Podium’s recommended best practices for responding to disputes.
Where to find disputes
When a dispute occurs, Podium will email your business. This email will include all relevant information about the payment being disputed. You can use these details to help you decide if you would like to respond to or accept the dispute. If you decide to respond to the dispute, you may submit appropriate evidence.
Handling a dispute
When you receive a dispute, you can choose to either submit evidence that disproves the dispute or accept it. Some of your options for responding to a dispute are listed below.
RESPONDING TO A DISPUTE
- Dispute Submission Timeline: Podium will communicate timelines to you through email. Deadlines to submit evidence are determined by the card networks directly, not Podium, so it is important to follow all steps outlined in email by the date given. After that time elapses, you will no longer be able to submit further responses or evidence. After you submit evidence, Podium will receive a response from the card issuer within 90 days and alert you of the outcome.
ACCEPTING A DISPUTE
In some instances, choosing to accept a dispute and forgoing the disputed funds may be your preferred course of action. To accept a dispute, simply refrain from responding to the dispute in any way. Accepting a dispute isn’t considered an admission of wrongdoing and is sometimes the most appropriate response for your business and your relationship with the customer. In the eyes of the card brands, the percentage of won or lost disputes is not considered in determining your overall dispute rate. They will look only at the number of disputes you receive as a percentage of your overall transactions -- for this reason, a dispute prevention program is strongly encouraged to maintain a healthy dispute percentage.
CONTACTING YOUR CUSTOMER ABOUT A DISPUTE
Before responding to a dispute, you may consider communicating with your customer directly to understand why they have filed a dispute. If, after communicating with your customer, they choose to withdraw the dispute, you still must submit evidence in case the customer changes their mind later.
- Refunding a withdrawn dispute: If, after communicating with your customer, they have decided to withdraw a dispute on the terms that you will issue a full refund, be aware that it can take 60 to 75 days for your funds to be returned to your Podium Balance. Only when this happens can a refund be made.
Remember - even if your customer withdraws the dispute, you must still submit evidence specific to the original dispute type or you may still lose the dispute.
REFUNDING A DISPUTE
You cannot refund a payment that has formally been disputed. Once a dispute has been filed, the disputed amount will be removed from your Podium Balance (if your balance is less than the disputed amount, the remainder will be removed from your bank account).
Guide to submitting evidence
Dispute reviewers work for credit card companies, and because of this are incentivized to side with the person who made the dispute. When submitting evidence, organize the information in a clear and efficient way that makes it easy for the dispute reviewer that you should win the dispute. You can only submit evidence once, so be sure to include all necessary information, review it carefully, and reach out to Podium support if you have any questions.
BEST PRACTICES FOR EVIDENCE SUBMISSION
Document and Image Guidance
Most card issuers continue to heavily rely on faxing documents when reviewing evidence submission. Before submitting your evidence, make sure text and images within documents are clear and large enough to show up legibly in a black and white fax transmission. Anything illegible will not be considered by card issuers as part of your evidence submission.
When submitting documents or images as evidence, use the following recommendations to make sure they are legible:
- Use a 12 point font or larger
- Make sure that documents are US Letter or A4 size, in portrait orientation (you can still add screenshots to your documents in landscape orientation)
- Use bold text, callouts, or arrows to draw attention to pertinent information
- Avoid using color highlighting
- Crop the screenshot to the area of interest and circle any key components (e.g., delivery confirmation or signature)
Additional document or image requirements are as follows:
- Only PDF, JPEG, or PNG file types are accepted
- The combined file size can’t be more than 5MB
- The combined page count must be less than 50 pages
- You can compress your files with tools such as Smallpdf
Evidence should be specific and factual
Card issuers review thousands of dispute submissions every day. Concise and factual submissions will put the most valuable information in front of the card issuer. Overwhelming the card issuer with unnecessary information or evidence requiring many steps to access may reduce your likelihood of winning the dispute.
