Chargebacks, in the simplest terms, are forced transaction reversals initiated by the cardholder’s bank. A classic example in hotels might be when a guest claims they were wrongfully charged for minibar items they never consumed. In the restaurant sector, a diner may dispute being charged for a meal they claim they never ordered. If validated, the bank will pull those funds from the restaurant’s account, essentially ‘charging back’ the transaction amount, plus additional fees.

As you’d expect, chargebacks have direct financial impacts on merchants, not just from the refunded amount but also from penalty fees. We’re talking about a financial hit up to double the initial transaction value when you consider fees and additional expenses.

In this article, our goal is to provide hotel and restaurant operators with a comprehensive understanding of chargebacks and delve into the mechanics of the dispute process.

Breaking Down the Chargeback Process

When a customer dines at your restaurant and later believes there was an issue with the payment, they might initiate a dispute with their bank or credit card issuer. They could argue that the transaction was unauthorized, or perhaps they felt the service they received wasn’t up to par. For instance, imagine a guest who claims they never ordered that extra bottle of wine, or a hotel visitor stating they were charged for room service they never received.

Upon receiving such a claim, the bank assesses its validity. If they find the customer’s complaint has merit, they kick-start the chargeback process. This will involve your payment processor or merchant bank, who will then reach out to you, typically with a chargeback notification. Based on the terms you’ve set with your bank, the amount in question might be temporarily withdrawn from your account.

At this stage, you, as the hotel or restaurant manager, will have a window of opportunity, generally a few weeks, to address the chargeback. You can either:

  • Accept it, which means you’re not contesting the customer’s claim.
  • Challenge it, if you believe the transaction was legitimate. Here, you’d need to provide evidence to validate the charge. For instance, if a restaurant client disputes a meal charge, presenting a signed receipt or an acknowledgment of order can help.

The outcome hinges on the strength of your evidence. If the bank sides with the customer, the chargeback remains and the funds are permanently deducted from your account. But, with compelling evidence on your side, the bank might reverse the chargeback, restoring the amount to your account.

However, there’s more at stake than just the disputed amount. Frequent chargebacks tarnish a business’s reputation with credit card processors, which can affect their credit score. Over time, this can lead to higher processing fees or even a frozen merchant account.

Strategies to Minimize Chargebacks

From addressing merchant errors to educating staff about friendly fraud, there are a number of strategies merchants can use to minimize chargebacks. Read our article From Errors to Fraud: How Hotels and Restaurants Can Minimize Chargebacks to learn the best strategies to reduce chargebacks.

Furthermore, a robust POS system plays a pivotal role in the fight against chargebacks. These systems, particularly modern digital ones such as Veloce POS, can store transaction details and provide proof of transactions. In cases where customers dispute charges, the data logged by the POS can be the evidence that tilts the case in the merchant’s favor.

Discover Veloce POS

Navigating the intricate world of chargebacks can be daunting. But with the right tools, you can turn challenges into opportunities. Our advanced features not only streamline your transactions but also arm you with preventive measures against chargebacks. Why wait? Book a free demo today and witness firsthand how Veloce POS can help transform your business operations and safeguard your revenues.