. By understanding what they are, why they happen, and how to avoid them, you can minimize the chances of a payment reversal occurring in your store. 

If a payment reversal does occur, don't panic! Chargeflow has autopilot solutions that will help you prevent chargebacks and fight disputes. Check out our website to learn more about how we can help you reduce payment reversals on your eCommerce store.


What is a chargeback reversal?

A chargeback reversal refers to the process of reversing a transaction that was previously disputed and resulted in a chargeback. In simpler terms, it is the reversal of a refund that was initiated by a customer after they disputed a transaction with their bank or credit card company.

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