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Chargeback Costs & Fraud Liability

Chargebacks were intended to provide a means for merchants, banks and consumers to resolve cases of abuse and fraud. They have been pretty good at doing this, but they have also created a lot of finger pointing and higher costs for everyone involved. 

The total cost of a chargeback can include refund of the sale, lost product and additional fees such as chargeback fees. For this reason many merchants go out of their way to resolve customer satisfaction complaints and have lenient refund policies. When it comes to true fraud, a merchant may have little-to-no recourse.

Online fraud costs more than the direct loss of product or service...

When fraud occurs in the card-present world, the issuer typically picks up the costs for fraud as long as the merchant is EMV compliant. However, the merchant will still have some associated costs that are not covered by this. These include the associated labor costs, transaction and interchange fees and operational post-transaction costs to handle the chargeback. The merchant will also have to pay a chargeback fee.

Online Shopping

In the card-not-present world the merchant is typically the one paying for the fraud, outside of 3-D Secure liability coverage or the use of guaranteed fraud prevention services. Typically the merchant has already lost the goods, all of the overhead costs they spent on the order, and they will still have to pay a chargeback fee.

For customer-service chargebacks the merchant pays a chargeback fee and unless they can resolve the customer service issue they may have physical loss of goods and services and associated overhead costs as well. 3-D Secure and guaranteed fraud prevention services protect against specific, fraud-related reason codes only, and are therefore not covered in terms of liability.

Chargeback Liability Example

  • Total Sale = $100.00

  • Margin (22%) = $22.00

  • Credit Card Issuer Interchange & Acquirer MDR (3.5%) = $3.50

  • Net Profit = Margin – Credit Card Issuer Interchange & Acquirer MDR = $18.50

The merchant will make $18.50 from this one sale, if it ends up as a chargeback, it will cost them: 

  • Consumer Refund = $100.00

  • Chargeback Fee = $25.00