Merchants who receive a chargeback for a transaction placed with a Mastercard card may encounter reason code 4999, which indicates an improperly authorized transaction that the cardholder does not believe they should be responsible for paying. The actual underlying cause of this chargeback is usually either friendly fraud or merchant error. Merchants who believe they have received an invalid chargeback under reason code 4999 may be able to represent the transaction and reverse the chargeback with the right compelling evidence.
What is Mastercard Chargeback Reason Code 4999?
Mastercard chargeback reason code 4999 falls under the “Point-of-Interaction Error” category. The shorthand description is “Domestic Chargeback Dispute (Europe Region Only).” This reason code is used when the cardholder claims that a transaction charged to their account was actually supposed to be a credit. This reason code is only used for disputes involving parties located in Mastercard’s European markets.
A generous and flexible refund policy is one of the most important ingredients in good customer service. Offering a refund is often the easiest way to resolve a customer’s problems, and can help you avoid disputes and chargebacks. True, you have to give up some revenue, but at least you don’t get hit with chargeback fees or a dangerous increase to your chargeback ratio.
However, few things will upset a cardholder more than seeing a transaction that was supposed to be a refund taking even more money out of their account. When this happens, the cardholder has chargeback rights, and will surely exercise them.
What Scenarios Might Lead to This Chargeback?
Usually, this chargeback happens because of merchant error. The merchant is trying to process a credit transaction to issue a refund, but because they are distracted or unfamiliar with their payment processing system, they run the transaction as a regular charge instead, debiting money from the customer’s account. Now the customer needs twice as much money returned to them—and at this point they will often write the merchant off and choose to deal with their issuing bank instead.
It’s possible to see this reason code used in friendly fraud, but it’s a fairly bold gambit.
As long as you have complete transaction records that specify the reason for the transaction and purchase details, you should be able to fight it.
What are the Important Timeframes?
Mastercard recommends that its cardholders file their dispute within 45 calendar days of placing the transaction. The acquirer and/or merchant have 45 calendar days to respond to this chargeback after it is filed.
How Can Merchants Fight this Chargeback Code?
Merchants can fight this chargeback if the cardholder’s claims are false. What constitutes compelling evidence sufficient to beat the chargeback will depend on the specific details provided by the cardholder and their issuing bank. Some possible relevant chargeback responses would include the following:
- Proof that the debit transaction was legitimate and that the customer agreed to and authorized it.
- Transaction receipts showing that the disputed transaction was posted correctly.
- Evidence that you have already provided a credit to the customer’s account to correct the error and refund them any money due.
How Can Merchants Prevent this Chargeback Code?
With close attention to detail and careful transaction processing, this type of chargeback should be easy enough to avoid. Your payment processing terminals and software should make it easy enough to tell what type of transaction you are entering and give you the opportunity to verify it before completion. When you catch yourself making this error immediately after submitting it, you may have an opportunity to quickly reverse the transaction without having to process an additional credit.
The following advice can help you prevent this kind of chargeback:
- When you assure a customer that a refund is coming, process it as soon as possible.
- If you accidentally make a duplicate or erroneous transaction, reverse it immediately or issue a credit to make up for it.
- Double check your calculations and the final refund amount before finalizing a credit transaction.
- Train your staff on the proper procedures for processing credits, debits, and transaction reversals.
About Mastercard Chargeback Reason Codes
Reason codes are alphanumeric codes that provide the justification for granting a chargeback. Pursuant to the Fair Credit Billing Act of 1974, cardholders have the right to dispute unauthorized or erroneous charges and issuing banks must reverse a disputed transaction of the cardholder’s claim is valid.
When a cardholder contacts their issuing bank to dispute a transaction and receive a chargeback, the dispute is assigned a reason code that most closely matches the substance of the cardholder’s claims. The reason code provides the merchant and other stakeholders in the dispute with a concise explanation for why a chargeback has been granted.
Each card network—Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover—defines and maintains their own unique set of reason codes, which are applied to disputes by the banks that issue credit and debit cards under their brands.
Mastercard specifies 21 reason codes under the categories of Fraud, Authorization, Point-of-Interaction Error, and Cardholder Disputes. Mastercard uses a four-digit numbering scheme for its chargeback reason codes.
Understanding chargeback reason codes is one of the most essential parts of effective chargeback management. Identifying the chargeback reason code and the evidence required to fight it is the first step in chargeback representment, and analyzing your chargeback reason codes can provide you with insights into what types of disputes are causing you the most trouble. With this information, you can determine the root causes of your chargebacks and take action to prevent them from reoccurring.