We’ve been a global credit card processing provider since 2001, and, having provided high risk payment processing to thousands of e-commerce businesses worldwide, we’ve just about seen it all. In the current climate, half the battle for an e-commerce business (or any business, for that matter) to surviving and thriving is finding the balance between working with customers in disputes, and identifying fraudulent consumers trying to take advantage.
It can be a tough ask, as some ill-willed consumers insist the mile when given an inch.
The following story concerns a local business, but we feel it applies to all merchants in global credit card processing, particularly this time of year, when chargebacks and returns reach a fever pitch.
Merchants sometimes need to see the dispute from the consumer’s viewpoint, especially if it’s a product/service that has a deadline or limited window.
For Christmas 2013, my wife and I received one of the best gifts we can remember from my mother-in-law — a gift certificate for a dinner for four at the top of a decommissioned lighthouse overlooking the harbor of the small New England town in which we live.
Being a lighthouse buff, I was particularly excited. For me, lighthouses are landmarks of history, monuments which represent an important service and industry in American history. We had spoken to friends who had had dinner at the lighthouse, and it didn’t disappoint.
Our two children were small at the time, thus it took us awhile to actually make our reservation — in fact, nearly a full year. My mother-in-law purchased the gift certificate on Groupon in October of 2013 for about half of its worth (about $375).
Finally in early December 2014, when I called to make our reservation, the gentleman (we’ll call him Angus) informed me that the gift certificate was more than a year old, that he couldn’t honor the full dinner for four. The best he could do, he said, was to charge the regular cost of a dinner for four (more than $600), but would accept the gift certificate value ($375) toward the cost of the full dinner.
I thought that was unfortunate, but for me, dinner at the top of a lighthouse seemed worth it. Thus, I booked a date for late January 2015 (the soonest we could get was a Sunday afternoon, as all weekend evenings were booked).
I thought about my conversation with Angus, and the more I did, the stronger I felt that he should honor the full dinner. My mother-in-law purchased the gift certificate in October of 2013, and we received it the following Christmas morning. When I called Angus to schedule our reservation, he was correct – it was more than one year old.
My argument, however, was that this was a Christmas gift. We didn’t receive it until Dec. 25, 2013, and (perhaps wrongly), assumed we had until Dec. 25, 2014 to make good on it. I strongly felt we had that right; that in this case, Angus should allow us some leeway by extending the expiration date.
The next day, I telephoned Angus and made my case. I surprised myself by explaining to him that, frankly, it was bad business to penalize me hundreds of dollars over a technicality.
Angus politely listened, and he agreed with me to his credit. I thanked him profusely. Days later, I sent him an e-mail, thanking him once again. My wife and friends enjoyed the experience so much, we gave Angus’ company a glowing review, and included the part about accommodating us despite the expiration (in hindsight, we hope it didn’t cause him further aggravation).
Why the merchant saw my argument
Firstly, there is no communication like person-to-person communication, particularly in global credit card processing disputes. I feel Angus accepted my side of the argument primarily because I contacted him personally rather than e-mail my grievance, which he easily could’ve discarded. Through my reasoning, he understood the gift I received was very meaningful.
Secondly, I convinced him that since this was a gift purchased nearly three months before we received it (hence, my oversight of the expiration); therefore he saw the issue clearly.
The lesson for merchants
The aforementioned story isn’t so much another cliché why ‘the customer is always right.’ It is much more a lesson about understanding that gifts which include deadlines and expiration dates are often purchased long before Christmas. Thus, the deadlines often elude customers.
It is similar with returns. Gifts are often purchased long before the recipient opens them on Christmas morning. While the recipient may opt to return the gift after the return window has closed, they should inform the merchant it was a Christmas gift — and the merchant is better served to keep an open mind.
It’s the most difficult time of the year for global credit card processing
Many, if not all, global credit card processing merchants are holding their collective breath this time of year: We’re in the midst of the post-holiday chargeback-return madness.
Many merchants — e-commerce and storefront — are skeptical about handling certain chargebacks, understandably. We’re in a climate in which chargeback and return fraud runs rampant. Some merchants even fight back nowadays, through a third-party service.
Not only can the good folks here at Instabill provide the best global credit card processing services, we are also partnered with the best chargeback and fraud prevention and mitigation firm we know. We are always up for a conversation with merchants about their payment processing needs at 1-800-530-2444.