What Documentation Do Retailers Require of Suppliers When Disputing Chargebacks?
In 2016, RVCF developed the white paper Expediting the Investigation and Reconciliation of Deduction Claims. We surveyed merchandise suppliers to find out what information they need from retailers to research chargebacks, determine validity, and shorten time to resolution. In what was essentially Part 2 of this survey, we recently asked retailers what documentation they require from suppliers to have a chargeback overturned and deducted money paid back.
In the interest of full transparency, we didn’t get responses from as many retailers as we would have liked. However, we combined the responses we received with the guidelines offered by several retailers on their compliance sites to create a matrix of recommended supporting documentation for disputing common deductions. This matrix can be viewed here. While providing the recommended documents by no means guarantees the reversal of chargebacks, this document can serve as a valuable guideline to help suppliers better manage disputes.
Researching and disputing chargebacks is a major headache, and a potentially long and expensive process, for merchandise suppliers. They receive a chargeback. They research the chargeback to the best of their ability based on the information they have. They believe the chargeback is invalid. They take it up with the retailer within the proper time period but don’t provide all documentation required by the retailer.
This typically leads to one of two scenarios. In the first scenario, the supplier’s request to have the chargeback reversed is flat-out denied. Some retailers only give suppliers one opportunity to dispute a chargeback. If the supplier doesn’t provide all required information the first time, that’s the end of it. There is no appeal.
In the second scenario, the supplier gets into a back-and-forth situation with the retailer. The retailer received some but not all documentation required to conduct their own research. They go back to the supplier and say they need X, Y and Z. Of course, the retailer never said upfront that the supplier needs to provide X, Y and Z to dispute a chargeback.
So the supplier sends a second set of documents to the retailer, who then must piece together this information with the first set of documents. This creates a delay in resolving chargebacks on the supplier’s books. As long as the chargeback is out there with no resolution, it affects their days outstanding. Meanwhile, the retailer considers it a closed matter, claiming the supplier’s window for disputing the claim has expired.
At the conclusion of this back-and-forth between trading partners, suppliers often end up with invalid chargebacks that are never reversed because of all the hoops they have to jump through in order to get the retailer’s attention before time runs out.
More importantly, the issue that caused the chargeback is often left unaddressed, possibly resulting in repeat occurrences of the same issue.
A Simple Solution
Retailers should provide suppliers with a checklist of the specific documentation required to dispute each type of chargeback. This allows suppliers to get their ducks in a row and send all necessary documentation right away. Retailers can then review this information one time and make a timely decision. They can either say the chargeback is valid and clearly explain why, or concede that the chargeback should have never been issued and compensate the supplier.
Regardless of the outcome, the supplier is happy to get the deduction off the books as quickly as possible so it doesn’t affect days outstanding. The supplier can also address issues in their supply chain to prevent future errors. A checklist from the retailer helps to steer them in the right direction.
The retailer is also happy because they can deal with the dispute once and have it resolved quickly. Employees can focus on higher value tasks rather than researching and reconciling the same claims over and over. Retailers that provide a list of requirements that suppliers must follow to ship orders correctly should just go the extra mile to tell suppliers exactly what must be done to dispute a chargeback.
It’s a checklist. It’s not that hard. And it can go a long way to reducing the tension and animosity that can build during a prolonged dispute about a chargeback.
We invite more retailers to participate in the RVCF survey, which will allow us to provide deeper insights to suppliers and ensure more retailers receive the right documentation when suppliers dispute chargebacks. To request a link to access the survey, contact Susan Haupt at firstname.lastname@example.org.