Shopify Payments Chargeback: Here’s how you win disputes without breaking a sweat

10 min readJun 21, 2021

Despite the fantastic benefits, credit card transactions are fraught with risks. There’s the issue of fraud, and then you have customer disputes. Research shows that, on average, 2.59% of all credit card transactions end up in a chargeback. And being one of the major payment gateways, Shopify is not exempt from the aggravating issue of payment disputes.

For purposes of clarity, a Shopify payments chargeback occurs when a customer disputes a transaction with their issuing bank. When that happens, the issuing bank will gather evidence from the customer and assign a reason code to the chargeback based on the card network.

Across the four major credit card networks(i.e., American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa), there are 151 chargeback reason codes. However, Shopify has whittled down these 100+ reason codes into eight broad categories. And understanding the reason code connected with the chargeback enables you to tailor your compelling evidence appropriately.

This article will analyze the most common types of reason codes that merchants encounter. And the compelling evidence you must include when submitting a response to help you win Shopify chargebacks without breaking a sweat.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Before we take a deep dive into our subject of the day, let’s get the FAQs out of the way.

What is Shopify Payments and how is it different from other payment gateways?

Shopify Payments is an add-on service provided by Shopify to help merchants accept payments online. They created it to eliminate the hassle of setting up a third-party payment provider or merchant account and having to enter the credentials into Shopify. With Shopify Payments, you’re automatically set up to accept all major payment methods as soon as you create your Shopify store.

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On the distinction between Shopify Payments and other payment gateways, Shopify Payments offers many advantages to vendors using the platform.

For one, it’s easy to set up. With a few clicks, you can activate Shopify Payments from the Payments page in the Shopify settings. After that, your customers can make credit card payments on your store.

Another advantage is that the processing fees are lower because there are no Shopify fees. More so, Shopify Payments allows for upsells, you can transact in multiple currencies, and it has in-built subscription support.

Having cleared the fundamental questions, let’s get back to the chargeback reason codes you should anticipate and how to navigate each one effectively.

Number one: Fraudulent chargebacks

Industry data shows that fraudulent chargebacks account for the majority of consumer disputes.

Listed as American Express reason code 193, Visa reason code 83, MasterCard reason code 4863, and Discover reason code 6040, customers file fraudulent chargebacks when they believe fraud has occurred.

You should ALWAYS keep in mind that just because a chargeback contains fraud or No Authorization reason code does not confirm that actual fraud has occurred.

For the most part, this can be an online shoplifter trying to take your lunch money. And you can shield yourself against the majority of this scam by confirming the customer’s IP address and obtaining AVS or CVV.

Below are important documents to include in your representment.

It’s helpful to highlight that the nature of your business and the conditions surrounding the transaction will determine how you respond to Shopify payments chargebacks. Suppose you obtained permission from the cardholder by confirming AVS and CVV used. In that case, you should supply at least the following in your response:

  1. Proof of the delivery date, time, and evidence that the item was delivered to the same address for which an AVS match of “Y” is the same as address and five-digit ZIP or “M” (non-U.S. match). That is if you delivered the product to the cardholder’s address.
  2. If you delivered the merchandise to the cardholder’s business address, then include evidence that he/she was at work on that day. And add evidence to show the cardholder works at the said address at the time of delivery.
  3. A copy of the transaction invoice or an order form that has been signed
  4. A delivery confirmation containing the recipient’s signature on the pick-up form, information about the cardholder’s identity — the cardholder must submit a copy of their identification.

You can also go above and beyond the above standard compelling evidence to include indexes such as images, emails, or other forms of ancillary order documents as proof that

  1. The cardholder who is challenging the transaction has ownership of or is using the goods.
  2. The cardholder’s family member authorized the transaction.
  • An earlier undisputed transaction used the IP address, email address, physical address, and telephone number.

What if you sell digital products?

To respond to fraudulent chargeback on digital items, you must arm yourself with more compelling evidence, such as a description of the goods downloaded, the date and time of download. And you must include at least two of the following in the chargeback response:

  • The device’s geographic location during the transaction;
  • The customer’s IP address when they made the transaction;
  • The exact name and email address linked to customer profile;
  • The device’s ID number and name;
  • Proof of customer profile activation and confirmation before the disputed transaction date and time, if applicable;
  • Evidence to show the customer utilized or accessed the digital merchandise.

‍Number two: Product Not Received chargebacks

American Express reason code 155, Visa reason code 30, MasterCard reason code 4855, and Discover reason code 4755 are all specific reason codes for Shopify payment chargebacks. The cardholder alleges they never received the products or services.

In legitimate cases, it might be that the shipping was delayed, or the merchant didn’t ship the order at all. Product Not Received chargebacks are prevalent when a merchant does not have well-crafted shipping and fulfilment policies.

Because most chargebacks are likely cases of friendly fraud, you should conduct due diligence to avoid a waste of money.

What you should include in your response for this category of Shopify Payments Chargeback

The first and most crucial evidence to include in your representment is documentation showing the customer obtained the product, service, or digital goods before the day they challenged the transaction is required.

In the case of tangible merchandise, below is some compelling evidence that can help you win the Shopify chargeback:

  1. Order tracking information;
  2. Detail of the shipment address matching the one provided by the customer;
  3. The cardholder’s signature on the pick-up form. If available.
  4. A signed contract or other evidence indicating you offered the services/delivered the merchandise.
  5. A copy of identification presented by the cardholder, if available.
  6. The details of the title issued by the cardholder.

