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How to Decide to Fight a Chargeback

Representment is an important tool for merchants. Successfully fighting a chargeback and recovering lost revenue is an essential part of managing chargeback costs. But not every chargeback can be successfully fought. And, due to the operational costs and fees associated with the representment process, not every chargeback should be fought, even if it can be won. In determining whether or not to fight a chargeback, merchants should ask themselves the following questions.

Is the chargeback claim legitimate?

To begin, merchants would be well served by being honest with themselves. Some legitimate chargebacks will occur, no matter how carefully run a business is. If the cardholder has a legitimate reason for filing a chargeback, the merchant would be best served to accept it.

Do I have sufficient compelling evidence?

Understanding compelling evidence is an essential element of fighting chargebacks. It is the determining factor in winning a chargeback dispute. If the merchant does not have the right compelling evidence, they will not win. Do not fight any chargebacks without having the evidence to back it up.

Has the time limit to fight the chargeback expired?

Like everything else in the world of payments processing, the chargeback process contains numerous deadlines. Chargeback time limits are generally longer for and more favorable toward cardholders than merchants. As a result, merchants may find themselves in a situation in which they may want to fight a chargeback only to discover that the deadline to do so has passed. Do not waste any time preparing to fight a chargeback if the time limit has run out.

Has the chargeback already been filed? Can it be resolved by other means?

Averting a chargeback through other means such as issuing a refund or contacting the cardholder to resolve the underlying issue is preferable to having to fight a chargeback. If the merchant is made aware of an incoming chargeback that has not yet been filed, they would be better served by employing these methods to preclude the chargeback than by preparing to fight it.

Has the transaction already been refunded? Is the chargeback a duplicate?

Sometimes chargebacks are processed for transactions for which the merchant has also issued a refund. This chargeback-refund double dip may result from cardholder fraud, genuine confusion, or the flaws inherent in the chargeback process. Whatever the cause, a merchant should not have to return double the payment of the original transaction. Fortunately, it should not be difficult to produce the compelling evidence to fight a double chargeback.

Do you have the available time and resources to fight it? Is the amount of the chargeback worth the operational cost of fighting it?

These are ultimately the most important questions to answer. Fighting chargebacks requires an investment of time and resources—generally, the less you spend on one, the more you have to spend on the other. Additionally, there are fees associated with fighting chargebacks that will not be recouped even if you win. A merchant may receive chargebacks that seem good candidates to be fought based on all the aforementioned criteria but are for such low dollar amounts that they would not be worth fighting. If you have to spend more to fight and win a chargeback than the cost of the original transaction, it is not worth fighting the chargeback.


Running a business is often a competitive undertaking and many merchants are used to fighting for their success. It is understandable for merchants to apply the same sort of ambitious, aggressive attitudes that often lead to success in business to the specific task of managing chargebacks. But that can be foolhardy. Some chargebacks can’t be fought and won, others are simply not worth the time an expense required, even if victorious. As Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War: “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.”

Chargeback Representment

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