Most sales transactions move smoothly through the system; they are processed, posted, and paid for with very few problems. There are times, however, when a card issuer may require additional information about a transaction and/or need to return a disputed transaction to the acquirer.
Visa and its card issuers and acquirers have in place an efficient dispute resolution process. As part of this process, it is highly critical that all merchants respond swiftly to copy requests and chargebacks.
A copy request (also known as a retrieval request) is made by the card issuer to your acquirer when a copy of the sales receipt is needed for a particular transaction.
A chargeback is the reversal of the dollar value (financial liability), in whole or in part, of a particular transaction by the card issuer to the acquirer, and ultimately, to the merchant. For the merchant business, chargebacks can be costly. You may lose both the dollar amount of the transaction being charged back and the related merchandise. You also incur your own internal handling costs to process a chargeback.
To minimize the number of transaction receipt copy requests, follow these guidelines:
Ensure that the transaction information on the sales receipt is complete, accurate, and legible before completing the transaction. A receipt, which produces an illegible copy may be returned because it cannot be processed properly. The growing use of electronic scanning devices for the electronic transmission of copies of sales receipts makes it imperative that the item being scanned be very legible.
Make sure your establishment name is recognizable to your customer. Verify that the name your merchant bank shows for you on the statement is the same as the name you show on the receipts you give your customers. (Generally, the name used for settlement should be the name you use for your business signage.)
Double-check your establishment name by purchasing an item in each of your outlets on your Visa card and check the merchant name and location on your monthly Visa statement—will your customers recognize transactions made at your establishment?
When your acquirer requests a copy of the transaction receipt from you, it must be photocopied and/or image-scanned. The copy should then be mailed or electronically sent to the acquirer. If the transaction information on the original transaction receipt is too light, too small, or on colored paper, the receipt will not copy or scan legibly. Since an illegible copy defeats the purpose of the copy request, the transaction may be returned to you as a chargeback for “Illegible copy.” Unless the readability of the transaction receipt can be improved, you may end up taking a loss on that transaction. To avoid causing illegible transaction receipts:
Change point-of-sale printer cartridge routinely—faded, barely visible ink on sales receipts is the #1 cause of illegible receipt copies.
Change point-of-sale printer paper when colored streak first appears—the colored streak down the center or the edges of printer paper indicates the end of the paper roll and diminishes the legibility of transaction information.
Keep white copy of sales receipt—Give customers the colored copy. Colored paper does not copy as clearly as white paper and often results in illegible copies.
Handle carbonless paper and carbon/silver-back sales receipt paper carefully—Silver back paper appears black when copied. Any pressure on carbonless and carbon-back paper during handling and storage causes black blotches, making copies illegible.
If your establishment microfilms sales receipts, make copies from the microfilm at the same size as the original receipt—reduced images result in blurred and illegible copies and could result in “illegible copy” chargebacks.
Position the company’s logo or marketing messages on sales receipts away from transaction information—your company name, logo or marketing message printed across the face of sales receipts can make copies illegible and cause you to receive “illegible copy” chargebacks.
Most chargebacks begin when a cardholder reports a problem to the card issuer. Here is a quick snapshot of the streamlined Chargeback Life Cycle in a customer-initiated dispute situation.
Some chargebacks can be resolved easily without the merchant having to lose the sale. This can be done by simply providing additional information about the transaction or about specific actions taken regarding the transaction. The key here is to always supply as much information as possible to your acquirer to help them remedy the chargeback. Consider these guidelines to ensure you have a system in place:
Correspondence between the cardholder and merchant that proves the merchant spoke to the cardholder or received a letter stating that they acknowledge the validity of the transaction.
Evidence that the merchant swiped or imprinted the card, received an authorization approval, and the cardholder’s signature.