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Top 3 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Business from Chargebacks After the Holidays

Brant Schelhaas

The holiday season brings increased traffic and sales for many businesses, especially in the retail and restaurant sectors. Merchants put a lot of energy in preparing for the holidays, but may forget about what comes next. Although higher sales are exciting at the time, merchants also need to be prepared for what often comes after the holiday season: chargebacks. These remittances can be overwhelming for companies, as customers make returns on items that didn't fit their recipients' wish lists. While planning for the holidays, merchants should also consider the events of the new year. Here are the top three actions merchants can take to avoid chargebacks after the holidays:

Make customers aware of return policy
The holidays can be stressful for consumers and merchants alike. Consumers usually have many people to shop for and various places to go, making their transactions rushed. Although the point of payment processing is usually when sales representatives give their spiel, clients could miss it in the general hubbub of the moment.

Since customers may not hear the details of a store's holiday policy, it's important for merchants to make sure this information is distributed in another way. Whether it's a sign at each register or printed at the bottom of a receipt, merchants should always make consumers aware of their return policy. While this practice helps clients, it also assists organizations in avoiding chargeback claims. Merchants can use their knowledge of their policy notice to defend themselves against chargebacks. In addition to posting these announcements in the brick-and-mortar store itself, business owners should also be sure to update their ecommerce site with the same information for online customers.

Become EMV and PCI compliant
Although customer chargebacks are common, fraudulent chargebacks are often more detrimental to merchants and their business endeavors. To protect against hackers attempting to steal company and client data, entrepreneurs should make EMV and PCI compliance a priority.

Although neither set of standards are required by the federal government, non-adherence could result in costly penalties for companies. To become EMV compliant, companies must implement a chipped-card reader. Meanwhile, meeting PCI mandates and maintaining compliance is an ongoing process that can be more easily achieved by enlisting the help of an experienced partner. External attacks have become more frequent in the previous years, as data criminals are more savvy to the credit card industry's moves. As a result, it can be challenging for both consumers and businesses to identify counterfeit transactions, which could cause the frequency of both valid and invalid chargeback claims to rise.

Merchants can attempt to quell these instances, however, by adopting EMV, and adapting to EMV and adhering to PCI standards. Not only will compliance help remove liability from companies, it will help businesses build and maintain a trustworthy reputation and strong customer loyalty.

Provide strong customer service
The closer it gets to the holiday season, the more rushed people's transactions and shopping experiences are. Employees may be concerned with increasing their sales and customers are more likely to make impulse purchases. These scenarios can often lead to client-based chargebacks, as people may be questioning their credit card records after the busy period has passed.

To reduce these situations, merchants should train their employees to provide the best customer service possible, regardless of how large the sale is. In addition, entrepreneurs should make sure it's as simple as possible for consumers to get a hold of consumer care representatives if and when there is a problem. While making a call is normally the most popular option for clients, there should be other ways to contact a company if lines are jammed.

By ensuring there is more than one method of communication between people and the organization itself, business owners can avoid the negative sentiment and loss of future sales from these customers.

The holidays can be challenging for both consumers and merchants. Each has a multitude of responsibilities to keep track of during an already busy period of time. It's important for merchants to remember, however, that their hard work doesn't end when the season is over. Instead, the new year often brings chargebacks - both consumer and fraudulent - which can make the first few months of 2016 even more stressful for entrepreneurs. It's crucial for businesses to plan ahead to protect themselves from these instances. By providing great customer service, making consumers aware of company return policies and becoming EMV and PCI compliant, organizations can keep their number of chargebacks to a minimum.

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