What is a chargeback?

Disputes and chargebacks are an unfortunate aspect of accepting payments online and the best way to manage them is to prevent them from happening at all. An effective dispute and fraud prevention strategy uses a number of methods that are best suited for your event while keeping any customer and event burden—and losses—to a minimum.

If a paid event participant does not receive what they believe they purchased from an event, or that an event may be fraudulent, the participant can file a dispute with their credit card's issuing bank to try and get their money back. At this point, the event’s bank account will be debited the amount of the transaction that was previously credited. The event must then provide compelling evidence to disprove any fraudulent activity associated with the transaction. If the issuing bank deems the evidence enough to overturn the cardholder’s dispute, the funds are returned to the event. If the cardholder still believes he was the victim of fraud, he can initiate a second chargeback, also called pre-arbitration.

When accepting online payments using credit cards, disputes & chargebacks are unfortunately not preventable and when they happen, the burden and costs falls of dealing with them typically fall on the event organizer. Stripe (ClearEvent's payment processor) charges a $15 fee for each dispute received. 

Disputes & chargeback causes & how to avoid them

There are a number of reasons why a dispute (or chargeback) can occur. Common reasons are as follows:

Rescheduled Events

Hey, it happens! Rescheduling an event is often unavoidable and is the most common reason you may receive disputes and chargebacks.

If you reschedule your event and you have a firm "no refunds" policy, participants that may not be able to attend the rescheduled event will often call their credit card issuer to request a refund and state that either the product they purchased was not delivered to them, or they may also feel your event is fraudulent (even if it is not).

We understand that rescheduling an event is sometimes unavoidable so to avoid disputes here are some recommendations you should follow:

  1. When rescheduling your event, update your Event Date in ClearEvent to the new date ASAP. While you may have updated the event start/end date elsewhere, or communicated the new event date by email, it's important to update your event start/end date in ClearEvent so that it shows up correctly on your Event Portal to your participants. To change the event date, open the event using the Event Manager App and then go to the Event Setup section > General tab and change the Start Date & End Date fields to the new event date.
  2. Determine if you wish to reopen registration for the newly scheduled event date. If so, open the event using the Event Manager App and go to the Forms section > Edit Form > Settings tab and adjust the Form Open & Close Date fields.
  3. Adjust your Schedules to reflect the new event date. To adjust the schedule dates, open the event using the Event Manager App and then go to the Schedules section > Schedule Details and change the Start Date/End Date fields for each Schedule Line Item field to be relative to the new event date.
  4. If you have a firm "no refunds" policy, it is highly recommended that you relax your refund policy to still allow refunds to be requested by your participants in the situation where your event is rescheduled. Alternately, you can allow tickets to be transferred to another person in the situation when the event is rescheduled. Learn more about setting your refund policy.
  5. Communicate, communicate, communicate. It's super important to clearly communicate to all participants when your event is being rescheduled. You can use the Messages module in ClearEvent to easily send an email message to all event participants. Be honest about the reason the event is being rescheduled (mother nature, low attendance, safety, or some other inability to deliver) . You should include clear steps that describe how your participants can request a refund, or what they can expect next. Sending regular updates to your paid participants will help to minimize the number of potential disputes.
  6. If possible, avoid rescheduling the event too far in the future. This will often result in disappointed participants who will issue chargebacks because they will either have to wait too long, or may believe your event is fraudulent.

Cancelled Events

There are situations that often cause an event to be cancelled. Unfortunately, when you cancel an event, if you have a firm "no refunds" policy, you almost certainly will receive chargebacks from participants that feel they did not receive what they purchased. This can happen even if you have clearly expressed your "no refunds" policy on your registration form. Regardless, it's still important that your event has a clear refund policy as this will give you the best chance to provide dispute evidence to reverse any received chargebacks.

To minimize chargebacks when you cancel your event, follow the suggestions listed under the "Rescheduled Events" section above.

Bad Event Experience

There is always the chance that some of your event participants that attend your event may not have received the experience that they believe they paid for. In this situation, participants may also issue a chargeback through their credit card issuing bank after your event is over when they feel they did not receive what they paid for. 

To avoid this situation, it's again best to include in your refund policy how a participant should go about resolving their issue. Often participants don't know who to contact, so they simply call their credit card's issuer bank to issue a chargeback instead of reaching out to the event organizer first. By specifying a Refund Policy on your registration forms that contains this detail, the participant will receive a copy of the Refund Policy in their registration confirmation email. 