Include the following if digital merchandise was provided:

  • Server or activity records
  • IP addresses
  • Timestamps
  • Proof that the buyer used the digital items they purchased, such as:

If you sold intangible goods, you might be able to protect yourself in other ways if a buyer files a Shopify chargeback by adding the following:

  • An IP address
  • Timestamps
  • Server or activity logs to show he or she accessed the product or service.
  • The date of the services
  • Documentation proving you delivered the services on the agreed-upon dates to the customer

Number three: Product unacceptable chargebacks

Product unacceptable chargebacks are represented by American Express reason code C31, Visa reason code 53, MasterCard reason code 4853, or Discover reason code 4553.

And customers file ‘Product Unacceptable’ Shopify payment chargebacks when they feel the goods they received either came damaged, was defective, or was not as described by the merchant at the time of the transaction.

A customer can also declare merchandise unsuitable if they think it to be of inferior quality, counterfeit, or if the terms of sale were misrepresented.

To curtail this, first and foremost, the product descriptions should reflect the item sold accurately. For honest users, poor product descriptions or refund policies are the most common causes of Shopify chargebacks.

Be aware, customers who sought to return purchased merchandise but were denied due to your return policy can also take the backdoor by filing a chargeback — pretending that the goods are defective. Strict return policies can cause more harm than good.

Some valuable documentation to include in your response:

For your rebuttal, ensure that you have all relevant details on order — with a complete product description as captured on your store.

  • Add a rebuttal letter that clearly shows how the cardholder’s claims are not legitimate;
  • Include documents highlighting that the cardholder did not attempt to return the item (if applicable);
  • Add screenshots and any supporting documents to show that the merchandise supplied matched the description;
  • Include shipping date, carrier details, and the complete shipping address.

Include the following documentation if you provided digital merchandise:

  • Proof that the buyer used the digital items they purchased, such as:
  • Server or activity records IP addresses Timestamps

Suppose the transaction took happened online, and an offline service was provided. In that case, you can add the date of the services and documentation showing the services were delivered to the customer according to the agreed terms of service. But, this can only hold water if the customer “knew about and agreed” to the said terms.

Number four: Subscription billing Shopify payment chargebacks

Visa reason code 41, MasterCard reason code 4841, American Express reason code 4544, or Discover reason code 4541 describe this condition.

As we explained in a previous article, even though the subscription billing business model yield increased revenue for merchants, they are not without significant drawbacks.

There seems to be a direct proportion between the rise in the “set and forget” business model and increased chargebacks.

Here is some data: The rate of chargebacks for subscription merchants offering digital goods at an average of 3.25 percent. For sellers offering tangible products, the subscription chargeback rate is on an average of 2.25 percent.

We covered the reason for the uptick in chargebacks for subscription businesses in this article. And as you already know, having excessive Shopify chargebacks does unbelievable damage to your business. So be sure to keep a pulse of your chargeback-to-transaction ratio.

What you need to win this Shopify payment chargeback.

The following are essential documentation you should include in your response to overturn meritless subscription billing chargeback.

  • Evidence to show the cardholder agreed to your subscription policy;
  • Documentation proving they did not cancel the subscription;
  • A description, usually in the form of a snapshot, of how and where your cancellation policy was shown to the consumer at the time of the transaction;
  • Evidence of a notification issued to the consumer on the renewal or continuation of their subscription;
  • Proof that the cardholder continued to use the goods beyond the declared cancellation date;
  • Evidence, such as IP address, Timestamps Server, or activity logs, showing that the buyer used the purchased merchandise beyond the said cancellation date if digital items were made available.

The caveat is that how you respond to the subscription billing Shopify chargeback largely depends on the specific condition of the transaction. There is no one-size-fits-all response template — be sure to tailor your response to the issue at hand.

Number five: Unrecognized chargebacks

Transaction unrecognized Shopify payment chargebacks are captured in MasterCard reason code 4837, Discover reason code UA38, and Visa reason code 72.

Much like fraudulent chargebacks, this category of dispute occurs when the cardholder is “unaware” of a transaction on their account. The slight difference is that, in this case, the cardholder initially does not think their account information has been compromised.

In legitimate cases, this dispute arises due to inadequate billing descriptors. Many merchants often use codes and unique data sets to represent transactions for accounting purposes. And this could make the cardholder not identify the transaction at first glance. Hence, when they see the deduction on their card, they’ll just hit you back with unrecognized Shopify payment chargeback.

That said, it’s wise to review your order details/records and ensure they are not letting you down.

What should you include in your response?

The first thing you should know is that you must treat unrecognized transaction Shopify payment chargeback the same way you do fraudulent chargebacks.

So, if you obtained authorization from the cardholder and used AVS and CVV, you must provide that with the following documentation:

  1. A copy of the transaction invoice or an order form they signed;
  2. Delivery approval (depending on the method of delivery used);
  3. Compelling evidence of a connection between the recipient of the order and the cardholder (if possible/obtainable);
  4. Proof that the cardholder who is disputing the transaction is using the goods;
  5. Previous undisputed transactions utilized the same IP address, email address, physical address, and phone number.

In conclusion, as long as you are using Shopify for payments, you must deal with chargebacks. One way or the other. And it doesn’t matter how diligent you are in observing the above recommendations — you can NEVER eliminate chargebacks, more so because online shoplifters are constantly devising ways and means of taking advantage of the system.

Thankfully, with help from experts who understand the game inside out, and technology tools built to give you an upper hand, you will never again have to break a sweat in mitigating chargebacks.

This post first appeared here.




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