What Does a “Not as Described” Chargeback Reason Code Mean?

Tips for Managing a “Not as Described” Chargeback

Chargebacks exist as a way for consumers to dispute a transaction they believe is fraudulent, or for which the cardholder believes he or she has been provided with inadequate service.

Originally designed to prevent cardholders from falling prey to dishonest merchants, chargebacks have become a source of frustration for merchants, who are often unaware of any issues until their bank account is debited for the transaction. Each chargeback is assigned a reason code to designate the reason for the chargeback. This is intended to alert the merchant to the source of the problem with the transaction in question.

One of the more commonly returned reason codes is “Not as Described”—but what does it really mean?

Exploring “Not as Described” Chargebacks

A “Not as Described” reason code is intended to identify a purchase in which the cardholder receives merchandise that does not match the transaction documentation. This can happen for a few different reasons:

  • Merchandise is incorrectly described by the merchant
  • The product received is different than what the customer ordered
  • The cardholders receive counterfeit merchandise sold as genuine
  • Merchandise that is damaged or defective
  • Changes were made to the terms of the sale or return policy without the cardholder’s consent

Because the “Not as Described” reason code has such wide variability and interpretation, it’s no surprise that it is so widely used.

In some cases, cardholders filing “Not as Described” chargebacks may be legitimate customers who have experienced merchant error or who have been the victim of merchant fraud. Unfortunately, the reality is that a majority of not as described chargebacks are simply another form of friendly fraud.

Is There a Way to Dispute These Chargebacks?

Merchants wishing to dispute “Not as Described” chargebacks must determine the specific requirements of the card network involved. Each network has its own set of dispute requirements, such as the amount of time available to file disputes and the information that must be provided as evidence.

However, regardless of the network, merchants must ensure that they maintain adequate documentation pertaining to transactions. This includes such items as:

  • Proof of authenticity
  • Verification of delivery
  • Receipt of services
  • Evidence of the merchant’s attempt to correct any discrepancies

With chargeback disputes, the burden of proof is on the merchant. This transaction information is all evidence which will be necessary in order to build a successful case and demonstrate that the cardholder is actually just attempting friendly fraud.

How Can Merchants Prevent These Chargebacks?

Merchants cannot prevent unscrupulous behaviour on the part of cardholders intent on committing fraud. However, it is possible for merchants to ensure that they are providing customers with the documentation and descriptions necessary for them to make informed decisions. By offering shoppers a full disclosure, merchants minimise their risk of chargebacks resulting from merchant error.

Because merchant error can be difficult to self-diagnose, the best method for preventing friendly fraud is to seek outside help.

If you’re interested in additional assistance with “Not as Described” chargebacks, or any other questions related to chargebacks and friendly fraud, contact us today.