How to Handle Stripe Disputes in E-commerce

How to Handle Stripe Disputes in E-commerce

As your online store grows and attracts more customers, so does the risk of facing Stripe disputes. 

Disputes can lead to discrepancies and add more challenges to your accounting routine. How to deal with the dispute depends on the payment processor you use. With Stripe being among the most popular sales channels for e-commerce businesses globally, the question of resolving Stripe disputes is worth your attention.

This article will help you get prepared for Stripe disputes and keep your business losses to a minimum in a worst-case scenario.

Contents:

1. What are Stripe disputes?

2. How do Stripe disputes work?

3. How to measure your disputes: Stripe dispute rate and Stripe dispute activity

4. Best tips on how to win Stripe disputes

5. How are Stripe disputes reflected in accounting?

What are Stripe disputes?

You might think that dealing with customers who dispute charges is the most difficult task for an e-commerce business. But in reality, with Stripe, you don’t need to build a whole new system for dealing with disputes. You just need to know how to use standard Stripe dispute handling tools effectively. 

There’s a special notification from Stripe that alerts businesses when their customers submit a form in which they inform Stripe about their decision not to pay for goods and services. A business has to be able to respond to these disputes.

Stripe disputes, or so-called Stripe chargeback/inquiry/retrieval, take place when the customer (a cardholder) questions a payment with your e-commerce business and lets the bank decide how to solve the conflict. 

Stripe Dispute Fees

When your business receives a dispute, the payment amount plus a separate Stripe dispute fee levied by the card network are deducted from your account balance. This procedure is intended to help protect cardholders and discourage dishonest or fraudulent business practices.

Stripe dispute fees vary by region. In the USA, the dispute fee is $15. 

📌 Note: If you win the dispute, Stripe will refund the fee to your account. 

Stripe dispute categories

Why might your client want to open a Stripe dispute with your online store? Customers might dispute payments for many reasons, such as goods not arriving, services not being performed as promised or fraud prevention programs detecting possible chargeback risk. Here is the list of possible reasons that fall into specific Stripe dispute categories:

  • Credit not processed
  • Duplicate 
  • Fraudulent
  • General
  • Product not received
  • Product unacceptable 
  • Subscription canceled
  • Uncategorized 

How do Stripe disputes work?

Every card network has its own way of working with the disputed amounts. For example, PayPal or Amazon Pay will differ from Stripe in terms of how they deal with disputes. Still, all of them follow a similar pattern.

Here is how to handle Stripe disputes.

Step 1: Filing a Stripe dispute

The customer has to make the first move to activate the process. While it’s always better to not have to deal with disputes, they are a regular part of running an e-commerce business, so it’s best to stay calm and wait for the next step – notification. 

Step 2: Online notification

As a merchant, you receive a dispute notification from Stripe through email or your Stripe account. The transaction amount and a Stripe dispute fee are debited from your Stripe account and put on hold till the settlement of the dispute.

What can you do? The options are simple:

  • Submit evidence;
  • Accept dispute;
  • Do nothing.

Step 3: Stripe dispute evidence

The most common decision made by the majority of businesses in such situations is to regain the transaction amount and provide evidence that can negate the customer’s claims. Typically, you start with reviewing the information you have on the customer who submitted the dispute case and the details of the purchase in question.

How to submit evidence for Stripe dispute

In most cases, you can challenge a dispute by submitting compelling evidence corresponding to the Stripe dispute reason (you can check all of them above). 

📌 Note: You can submit only one piece of evidence per category.

Take into account these small tips from Stripe

  • Keep your evidence relevant;
  • Include a clear screenshot for accurate evidence; 
  • Include proof of customer authorization;
  • Include proof of service or delivery. 

Step 4: Bank reviews

At this point you wait for the bank to check the evidence you’ve provided and make a final decision.

Step 5: Bank decision

The final arbiter reviews the evidence and makes a final decision either in your favor or in the favor of the customer. 

If the bank overturns the dispute (you win), the full amount including Stripe dispute fees is reversed to your Stripe account.

If the bank upholds the dispute (you lose), the client is sent the transaction amount, and Stripe holds onto the dispute fees.

How long does a Stripe dispute take?

Stripe disputes typically occur within 120 days of the original payment. Usually, you have  7-21 days to respond with the necessary documents. 

After submitting evidence, the bank also has a limited time to respond (60-75 days).

As you can see, Stripe disputes typically take no less than 2-3 months, from filing a dispute to the bank’s final decision. 

How to measure your disputes: Stripe dispute rate and Stripe dispute activity

Stripe Dashboard displays two different calculations to measure your disputes: dispute activity and dispute rate. 

