At the 2022 International Car Rental Show in April, Marty Williams of Chargeback Gurus presented a session titled "Winning Customer Payment Disputes the Smart Way" with Sandra Coyle of Fox Rent a Car. Here are some of the top takeaways from the presentation. 

Knowing when to fight and when to sit it out is important to define before wasting time, money, and energy during payment disputes. - Photo: Ahmad Ardity/Pixabay

Knowing when to fight and when to sit it out is important to define before wasting time, money, and energy during payment disputes.

Photo: Ahmad Ardity/Pixabay

In the car rental industry, chargebacks can be a significant drain on revenue. In addition to the transaction reversal, they come with additional fees and hidden costs and can lead to even greater consequences if certain chargeback thresholds (0.9%) are exceeded.

Fox Rent-a-Car has worked with Chargeback Gurus for the last three years to reduce chargebacks it receives and fight those unethical chargebacks more successfully. At the 2022 International Car Rental Show (ICRS), Sandra Coyle of Fox Rent-a-Car and Marty Williams representing Chargeback Gurus showed attendees the strategies they employ to manage chargebacks effectively and maximize revenue recovery.

The chargeback process works as follows.

Chargeback

  1. The cardholder disputes a charge.
  2. The issuing bank grants a chargeback.
  3. The merchant chooses to accept the chargeback or fight it.

Representment

  1. If fighting the chargeback, the merchant submits evidence.
  2. The issuing bank decides to reverse or uphold the chargeback.

Pre-Arbitration/Second Chargeback

  1. The bank may reopen the case based on information from the cardholder.
  2. The merchant may accept the chargeback or present new evidence.

Arbitration

  1. The merchant can appeal an improper decision to the card network.
  2. The card network will make a final decision on the case.

Winning Chargebacks

According to Chargeback Gurus data, car rental companies who fight chargebacks in-house only win 37% of the time on average. By contrast, Fox Rent-a-Car is winning 79% of its chargebacks. In addition, car rental companies are often fighting less than half of their chargebacks, while Fox Rent-a-Car is fighting 91% of them.

Part of the reason for this is that Fox Rent-a-Car has made every effort to ensure that customers are served appropriately, thereby reducing legitimate chargebacks.

“It’s very important to understand...when to fight and when not to, and what processes you can change to ensure you win more,” Coyle said.

The three main challenges faced by the car rental industry when it comes to chargebacks are:

  1. Chargebacks from no-show clients.
  2. Customers disputing incidental charges.
  3. Improving customer service and transparency.

It's important to have as much documentation as possible to use as evidence when fighting chargebacks.

Pay attention to win rates and reason codes more than anything else, Marty Williams, Chargeback Gurus, advises attendees at a 2022 ICRS session. - Photo: Ross Stewart, RMS3Digital

Pay attention to win rates and reason codes more than anything else, Marty Williams, Chargeback Gurus, advises attendees at a 2022 ICRS session.

Photo: Ross Stewart, RMS3Digital

“Any time you communicate with a customer, it’s imperative that your system has a date/time stamp,” Coyle said.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, the cardholder themselves aren’t documenting any of the conversation, so your documentation is going to trump their verbal response.

Companies can create invoices for any additional charges on a rental. When a car needs to be cleaned, for example, you can create a separate invoice with details on the cleaning to prove that the service was performed.

Coyle added that Fox Rent-a-Car includes photos of the area that needed to be cleaned along with the invoice, providing conclusive evidence to fight any chargeback that occurs due to the extra charge.

Preventing Chargebacks and Improving Customer Retention

Every chargeback tells a story, so if you’re watching your chargebacks and understanding why they’re occurring and you start seeing the same stories over and over again, well, now you know you’ve got a perfect opportunity to do something about it.

We recommend that companies look for parts of their business processes or their customer journeys that may be leading to chargebacks and make changes to reduce or eliminate these issues.

If you go ahead and make those changes, not only are you going to lower your exposure to chargebacks, but you’re going to increase customer satisfaction across the board. Not all of your customers are going to file a chargeback. They’ll just decide not to rent from you again.

Chargeback data can be used by other parts of a company. When aiming to improve your net promoter score, for example, data from chargebacks can provide information on customers that might not be contacting you about their negative experiences.

Coyle said that Fox-Rent-a-Car uses chargeback data to identify locations where employees might not be communicating with customers effectively. Even if the company can fight those chargebacks and win, addressing the customer service issues that are causing them leads to better results in the long term.

The Cost of Chargebacks

Here's a breakdown of the various fees associated with chargebacks:

  • Chargeback fees: Usually $15-$25, but can be as high as $50.
  • Pre-arbitration: Merchants may be assessed an additional chargeback fee.
  • Arbitration: The losing party is charged $500.

While Fox Rent-a-Car maintains a chargeback ratio of 0.42%, the average for the car rental industry is 0.75%.

Visa sets a maximum threshold for a merchant’s chargeback ratio at 0.9%. When that limit is exceeded, what happens next may depend on the size of the company. Large companies are often put into a monitoring program that requires them to take specific actions over a period of time and clear certain hurdles in regard to reducing their chargeback ratios. Smaller companies may not be given the same leeway, and payment processors sometimes cut them off without much warning.

Chargeback Prevention Tips

Digging into more specific problems and solutions, in our ICRS session, we talked about how issues with authorization can lead to chargebacks, especially when dealing with overstays. Coyle said that Fox Rent-a-Car makes sure to conduct timely authorization only-transactions for reservations and deposits. When an overstay occurs, the company submits a new authorization and contacts the customer by phone, text message, and email.

It's important to notify customers when they incur additional charges and itemizing those charges to ensure they’re understood. But using a single line item for “incidentals and extras” can confuse customers and lead them to file chargebacks.

Coyle said that Fox Rent-a-Car lists all the various types of additional charges in the rental agreement and has the customer initial each one. This helps ensure that customers remember agreeing to these charges when they’re incurred. This practice also gives the company strong evidence to fight any chargebacks where the customer claims they were overcharged.

Companies can examine their chargebacks to determine what clauses in their contract they might want to have customers separately initial. For online transactions, capture the customer’s IP address as well as conducting AVS and CVV confirmation. This information can be used as evidence if a chargeback occurs.

Customers need to feel you’re being transparent with them. Even if your terms were clearly laid out before the transaction, if the customer feels tricked or misled, they may go to their bank to file a chargeback. Then you’ve lost both a sale and a customer.

Greater transparency reduces chargebacks, increases brand loyalty and keeps customers coming back.

About the Author: Mike Cannon is a content writer for Chargeback Gurus, providing expertise on chargebacks, payments, and fraud. He can be reached at mike.cannon@chargebackgurus.com.

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