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May 25, 2023
by David Goodale

How to win a chargeback?

(Slightly edited from video transcript for greater readability)

Key Takeaways

Understanding Chargebacks
Chargebacks occur when customers dispute transactions and request a refund from their credit card company
Documentation and Evidence
Merchants should gather and organize all relevant transaction information, such as receipts, order details, shipping records, and communication history with the customer.
Effective Response and Representation
Crafting a well-written and persuasive response that addresses the specific reason code is crucial.
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Hello, David here at Today I'm going to tackle the topic of how on earth you win a chargeback. Stay tuned, we'll dig in, in one second.

You need to be prepared

file cabinet

Winning a chargeback is all about preparation. I'm going to get to the point in this video so people don't get five minutes in and be fustrated that you didn't give me the secret password to win the chargeback. There's no secret password to win the chargeback. It's mostly about preparation. If you're here because you're in the middle of a chargeback, there are things you can do. I do have a little advice in this video about how to organize the content, but it's a lot about preparation.


Let's start talking about the problems so you can start preparing. The main problem is that the card issuer doesn't know you and they don't care about you. Unfortunately they have all the decision-making power and I'm talking about the bank that gave the card to the cardholder. When you get a chargeback you upload your dispute explaining your side of the story. The processor only uploads that via Visa the like through the Visa / MasterCard network. Then the issuer reviews it.

legal dispute

Like I said, the problem is that they don't care about you the merchant. They care about their card holder. From the start, it's an uphill battle. If you're going to fight that battle, you need to know the reason and be very concise and accurate about like why you should win this chargeback.

Reasons for chargebacks

Let's start with the reason, the largest reason that merchants often run into chargebacks is fraud. If you get a chargeback and the reason for that chargeback is fraud, how can you prove it? If someone stole your credit card, bought a bunch of stuff online with it and it wasn't you, well then you shouldn't be stuck with that loss. That's not how the Visa / MasterCard card system works.

Friendly fraud

What you could win though is friendly fraud. That's where it's a person who did buy something, enjoyed the benefit of the service, and then turn around and say, I never bought this. Well, that is a problem but what can you do? How can you prove that the customer was them? One example might be if you're using, like if you have a type of service where you have to interact with your customer in person, which is rare but not rare for e-commerce businesses and you have documentation, you can show them physically taking delivery. Outside of that, it's coming back to the preparation, even a step before preparation. Particularly with fraud, it's better to spot those orders and don't let them through because you really can't win a fraud chargeback if it's fraud. I have other content on the channel about swatting and stopping fraud. You might want to check that out.

Non-delivery of service

visa code 13.1 Merchandise/Service Not Received

One of the other chargeback reasons is the non-delivery of service. Well, that's a much better one for you to be able to disprove because if a customer received the benefit of what they paid for and then they tried to get their money back, that's not fair.

Think of a gym membership. If they say, I didn't get what I paid for. Well, here's footage of you on our security cam using the gym equipment. You need to prove that the customer got something. Again, going back to my other example, showing that the customer took delivery that would prove that the service was rendered.

Another example is, let's say you have a digital service where you're giving monthly tips on relationship advice. It's like some newsletter or something, and you have a website where people log in and they access the newsletter. Well, if you have logs, you can show the access logs for the person. For example if they logged in 10 times last month and enjoyed the benefit of our service. You can prove that they got what they paid for.

Service not as described

visa code 13.3 service not as described

Now the next one is service not as described. Again, that's another one where you have to prove that the customer got what they paid for. I sound repetitive, but in this case, what you would lay out is in your terms and conditions, very clearly what the customer was supposed to receive. Then you prove that they received it. We give our customers these tips on, picking winning stocks and they got those tips, and so you just put together the case.

Thinking ahead

Now I'm going to move on to probably the more important step here. This is about thinking ahead. As you can see, I'm trying to help you think about your specific business and the type of disputes that are most likely to arise between you and your customers. You probably can think about your business and think of the most likely type of dispute. How can you tighten up your terms and conditions? How can you ensure delivery? Think about what you can do and don't let fraud slip through. If you do sell high-ticket items, really screen those very carefully because you can't just ship expensive stuff out the door. You have to take care of yourself. Now, here's the important bit. If you're already in a chargeback, be concise. I'm going to say it again. The issuer doesn't care about you.

Win in the first three sentences

If you try and win a chargeback, you have to win it in the first three sentences. That's how I approach it. I assume that it's going to some disinterested person who's not involved and doesn't care. They have a list of disputes on their desk to get through like this. You hit them over the head with it. You make it so clear that if a kindergarten child read this thing or had it read to them, they'd be like, this is crazy. We, the merchant, provided everything we were supposed to do. We have to win this chargeback. You make it that concise because you want them to read it. If you make it 600 pages long, it's not going to help you.


In conclusion, fighting chargebacks and fraud is very specific to the business. If you are prepared, it helps you be able to put together a better case. Then when you organize your case, be ultra-concise, hit them over the head, and do it at the top of the first page in the first 3 sentences. I hope if you came here looking for an answer on how to win a specific chargeback you're not frustrated with this video because it's too situationally specific. If you do have questions about a specific chargeback, reach out to us at There is no secret handshake or secret password, but we can help you navigate it. We can help you understand what the rules are and if you've done what you are supposed to do, then you can win that chargeback. As a very last note, if you do lose the chargeback because the card issuer decides with their card holder, even though you feel you've put together a really clear and compelling case and you think they have it wrong, you can send that case to Visa and MasterCard for arbitration. We have another video on our channel here about Visa and MasterCard arbitration. You pay a big chunk of money and then Visa steps in and mediates it. They're much more than MasterCard. They're a much more impartial party and the loser pays the several hundred dollars arbitration fee. That's not a video, that's not a topic for this video. I hope this was helpful. Have a great day there and thanks for watching. Bye now.

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David Goodale About the Author

My name is David Goodale, CEO at Merchant I launched our business in 2001 and have over 20 years of expertise in the field of online payments. If you have a payments related question or project, and especially if it relates to multi-currency or international e-commerce don't hesitate to contact me. I'm always happy to help with an honest opinion, and enjoy chatting with folks from interesting businesses.

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