Stripe dispute activity

Stripe dispute activity represents the % of disputes on successful payments by dispute date. If the dispute activity for your business exceeds the thresholds set by the card brands (usually above 0.75%), you might be subject to fines. 

Stripe dispute rate

Stripe dispute rate represents the % of disputes on successful payments by charge date. With this calculation, you can see a particular sale that resulted in more disputes than usual or pick out fraud attack patterns. 

Best tips on how to win Stripe disputes

Disputes are unpleasant both for customers and for merchants. They can be closed in favor of either, entailing losses for the other side of the Stripe dispute. No wonder that the best way to manage them is to prevent them from happening altogether and consequently avoid a chargeback. But if you find a dispute notification in your Stripe account, here are the best things to do.

Tip 1: Communicate with your customer

It’s always a good idea to reach out to your customer first and get more information about the reason for the Stripe dispute. After all, they could have opened it by mistake! So contact the customer when you receive a dispute, discuss the issue, and collect more details on the potential problem before you respond with Stripe disputes evidence.

Tip 2: Collect detailed payment information during checkout

At the next step, you’ll have to provide details on the charged transactions as evidence to close the dispute in your favor. Some Stripe disputes are lost because only the minimum information was required during checkout and merchants failed to provide sufficient backup for the validity of the charged amount.

It’s best to provide relevant payment information which, among others, includes:

  • customer name
  • e-mail address
  • product name
  • shipping address

To fulfill this task successfully, you need to keep your financial information in order. The right accounting integration may be of great help here as it will record the necessary data correctly.  

Synder works smoothly with Stripe, ensuring seamless data flow with perfectly recorded transaction details that never get lost in your accounting system.

Tip 3: Improve your refund policies

In case of a Stripe dispute, there must be reasonable evidence that your customer was presented with a full copy of your policies prior to their purchase. You may want to provide a full version of your terms & policies on the checkout page or as a pop-up with a requirement to agree to them prior to submitting the order. 

Tip 4: Use delivery tracking services

When shipping goods to customers, use services that provide online tracking and delivery confirmation. Share this information with your customers as soon as it becomes available. You can use screenshots of the tracking information as Stripe dispute evidence later.

How are Stripe disputes reflected in accounting?

One of the biggest issues that disputes create for e-commerce accounting is the freezing of the disputed amounts and the unclear status of the transaction.

Synder is an accounting automation solution that helps e-commerce businesses to ease the pain of dealing with such issues. Once you connect your Stripe account and adjust the settings, the software automatically synchronizes all transaction details into your accounting, eliminating errors during data migration.

As soon as Stripe confirms the settlement of the dispute, the transactions will be synced, and the same-name status will appear. The disputed transaction will be recorded as Adjustment in Synder. 

After your Stripe dispute is resolved, there are two ways that the disputed transaction could end up being recorded in your accounting system:

  1. If you lose the Stripe dispute, this transaction will go to Expenses.

If you lose the dispute, Synder will record an expense for the Chargeback withdrawal plus another expense line for the Stripe Dispute Fee.

  1. If you win the Stripe dispute, this transaction will go to Deposits.

If you win, you’ll see the Chargeback Reversal reflecting the disputed amount of the sale and Stripe Dispute Fee Reversal amount in your accounting.

Multicurrency Stripe disputes and discrepancies in accounting

If the chargeback is for a transaction that originally was processed in a foreign currency, the amount of a dispute can sometimes change due to currency conversion, as Stripe will withdraw the amount in the home currency, not in the currency of the initial payment. Synder keeps track of the exchange rates provided by Stripe and can adjust exchange rates. 

Discrepancies due to chargebacks are quite common, but Synder helps to detect them and put detailed records in your accounting. The solution easily identifies gaps and missing data so that you can get accurate reconciliation, perfect P&L and balance sheet statements.

Summary

When you process payments with Stripe, you risk being exposed to chargebacks — when a customer disputes a charge and asks their credit card company to give the money back. A chargeback can result from a variety of circumstances, but most commonly it happens when a customer claims they didn’t recognize a transaction on their statement or that they were in some way misled about the cost of goods or services. When this happens, Stripe will initiate a dispute process. If you understand how it works and what to expect, you won’t be caught off guard by these events.

Stripe disputes can be challenging for e-commerce business owners to deal with in terms of accounting. But using accounting automation products like Synder makes the management of Stripe disputes faster, easier, and stress-free.

Anastasia Su

Anastasia Su

Anastasia is a FinTech writer with experience working as a freelance writer for small business owners. She has participated in numerous events dedicated to business management and marketing. Anastasia is inspired by the fact that each successful business is a result of proper structuring so she tries to analyze every step and wants to share her observations with others.

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