Responding to “Merchandise Not as Described” Chargeback Claims

Chargeback Reason Code 53

Taking orders online and shipping the orders to customers might sound simple, but there are challenges. Customers expect products they receive to look exactly like the website pictures, match the descriptions provided on the website and to function accordingly. Descriptive information has to be clearly written so that there is no room for interpretation and any discrepancies between a photo and the actual product have to be available. Additionally, it should be easy for customers to find the website’s Terms and Conditions, and return, exchange and cancellation policies should be available in layman’s terms.

Merchandise not as Describe

When customers believe they have been misled the end result can be a transaction dispute claiming “merchandise not as described.”

A card issuer asks only one thing from a customer when they request a refund claiming the merchandise received was not as described: verbal confirmation that they attempted to resolve the issue with the merchant. If the customer answers “yes” then a chargeback is present with the official reason being “merchandise not as described.”

Merchants get the notification each time a chargeback is present. Also, each notification includes a reason code specific to the card brand network.  For example, Visa uses Reason Code 53 and MasterCard uses Reason Code 4853 to identify “merchandise not as described”chargebacks. These codes tell the merchant what the requirements are to present proof that the claim is invalid.

Along with letting card issuers know if they were no previous contact with the customer. Merchants need to make available the following documentation to fight chargebacks for “merchandise not as described” claims:

Merchandise received or service cancelled and transaction processed

Copies of communications and payment details.

Merchandise delivered was as described 

The printed copy of the website description and invoice details to prove the claim is invalid.

Merchandise delivered before cancellation

Copies of detailed documents that include the order date, dispatching date, product details and date of cancellation. It is to show that the customer cancels the order. But the cancellation was requested after the order was shipped and the merchandise has not yet been returned by the customer.

Merchandise not returned and services not cancelled  

Here, there is no paper trail to follow, so the merchant should inform the card issuer. And, it has no record of any communication from the customer with regard to returning merchandise or a cancellation request.

Merchandise returned and damaged 

Copies of documents showing that the merchandise was under repair. This may include details of communications with the customer and a description of the exact repairs in place.

Effective chargeback handling requires trained staff members who deal specifically with chargeback cases and having an in-house chargeback department may not be feasible for all eCommerce businesses. For those who would rather avoid the hassles of having in-house staff to deal with chargebacks, there are companies like

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Chargeback Reason Code


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