Whether a client unilaterally decided not to pay your firm, or you made a legitimate mistake in your billing process, disputes or chargebacks on credit card transactions do occur. The card brands have processes in place for settling these disputes, and this article outlines the actions your firm can take after receiving notice of a chargeback. For information on how to avoid chargebacks, see How to Protect Your Law Firm from Chargebacks.
You Received a Chargeback Notification...Now What?
Do not issue additional refunds to the client
In most cases, the client has already received the disputed amount from their card-issuing bank, and your account has already been debited.
Gather information about the transaction
Determine the client name (and cardholder name if paid by another party), transaction amount and date.
Identify the reason for the chargeback
Each chargeback reason code requires specific documentation to effectively dispute the chargeback.
Chargeback Reason Codes:
This is a guide to managing chargebacks on your own. If your firm is processing payments through Gravity Legal, our support team will reach out to you within 24 hours of chargeback notification. We will then help you decide whether to dispute the chargeback, compile and submit the documentation, and keep you up to date on the status of the dispute.
Let us handle your law firm’s chargebacks
Decide whether to dispute the chargeback
The chargeback may have been caused by a billing error on the part of your firm, so you may choose not to dispute it. To avoid these situations in the future, ask the client why they didn’t call your office to inquire about a refund before issuing the chargeback.
If the amount is small enough, it may not be worth your time to gather the required documents for the dispute.
If you believe the chargeback was unjustified and the amount is large enough to warrant your time and effort, it’s time to gather supporting documentation to file a dispute.
Gather supporting documentation
The supporting documentation must be specific to the chargeback reason code. For example, if a chargeback occurred because a client claimed they did not receive services, your supporting documents should prove they did receive services. This could include:
- Engagement agreements
- Email communication
- Fixed fee or subscription legal services agreement
- Proof of services rendered
Exercise caution when providing documentation. This documentation will be shared with the card networks and in some cases, the client’s card-issuing bank. Do not provide any information that would be considered a breach of your ethical obligations.
Include a letter that outlines your dispute and the reason the funds should be returned to your firm.
Include information on the card transaction, such as an address or zip code match response (AVS response).
Submit supporting documentation
The chargeback notice will contain instructions on how and when to submit the documentation.
You get one chance to upload or mail the documentation, so ensure your packet is complete.
Monitor the status of the dispute
Once you submit the supporting documentation, the card networks will acknowledge receipt of your reversal request. It may take several weeks before they issue a decision.
Assess the decision
If the decision is in your favor, the funds will be returned to your bank account, and you don’t need to take any further action.
If your reversal request was denied, you can choose to pursue the issue further through the card networks. The next phase of the process is arbitration, and if the card networks decide in the cardholder’s favor again, you may be assessed fees of $450 or more.
If the reversal request is denied, you may also choose to pursue the matter directly with the client outside of the card network process.
Dealing with a Chargeback?
Download a PDF of this article to use as your checklist