Dating Chargebacks - Tinder, Bumble and more...
When we meet a new couple for the first time, we often ask "how did you two meet?" For four out of ten of those couples, you could skip directly to asking "what dating site did you meet on?" The ascendancy of online dating should come as no surprise. It has been a tremendous boon for many people, enabling them to find romantic partners without relying on awkward blind dates set up by well-meaning family members or having to compete in the proverbial meat market of their local bar scene.
Many of the advantages of ecommerce have carried over to online dating—the breadth of choice, the ability to search according to specific criteria, the removal of geographical barriers—but instant fulfillment is not one of them. There's no guaranteed algorithm for finding love, and it's not uncommon for people to become frustrated with their lack of success in the online dating world. When this happens, it's easy to lay the blame the dating site or app itself, and chargebacks often follow.
Common Reason Codes
Dating site chargebacks follow predictable patterns. These are the most commonly-seen reason codes attached:
- Fraudulent Transactions
- Services Not Received
- Canceled Services
- Credit Not Processed
A typical scenario would be a dating site customer giving up on the site, forgetting that they signed up for recurring billing on an irregular schedule—many dating sites offer three or six month renewals. When the renewal charge hits, they dispute it as "fraudulent" or "already canceled." Customers will also dispute active subscriptions as "services not received" when they aren't having luck meeting people, and of course, any delay in a promised refund will often turn into a "credit not processed" chargeback.
How to Control These Chargeback Situations
When customers dispute transactions for emotional reasons such as disappointment or frustration, they aren't always thinking about the actual rules and evidence requirements. They feel like the narrative alone should be sufficient to compel the bank to reverse their charge, and they're not wrong: banks will almost always accept a dispute if pressed by the customer. But when a merchant submits representment of these chargebacks with the right evidence attached, they should expect to get their money back.
Building Your Paper Trail
Evidence is the key to beating these chargebacks, so you have to prepare for them ahead of time. That means carefully verifying customer information, making sure you've communicated your terms and conditions to them, and thoroughly documenting everything.The first step to fighting chargebacks is to make sure the cardholder can't plausibly claim that somebody else used their card. Turn on AVS/CVV matching in your payment gateway and don't process any transaction that contains a mismatch. Never complete any transaction where the authorization request was declined.
Some sites may be able to obtain additional protection by obtaining signed agreements with valid proof of ID from their customers, but this may be more feasible for serious matchmaking sites than it is for casual dating apps. You should require all customers to acknowledge your cancellation policy by clicking an "I accept" button during the checkout process.
You should also make sure to use clear merchant descriptors on billing statements (include the name of your app or site and a phone number or email address for customer service) to avoid any chargebacks resulting from confusion over unrecognized transactions.
Always save service logs and member access logs in case you need to reference them in the future (for instance, to prove that a customer was using your service during a disputed billing cycle).
Customer Service Saves the Day
Delivering excellent, proactive customer service can be the best way to prevent chargebacks from happening. If a disgruntled customer complains to you that they feel like they haven't gotten their money's worth from your service, it's always a better outcome to give them a refund and see them on their way than it is to stonewall them until they demand satisfaction from their bank.
But first, the customer has to be able to connect with your customer service. Make sure you clearly display customer service contact information on your website or in a visible part of your app.
Just remember, if a chargeback is already in progress, you don't want to initiate a refund at that point, as chances are very good that if the chargeback gets upheld, you'll end up losing double the transaction amount.
We always recommend providing a high level of supporting documentation as evidence to support your chargeback representments. While each case will have different criteria for what counts as compelling, relevant evidence, the following list should cover a wide range of chargebacks:
- Transaction receipt copy showing AVS/CVV match
- Order confirmation email
- Copy of signed agreement with customer
- Copy of customer ID
- Activity or access logs with date, timestamp, and customer IP address
- Email correspondence with customer (welcome email, login credentials, etc.)
- Text of checkout page, terms and conditions, refund and cancellation policy
Any chargeback based on false premises can potentially be beaten and recovered with the right evidence. Clear communications, thorough documentation, and meticulous record retention can go a long way toward protecting you from invalid disputes.
We're sympathetic to consumers who get upset when a lengthy investment in a dating site doesn't result in a happy relationship. Of all the activities people engage in over the internet, few are more emotionally fraught than online dating. But for every person who strikes out on a dating site, there's somebody else who just met the love of their life. Dating sites can't continue providing the services they do if they're drowning under illegitimate chargebacks.