You should not include:
- Audio or video files (as evidence is faxed to card issuers)
- Requests to call or email you (or the customer) for more information
- Links to additional details (e.g., file downloads or links to tracking information)
- Lengthy descriptions about your business, your relationship with the customer, or your opinion/rationale
You should include:
- Transcripts of any audio or video files
- Images, including screenshots
- Succinct and fact-based explanations
- Document of original purchase
- Documents that disprove the specific dispute type received
“Milly Joseph purchased X from our company on [date] using a Mastercard credit card. The customer agreed to our terms of service and authorized this transaction. We shipped the product on [date] to the address provided by the customer, and it was delivered on [date].”
GUIDANCE ON BUILDING YOUR BEST DEFENSE
When a customer disputes a payment, a specific dispute type will be assigned by the card issuer. Any evidence submitted should seek to disprove the specific dispute type.
Below is a list of dispute types:
- Credit not processed
- Product not received
- Product unacceptable
- Subscription canceled
Evidence should match the dispute type
When you receive an email notifying you that a dispute has been filed, Podium will provide additional information about the type of dispute.
The evidence you submit should be specific to the type of dispute that your customer’s card issuer has assigned. For example, a response to a dispute type “product not received” will have the greatest chance of winning when supported by evidence that includes shipping information such as: images of tracking IDs, delivery confirmations, signature upon receipt, emails exchanged confirming receipt, etc.
Evidence you should always include
When preparing evidence for a dispute, the following customer details should always be included.
- The billing address provided by the customer
- The name of the customer
- The email address or phone number of the customer
- Any relevant document or contract showing the customer’s signature
- Any communication with the customer that you feel is relevant to your case (e.g., Podium conversation screenshots, emails proving that they received the product or service, or demonstrating their use of or satisfaction with the product or service)
- Any receipt or message sent to the customer notifying them of the charge
- A description of the product or service and any relevant details on how this was presented to the customer at the time of purchase
Proof of customer authorization
It’s important to prove the legitimate cardholder was aware of and authorized the transaction. Proof of this might be signed receipts (which will be linked for you in the Podium notification email), contracts, or other confirmations.
Proof of service or delivery
Once you’ve verified that a good or service was not faulty, was as described, and was delivered prior to the dispute date, you should provide proof of service or delivery:
- For a merchandise purchase, provide proof of shipment and delivery that includes the full delivery address.
- If your customer provides a “Ship to” name that differs from their own (e.g., a gift purchase), be prepared to provide documentation explaining why they’re different. While it’s common practice to purchase and ship to an address that doesn’t match the verified billing address for the card, this is an additional dispute risk.
- If your business provides a service or digital goods, include evidence such as an IP address or system log proving the customer downloaded the content or used your service.
Include your terms of service and refund policy
It can be very compelling to provide proof that your customer agreed to and understood your terms of service at checkout, or didn’t follow your policies. A screenshot of how you present your terms of service or other policies during checkout is an important addition to your evidence—it’s not enough to include a text copy of these only.
Evidence for Visa disputes
Visa has stronger requirements on the evidence required to win a dispute that has been assigned ‘fraudulent’ or ‘product not received’. In the case you receive one of these dispute types, you will need to collect and submit what is called ‘compelling evidence,’ or proof that the cardholder participated in the transaction, received any goods or services, and benefited from the transaction. In these cases, if you do not submit the required ‘compelling evidence,’ you will automatically lose the dispute.
COVID-19 Related Dispute Guidance
Visa and Mastercard have issued guidelines for resolving COVID-19 related disputes - specifically for those disputes resulting from goods or services canceled directly due to a government order or prohibition.
If your business is receiving disputes that fall into this category and you need to submit dispute evidence before the submission date, we recommend Reviewing the Visa and Mastercard websites for COVID-19 related updates can help you understand the types of disputes the networks view as valid and the types of evidence you should submit to increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.