Chargeback Dispute Statistics for Merchants

Chargeback Dispute Statistics for Merchants

Chargeback disputes represent a growing challenge for merchants and financial institutions. Originating as a consumer protection mechanism, chargebacks were designed to ensure customers could dispute fraudulent or erroneous transactions. 

The rise of eCommerce has transformed chargebacks into a complex and often costly aspect of doing business. We dig into the facts and statistics on chargebacks. Some of the example chargeback statistics are:

  • On average, the chargeback rate is 0.5% of total transactions result in a chargeback.
  • High risk industries, like travel, have around a 1.93% as a chargeback rate.
  • It’s estimated that 48% of chargebacks are fraud-related
  • A merchant generally needs to spend between 2 to 5 hours to dispute a chargeback
  • Chargebacks take anywhere from one to six months to resolve
  • Merchants generally win 20-30% of chargeback disputes. 

The Prevalence of Chargebacks

Chargeback rates can vary significantly across different industries and types of transactions. On average, the chargeback rate hovers around 0.5% of total transactions, but rates exceeding 1% are generally considered high risk by payment processors. 

Certain sectors, particularly those dealing with digital goods, travel, and high-ticket items, experience even higher chargeback rates. For instance, the travel industry reports an average chargeback rate of approximately 1.93%.

The True Cost of Chargebacks

While chargebacks might initially appear as a simple reversal of a transaction, the associated costs are more than the transaction amount. Our research indicates that the true cost of a chargeback can be 2.5 times the original transaction value. 

For every $1 in chargebacks, merchants face an average loss of $2.40. These costs encompass things like chargeback fees, penalties, merchandise loss, and operational expenses related to managing disputes.

The Different Reasons for Chargebacks

Chargebacks occur for various reasons, with the most common being fraud-related issues, accounting for approximately 48% of all chargebacks. Fraudulent chargebacks often arise from unauthorized transactions, where the cardholder claims their card was used without their consent. This category has seen a significant increase with the rise of e-commerce, where card-not-present (CNP) transactions are more susceptible to fraud. Another prevalent reason is unrecognized transactions, which make up about 26% of chargebacks. These typically occur when customers do not recognize or remember a transaction on their statement, often due to unclear merchant descriptors or multiple transactions from the same merchant in a short period.

Product or service issues contribute to around 24% of chargebacks. These disputes arise when customers are dissatisfied with the quality of the goods or services received, claiming they were defective, not as described, or not received at all. For example, in the retail industry, up to 20% of chargebacks are due to merchandise not being delivered as expected. Furthermore, billing errors and duplicate charges account for a smaller percentage of chargebacks, roughly 5-10%, where customers dispute charges due to incorrect billing amounts or being charged multiple times for a single transaction.

The travel and hospitality industry faces unique challenges, with up to 40% of chargebacks in this sector attributed to customer service issues and cancellations. Digital goods and services also see high chargeback rates, especially for subscriptions and downloadable content, where consumers might dispute recurring charges or claim that digital products were not delivered. Understanding the specific reasons behind chargebacks in different industries helps merchants develop targeted strategies to mitigate these disputes, such as improving customer communication, enhancing transaction descriptors, and implementing robust fraud prevention measures. 

Merchants Need to Spend to Dispute Chargebacks

Disputing a chargeback is a meticulous process that requires a merchant to invest considerable effort and attention to detail. Initially, the merchant needs to review the chargeback notification thoroughly to understand the reason for the dispute, which usually takes around 15-30 minutes. Next, gathering evidence is one of the most time-consuming steps, often taking 1 to 3 hours, as it involves collecting transaction receipts, proof of delivery, customer communications, and any other relevant documentation that supports the legitimacy of the transaction.

Once the evidence is gathered, the merchant must prepare a detailed response. Crafting a compelling rebuttal letter that clearly explains why the chargeback is unwarranted and organizing the evidence to present a strong case can take another 1 to 2 hours. During this time, the merchant may also need to fill out specific forms required by the acquirer or card network.

Submitting the response and following up with the acquirer to ensure that all required information has been received and is being processed correctly can add another 30 to 60 minutes. It’s essential for the merchant to keep track of the dispute’s progress and be prepared to provide additional information if requested by the card issuer.

Throughout the process, effective communication with the acquirer is crucial. This might involve several phone calls or emails, each lasting 10-15 minutes, to ensure all parties are aligned and that the dispute is moving forward. Maintaining thorough records and having a systematic approach to managing chargebacks can significantly streamline this process.

In total, while the active time a merchant spends will be between 2 to 5 hours. The overall timeline from notification to resolution can span several weeks to months.

Resolution Time to Dispute a Chargeback

Disputing a chargeback involves a multi-step process that can take anywhere from one to six months to resolve. Upon receiving a chargeback notification, which usually happens within a few days to a few weeks after the transaction, merchants have 10 to 45 days to respond, depending on the card network and acquirer’s policies. 

To dispute a chargeback, merchants need to gather relevant evidence such as transaction receipts, proof of delivery, and any correspondence with the customer. This evidence, along with a detailed rebuttal letter, must be submitted to the acquirer. The review period by the card issuer can take several days to weeks, and the final decision may require additional follow-up. On average, merchants might spend several hours to a few days collecting and organizing evidence, preparing the response, and communicating with their acquirer. Efficient record-keeping and timely responses are crucial for a successful dispute resolution.

How Often Merchants Win Chargeback Disputes

Merchants win chargeback disputes approximately 20-30% of the time, though this success rate can vary widely based on factors such as the industry, the quality of the evidence presented, and the specific reason for the chargeback. Certain sectors, such as eCommerce and digital goods, often face higher chargeback rates and may experience different win rates compared to more traditional retail businesses. 

The success of a dispute largely depends on the merchant’s ability to provide compelling, well-organized evidence that clearly supports the legitimacy of the transaction. Utilizing chargeback management tools and having a robust process in place can help increase the likelihood of winning disputes. Despite these efforts, the inherent complexities and varied reasons for chargebacks mean that merchants must remain vigilant and proactive in managing and disputing chargebacks to protect their revenue effectively.


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