Chargeback Reason Code

Visa Chargeback Reason Code 13.3: Not as Described or Defective Merchandise/Services

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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Visa Chargeback Reason Code 13.3: Not as Described or Defective Merchandise/Services

What is Visa Chargeback Reason Code 13.3?

The Visa chargeback reason code 13.3 indicates a consumer dispute with the merchandise or delivery. It occurs when a cardholder claims the merchandise or services received did not match the written or verbal description. Chargebacks under this code also include disputes regarding merchandise or services that donā€™t resemble their pictorial representations during purchase.

We understand the fast-paced nature of the merchant industry, especially with the rise of e-commerce. Consumers must trust a merchantā€™s description of an item or service when ordering. Hence, they expect to receive merchandise or services that match what they saw, read, or heard.

Any deviation from the product description will lead to complaints that can result in this chargeback reason code. The code is rarely used for offline purchases, where cardholders see the items or services before buying. However, a defective product can cause chargebacks and other complications, especially if such products were tested before being sold.

Considering that, you should expect this reason code to occur in your offline and online sales. An oversight in updating a product description could sway the cardholderā€™s expectations. Sometimes, the picture will say something different from the product description.

Products that are not as described are easier to deal with than those claimed to be defective on delivery. The latter raises questions about the cardholderā€™s honesty that the product did not become defective in their hands. Hence, chargebacks under this code are best avoided.

Weā€™ll review the possible reasons for this code and provide ways to fight it effectively. Then, weā€™ll leave you with some tips to prevent it and ensure a healthy business.

Why Did It Happen?

Chargebacks with reason code 13.3 occur when a cardholder claims that merchandise or services received are not as described or defective. These claims will cause the issuer to process a chargeback, as they are closely related to fraud. However, the cardholder can also fraudulently make these claims.

The following are the common reasons or chargebacks under this code:

  • Merchandise or service not as described: This often occurs in online transactions where the cardholder relies on the product page before purchasing an item or service. Minor deviations may slide past, but major ones will always result in disputes. This case can also happen in offline purchases of sealed products where the cardholder relies on the transaction receipt.

The typical response would be for the cardholder to contact you. However, cardholders may contact their issuers if they suspect fraud.

Verbal descriptions of products are also included. These could paint a picture that differs from the actual merchandise.

  • Damaged or Defective Merchandise: Receiving damaged or defective merchandise can cause cardholders to file disputes and receive a chargeback. This can be tricky to handle, as you may have tested the merchandise before shipping. Also, the products could have been damaged in transit.
  • Quality not as expected: This is another cause for chargebacks under this reason code. However, they are less common than those mentioned above. Quality can sometimes be subjective, and pictures may trick consumers into ascribing a higher quality to a product.

Sending merchandise or services that differ from their description is an oversight you should avoid. Besides these causes, some consumers may make false claims. For example, they may damage the merchandise but claim that they received it damaged.

Once youā€™ve identified the cause, you can fight the chargeback. The approach will depend on the cause.


How to Fight Visa Chargeback Reason Code 13.3: Not as Described or Defective Merchandise/Services

Sometimes, identifying the cause of a chargeback may involve talking with the buyer. Take all necessary steps to know the reasons before fighting it. Otherwise, you may lack adequate evidence to counter it.

If you sent the wrong merchandise to the cardholder, your response should be to accept the chargeback and reship the merchandise. Other approaches you can take to fight chargebacks under this reason code are as follows:

  • If the products or services are as described: You can provide a copy of the description page or transaction receipt containing the description. That should be enough for a physical description. Things do get tricky with quality disputes.

Provide documents and specifications to confirm the productā€™s quality. Ensure you address each point the cardholder raises against the quality. Also, provide evidence to show that the buyer was aware of and agreed to the merchandise or serviceā€™s quality.

  • If you have not received the merchandise: You canā€™t lose money and merchandise simultaneously. Any cardholder who disputes your delivery should return the item. Hence, you can submit evidence that youā€™ve not received the merchandise or that the cardholder has no intention of returning it.

Check your incoming shipping records to ensure the merchandise has yet to be shipped.

  • If you replaced or repaired the merchandise: Provide evidence that the cardholder agreed to the repairs or replacement, you made the repairs or replacement, and there are no further disputes.
  • If you have processed a credit: Provide documents showing the transaction date and amount.

Cardholders can also withdraw their disputes. Submit documentation to prove this withdrawal.

How to Prevent Visa Chargeback Reason Code 13.3: Not as Described or Defective Merchandise/Services

Chargebacks under this code can quickly lead to a back and forth, especially if the merchandise was damaged during shipping. Hence, you should take adequate steps to prevent them. The following are a few tips we recommend to avoid chargebacks under reason code 13.3:

  • Have clear shipping and monitoring protocols to ensure goods are not damaged in transit. You can also have insurance to cover all shipping damages.
  • Update your product description pages as soon as new stock arrives. Double-check to ensure the description matches the products before going live.
  • Avoid verbal descriptions. Instead, ensure your buyer sees a written or pictorial description and agrees to it before buying.
  • Test all products before shipping them. This should be standard protocol if you sell used items. Sealed or new items should have their seal on when shipping.
  • Address all requests for repairs or replacements quickly.


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