Chargeback Reason Code

American Express Chargeback Reason Code C31: Goods/Services Not as Described

General Information about Reason Codes

In 2016, Mastercard chargeback reason codes were condensed and consolidated, in a restructuring that resembled Visa Claims Resolution. Prior to this, Mastercardā€™s list of reason codes was long, convoluted, and confusing; now there are fewer than ten different reason codes relevant to most merchants. All the old reasons are still there, but theyā€™ve been grouped under more comprehensive ā€œumbrellaā€ codes.

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American Express Chargeback Reason Code C31: Goods/Services Not as Described

What is American Express Chargeback Reason Code C31?

The American Express chargeback reason code C31 indicates cardholder disputes involving goods and services that differ from the original description. That means the cardholder has submitted claims to American Express that the goods and services received did not match your description. The difference could apply to your written or verbal description at the time of purchase.

Chargebacks under this code can occur for online and offline purchases. Even telephone orders can lead to these chargebacks, especially where the verbal description is unclear to the buyer. Although American Express does its best to investigate cardholder claims, you might still get chargebacks of this nature.

Fortunately, youā€™ll have enough time to respond and provide counter-evidence to the cardholderā€™s claims. Telephone orders may be tricky to counter unless the cardholder agrees to a record of the conversation at the time of purchase.

Weā€™ve most likely had the experience of receiving a product that looked different from what was advertised. Product images and descriptions often describe the ideal product. We may not get an inferior item, but it might not match (100%) the standard of the images.

The cardholder should contact you if they notice differences between the delivered products and the description. That should be enough to clear any disputes without necessitating a chargeback. However, your slow response to rectify the issue or provide a replacement will put you up for a chargeback.

You should strive to provide accurate descriptions and deliver products and services as described. Errors on your end could cause business sanctions beyond chargebacks.

Weā€™ll guide you on how to fight chargebacks under reason code C31. The process is more straightforward once you identify the cause. Fortunately, American Express may explain why they processed the chargeback in their dispute description.

Why Did It Happen?

Chargebacks with reason code C31 occur when a cardholder claims the products or services received did not match their descriptions. With compelling evidence, the cardholder can get American Express to process the chargeback pending your response. If no response is received, the chargeback will stand.

Besides item descriptions, chargebacks of this nature can also occur if promises are made but not fulfilled.

The following are the top reasons for chargebacks with reason code C31:

  • The goods or services did not match what was described: The difference could be in specifications or looks. Even a minor difference, like color, can cause disputes with the cardholder if they ask for a specific color.

Written descriptions and images are easy to compare with the delivered product or service. Nevertheless, even telephone orders are subject to chargebacks under this code if disputes occur.

  • The goods or services did not match what was agreed upon at the time of purchase: Although this is similar to the product description, we have to differentiate the two scenarios. You may have agreed to modify the product specifications in the description. Failing to do that may cause the cardholder to approach American Express for a chargeback.
  • The products and services delivered were of inferior quality to what was described: Your product description and verbal confirmation can give the cardholder a sense of the quality to expect. The cardholder may dispute the sale if the delivered items donā€™t match the expected quality.
  • You agreed to refund the cardholder or replace the product but did not do it: Agreeing to a refund or replacement does not prevent you from incurring chargebacks. Failing to deliver as promised within the timeframe can still cause chargebacks.

Friendly Fraud

The subjective nature of chargebacks under reason code C31 makes them susceptible to friendly fraud. Some cardholders may want to score free purchases by claiming your product or service does not match the description. This can happen in telephone orders where you donā€™t have ready proof to counter the cardholderā€™s claims.

Notwithstanding, some cardholders may do so unknowingly. They may have agreed to changes but forgot about them when receiving the item or service.


How to Fight American Express Chargeback Reason Code C31: Goods/Services Not as Described

American Express has a well-outlined approach for merchants to fight chargebacks under this reason code.Ā 

For items and services where the cardholder claims they do not match your description, here is what to do:

  • Submit evidence to show that the items delivered match the written description. You can include the product description page and the product shipped out (photographs).
  • Submit evidence to show that the items match the stated quality. Certifications can help in this case. If there is none, address each point the buyer raises concerning the quality of your product to American Express.
  • Submit proof that you reached an agreement outside the product description for the delivered products. Emails can suffice.
  • Provide proof that you processed a credit to offset the disputed charge. Include the amount and date and explain any difference that may occur. If your return policy does not allow for a full refund, state it in your response.

If the dispute involves damaged or defective products or services, use the following approach:

  • Submit evidence of your attempts to repair or replace the defective or damaged products.
  • Submit evidence that the cardholder violated your cancellation and return policies, resulting in no refund. If other laws and regulations apply, state them in your response.
  • Provide proof that the cardholder agreed to the productā€™s condition as delivered, even though it was defective or damaged.

If the dispute involves installment payments and bill payment provider transactions, use the following approach:

  • Provide a copy of the terms and conditions the cardholder agreed to and show the non-compliance.

How to Prevent American Express Chargeback Reason Code C31: Goods/Services Not as Described

Do the following to prevent chargebacks with reason code C31:

  • Ensure your shipped products or services match the description the buyer agreed to.Ā 
  • Include clear instructions on what the cardholder should do if the items or services donā€™t match the stated description.
  • Provide detailed descriptions of your products or services on the payment invoices. You should also include them in online order receipts and contracts.
  • Promptly attend to any dissatisfaction from your buyers.Ā 
  • Process a credit or replacement quickly. Inform the buyer of the expected date of payment or replacement. If delays are likely to occur, let the buyer know.


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