Soon after launching, most businesses learn that the life cycle of a customer payment doesn’t stop after the initial transaction is completed—especially if the purchase was made with a credit or debit card. Refund requests, item exchanges, and chargebacks all require businesses to continue investing time, effort, and resources into completed sales long after the original transaction takes place.
Similarly, retrieval requests also require businesses to manage their payments and protect their revenue on the back end of a purchase. Retrieval requests and chargebacks can be a time-consuming headache for businesses to navigate—but ignoring them can be even more costly and damaging.
Since keeping your customers’ payment information secure and protecting your business against loss should be top concerns, it’s worth taking a few minutes to familiarize yourself with retrieval requests. Here’s what you need to know to respond to retrieval requests and understand what they mean for your business.
What’s in this article?
- What is a retrieval request?
- Retrieval requests vs. chargebacks
- Retrieval requests vs. refunds
- Reasons for retrieval requests
- How to respond to a retrieval request
- How much time do you have to respond to a retrieval request?
- What happens if you ignore a retrieval request?
- Retrieval fees
What is a retrieval request?
A retrieval request is a process by which a cardholder can inquire into a charge that appears on their account. Using retrieval requests, cardholders can ask for additional information about a transaction to determine its validity.
When a customer files a retrieval request, a few different things can happen:
- The cardholder’s issuer (the issuing bank) reaches out to the business’s bank (the acquirer, or acquiring bank) for the requested information.
- If the acquiring bank is unable to provide the information necessary to resolve the issue, they’ll inform the business, which will then have the chance to share information to verify the validity of the charge or to initiate a refund, if necessary.
- Sometimes, the customer will file an immediate chargeback even before the acquirer or business is contacted.
The response to a retrieval request depends on the financial institution that issued the card—different issuers have different policies related to how certain the cardholder is about the fraudulent nature of the charge. A retrieval request might be handled one way if, for example, the customer doesn’t remember a particular charge but thinks it could be an authorized transaction. It might be handled another way if the cardholder is certain they did not authorize the transaction or that the charge is a duplicate or other error on the business’s part.
Retrieval requests vs. chargebacks
A chargeback is a reversal of funds following a debit or credit card purchase, prompted when the customer files a dispute over the charge with their bank or credit card provider. Retrieval requests are not chargebacks, but typically they are considered to be a warning that can precede a chargeback. By giving businesses the opportunity to either issue a refund without being forced or respond with sufficient information to resolve the issue without a reversal of funds, retrieval requests provide businesses with an opportunity to stop a chargeback before it occurs.
Retrieval requests vs. refunds
The difference between a retrieval request and a refund is a matter of timing: when the funds are reversed. As you probably know, a refund is a seller-initiated reversal of funds following a transaction. In contrast, a retrieval request doesn’t necessarily mean that a charge will be reversed and funds will be returned to the cardholder. It means only that the acquirer and business are offered the chance to provide evidence to back up the legitimacy of a charge before any funds are reversed.
Reasons for retrieval requests
Retrieval requests happen for a variety of reasons, and some are easier to respond to effectively than others. Retrieval requests can be triggered by something as minor as an illegible receipt. They can also indicate a widespread security breach. No matter the cause, they’re worth paying close attention to.
Here are some of the most common reasons for retrieval requests:
- The customer doesn’t recognize the charge.
- The customer recognizes the charge, but believes it is a duplicate.
- The charge amount listed on the customer’s card statement doesn’t match the amount they remember agreeing to pay at the time of the transaction.
- The issuer believes the charge is fraudulent.
How to respond to a retrieval request
When you receive a retrieval request, it’s important to respond quickly and with abundant evidence to verify the legitimacy of the charge. Of course, it’s possible that the charge is genuinely fraudulent, in which case you’ll still want to respond and be an active participant in resolving the issue and flagging any other possible fraud your business might have been involved in, however unwittingly.
Below are some examples of the types of information frequently provided in response to a retrieval request:
- Invoice or receipt
- Order confirmation number
- Transaction amount
- Authorization code
- The customer’s name, IP address (if the purchase occurred online), and account number
- Full business details, including name, physical address, and website address
- Delivery information
- Service information (appointment confirmations, service reports, etc.)
- Proof of a refund, if a refund has already been given
- Any documents the cardholder signed related to the transaction, including the above items
Stripe users are able to respond to disputes directly from the Dashboard. Businesses can also reach out to customers upon receiving a retrieval request. There are a few key advantages to handling these situations with the customer, as opposed to communicating through your respective banks:
- Each customer interaction is an opportunity to cultivate brand affinity and loyalty—and dealing with disputes is no exception. You and your team can approach this conversation in a human and sympathetic way, demonstrating genuine concern and curiosity while showing the cardholder you are on their side and also want to see the matter resolved. No matter the outcome of the charge in question, you can walk away at the end having created a net-positive customer experience.
- In the event that you do need to reverse the charge, a refund is preferable to a chargeback. Talking directly to the customer gives you the chance to initiate a refund instead of getting hit with a chargeback.
How much time do you have to respond to a retrieval request?
The deadline to respond to a retrieval request is set by the card’s issuer. It varies by financial institution, but the time frame is usually 10–20 days after the original request is sent.
What happens if you ignore a retrieval request?
If you receive a retrieval request, and you either don’t respond to it or don’t respond within the established time frame, you will almost always get hit with a chargeback. In addition, you will effectively forfeit your ability to fight against the chargeback, since the retrieval request serves as your preemptive opportunity.
Clearly, it’s important to respond to retrieval requests in a timely manner. Chargebacks don’t only result in bank fees and lost revenue. An elevated chargeback rate can result in additional measures placed on your merchant account, such as having funds automatically withheld from your payouts to create a cash reserve for future chargebacks and retrieval requests.
Retrieval fees vary depending on which acquirer you use. Stripe charges a $15 fee for all disputes, including retrievals and chargebacks.