In some cases, you may also be able to resolve the issue directly with the participant by issuing a partial refund, or some other form of compensation or apology.

Tips to avoid disputes and help challenge disputes

  • Always send a copy of the Registration Confirmation Email to your Event Admins. Be sure to keep these emails until your event is over and until you're confident that you won't receive any further disputes. These emails can serve as evidence in any dispute you may receive. To have a copy of the Registration Confirmation Email sent to all Event Admins, in the Event Manager App, go to the Forms section > Edit Form > Settings tab and select the Send Notification checkbox.
  • Use a separate Stripe Account for each event you run. ClearEvent does not recommend using a personal Stripe account, a Stripe account that's associated with another business or that may be hooked into another online service that is transacting payments through Stripe. This will make it easier to understand where the disputed charge originated.
  • Be available. While some small number of participants might immediately issue a chargeback when they don’t recognize a charge on their statement or feel they didn't receive what they purchased from your event, most will actually take the time to contact you. However, you need to make sure you have at least one easy way for those customers to get in touch with you. That means putting up an email address or phone number on your event website and also on your Event Portal and then responding quickly. We also recommend including this refund contact information on your registration form in the Refund Policy section (as this will also be shown in the email confirmation).
  • Banks can be very specific about how policies are presented to your customers. If you have a checkbox on your registration form that your customer must accept which only contains a link to your refund policy, this can often be rejected by the bank as satisfactory evidence that your customer had been aware of your policies. There must be reasonable evidence that your customer was presented with a full copy of your policies prior to their purchase in order to successfully win a dispute claim.
  • Require a registrant to agree to your terms of service & refund policies. We also recommend that you add a checkbox field to your registration form that asks the participant to explicitly agree to your refund policy before they can register. It's important to provide your refund policy in full text on the registration form using the Refund Policy field (found on the Form Designer > Settings tab).
  • Make sure to include lots of detail when setting up your registration forms. When participants pay to attend your event, they need to know exactly what they can expect and what they have purchased.

    If you leave your registration form's fee descriptions, or product descriptions vague, it leaves an opportunity for a participant to expect something that you never intended to offer. Make sure to describe exactly what's included.

    For example, let's say have a form where you charge VIPs to register for your event. At a minimum, you'll want to modify the Additional Details field to include your Terms & Conditions, and the Refund Policy field to describe your event refund policy. 

You'll also want to modify the fee Description field any fee on your form to describe what the fee includes:

The information you setup on your registration form will then appear to your participants on your published registration form like so:

Registrants who have successfully registered with your event will also receive a registration confirmation email containing the following information:

  • Event Name
  • Event Date
  • Event Website
  • Event Location
  • Registration Details
  • Registrant Name
  • Registration Reference #
  • Form Description
  • Payment Details
  • Payment Model (Online or Offline)
  • Fee Names
  • Purchased Products
  • Credit Card Descriptor Statement
  • Additional Details
  • Payment Instructions
  • Refund Policy
  • Registrant Name
  • Event Contact Info

Example Registration Confirmation Email

Handling Disputes

If you receive a dispute, Stripe will notify you through your Stripe Dashboard. ClearEvent does not get involved in the dispute process. You'll need to use the Stripe dashboard to handle the dispute and provide any evidence if you wish to challenge a received dispute.

Stripe recommends that you should respond to a dispute within the Stripe Dashboard. The Dashboard guides you through the submission process, step-by-step—automatically formatting the information you provide. You’re asked to provide different pieces of evidence and upload any necessary files, depending on the dispute type. All this works to increase the likelihood of a dispute being found in your favor.

When submitting evidence for the dispute, we recommend that you attach the following:

  1. A copy of the Registration Confirmation Email that ClearEvent sends to all Event Admins when a participant registers for the event and the Send Notifications setting is turned on for the Form.
  2. Proof that the participant attended your event. If you use the Participant Check-In feature of ClearEvent to help you track who has attended your event, you can take a screenshot of their check-in status from the Event Manager App > Participants section > Participant Details screen > Overview tab. Alternately, if you have other on-site check-in procedures that require the participant to sign a waiver, you can scan and attach a copy of a signed waiver from the participant that issued the dispute.

For more information on how to handle disputes in Stripe read

If you have questions about the dispute resolution process, please contact Stripe Support directly. 

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