The Road to Recovery: Know the Detours and How to Protect Your Business

2020 has been a difficult year for many personally and professionally. We hope you, your family, and your team are remaining safe and healthy. Ascent’s deep experience in the lodging and vacation rental industry means we understand the difficult decisions our clients face when you’ve been affected by a natural disaster (wildfires, tropical storms, etc.), emergency, and now a pandemic. We are here to help guide you through chargebacks and other issues that may arise during these unusual circumstances. First, know the applicable laws for your state because government regulation and/or law supersedes Visa’s rules on dispute rights.

Chargebacks – Know the Applicable Laws

A Pending Dispute: 

A larger client located in North Carolina was recently dealing with a pre-arbitration chargeback due to a mandatory hurricane evacuation and came to us for help.

As is often the case, the circumstances that caused the dispute were out of the merchant’s control. The chargeback amount was over $2,000 for the final payment amount. The dates of the evacuation matched exactly with the guests’ dates of stay, so they were unable to participate in their vacation at all. The guests had chosen NOT to buy the travel insurance when they booked the trip.

The merchant received the temporary credit back after responding to the first round of chargeback documentation but then received the pre-arbitration notice. Like many Vacation Rental Property Managers, this merchant was struggling with the decision of whether to risk the additional $500 (on average) in fees that would be assessed if they escalated the dispute to Arbitration with Visa and lost, or if they should just accept the loss of the chargeback amount and play it safe.

This merchant eventually decided to escalate the case to arbitration, using the North Carolina Vacation Rentals Act as the basis of their case. The North Carolina Vacation Rentals Act which states that vacationers who refuse travel insurance when offered it before taking possession of the property are NOT entitled to a refund if mandatory evacuation orders are issued. https://www.ncleg.net/enactedlegislation/statutes/html/bychapter/chapter_42a.html

This is important because:

  • Visa has stated that in the event of any conflict between the Visa Rules and any applicable laws or regulations, the requirements of the laws or regulations govern.
  • Visa states that government regulation and/or law supersedes Visa rules on dispute rights.

The client was already aware of the pertinent law and had an organized and well-documented rebuttal put together when they came to us. Ascent helped by clarifying the language to match Visa’s own Rules and statements regarding government law superseding Visa rules on dispute rights.

The status of the outcome of this chargeback is still pending.

Takeaways 

  • Know the federal, state, and local laws and whether they are applicable to a specific dispute.
  • State your case using the card brand’s own rules or language for maximum clarity and impact.
  • It is still your business decision how you respond to each dispute, including if you want to take the risk of the additional fees assessed to the loser of an arbitration chargeback. But knowledge is power!
  • Knowing how the card brands operate and rule can only help you make sound decisions for your business.
  • The best way to avoid losing a chargeback is still to avoid getting a chargeback in the first place.

Ascent’s excellent chargeback support can clarify your choices with disputed transaction situations and illuminate how you decide to move forward. Here as some proactive tips in dealing with chargebacks during this time.

The card brands’ expectation is that merchants will act in good faith, work directly with the cardholder whenever possible to resolve issues outside of the chargeback system, and be as flexible as possible when resolving disputed transactions.

Ascent can never guarantee chargeback outcomes in the merchant’s favor. Every dispute is unique and is decided by the issuing bank and the card brand (if escalated to pre-arbitration).

Please see more tools we have available NOW for navigating your road to recovery. If you have questions or want more information, contact us at clientsuccess@ascentprocessing.com.

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