Chargeback Reason Code

Discover Chargeback Reason Code AW: Altered Amount

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, Mastercard’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 they’ve been grouped under more comprehensive “umbrella” codes.

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Discover Chargeback Reason Code AW: Altered Amount

What is Discover Chargeback Reason Code AW?

The Discover chargeback reason code means that you submitted a different transaction amount for authorization than the one posted. It falls under the “cardholder disputes” category with the shorthand description “Altered amount.” The cardholder believes the final amount charged from their account differs from what they received.

Errors that cause chargebacks under this code can occur in ATM transactions or online sales. Cash advances are also susceptible to the chargeback reason code AW; however, cash advances cause these chargebacks more frequently than other reasons.

We expect cardholders to contact you directly when they notice any disparities in the amount processed and what they got or paid for. However, this might only sometimes be the case. Some may have tried to contact you but couldn't get through.

The Discover dispute system allows you to monitor cardholder disputes and respond accordingly. You can see when cases were opened, their latest updates, and their due dates. Monitoring this system can help you see and resolve disputes quickly before they escalate to chargebacks.

It is possible to alter a transaction amount (deliberately or mistakenly) during processing and complete processing for a different amount. Minor and significant changes to the amounts can cause cardholders to dispute the transaction with their issuers.

A quick response on the Discover dispute system is the best prevention against chargebacks with the reason code AW. We’ll look at other ways to prevent them. In the meantime, let’s address the most likely causes of chargebacks involving altered amounts in business operations.

Why Did It Happen?

Chargebacks under the reason code AW occur when significant changes occur between the amount posted and the amount processed for a transaction. For the cardholder, the final charge on their account statement differs from what they agreed to when authorizing the transaction. Some cardholders may view such occurrences as fraudulent, placing your business at risk of sanctions.

In a nutshell, the possible causes include the following:

  • You posted a different transaction amount to the cardholder’s account than what was authorized.
  • Your ATM dispensed a different amount than what the cardholder imputed.
  • You charged a different amount after seeking authorization for another amount.
  • You dispensed a different amount than the cardholder requested in a cash advance.

Any significant changes to a transaction amount require the cardholder’s authorization. You should inform them before processing the new amount with the old authorization.

These changes can relate to fees or flat charges for the transaction. An example is requesting $100 for a transaction but processing $120, including a $20 charge. This addition can cause the cardholder to dispute the transaction and claim that the amount they agreed to was $100, not $120.

If they have sufficient evidence, Discover will escalate it to a cashback, pending when you can refute the claims. You’ll have thirty days to refute the claims and work with your acquirer to reverse the chargeback.

The Special Case of Cash Advances

The Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) industry presents a particular case for cashbacks under reason code AW. It is not regulated like traditional lending institutions. Hence, it presents gaps where it can be challenging to prove whether the correct amount was dispensed to the borrower.

Merchants operating in the MCA are more susceptible to chargebacks involving altered amounts. This could be due to errors or arrangements that are unclear to the borrower. An example is charging a percentage of future sales instead of having a specific amount.

Since no specific amount was specified, the cardholder may dispute the transaction. It then becomes easy to prove that the amount processed and what the cardholder received differ.

Clerical error when entering the cash advance amount is another frequent reason for chargebacks under this reason code. Nevertheless, this error goes both ways.

Cardholders may claim they haven’t received the correct amount in the cash advance transaction. These friendly fraud cases are common in chargebacks with reason code AW.

You can refute the cardholder’s claims and reverse the chargeback with sufficient evidence. The following section will show you how to handle them.


How to Fight Discover Chargeback Reason Code AW: Altered Amount

Your defense against chargebacks involving altered amounts hinges on two things: you processed the correct amount or dispensed the right amount for the cash advance. If you notice errors on your end, you’ll have nothing to hinge your defense on. The best step is to accept the chargeback and take preventive measures to eliminate future occurrences.

Here’s how you can fight chargebacks under reason code AW:

  • You processed the correct amount: Submit evidence that shows the cardholder agreed to that amount. A signed receipt or invoice with the cardholder’s approval can suffice. If there are extra documents that further prove your point, submit them to the card.
  • The extra fees were approved: If extra fees caused the discrepancy, show that the cardholder was aware of and approved of adding the extra fees or charges. Again, a signed receipt or invoice showing the cardholder’s approval will suffice.
  • You dispensed the correct amount for the cash advance: Submit evidence that shows the cardholder received the correct amount processed in the cash advance request. A signed receipt stating the amount the cardholder received can be vital in this case. Also, the document should show the date the cardholder received the cash advance.
  • You processed a credit to offset the difference: if merchant errors caused the chargeback and you processed a credit to offset already, submit the proof. The account statement should include the date and amount of the transaction.

How to Prevent Discover Chargeback Reason Code AW: Altered Amount

Adherence to the procedure for submitting and authorizing transactions is essential to preventing chargebacks under this reason code. Cash advance transactions should have safeguards that prevent the shorting of borrowers. Other helpful steps you can take include the following:

  • Provide a receipt for customers to sign, showing the amount they received for the cash advance.
  • Double-check all transaction amounts and ensure you have the cardholder’s authorization for any changes or additional charges.
  • Reauthorize all changed transactions.
  • Implement proper processing procedures for transactions that involve tips.
  • Service and update your ATMs regularly to ensure optimal operations.
  • Regularly reconcile the cash advance transactions with the amount disbursed.
  • Use cash counting machines to minimize errors when counting and disbursing cash for cash advances.


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