Slate Payments - Disputes
  • 15 Nov 2023
  • 3 minute read
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Slate Payments - Disputes

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Article Summary

Introduction

Sometimes, after a payment is made, the cardholder seeing the charge on their account statement and not recognizing it, will call their bank or credit card issuer to dispute the charge. Additionally, a payer might also dispute a payment as a way to get around a no-refund policy. When a cardholder or bank account owner disputes a payment, this is initiated between the payer and their bank/card issuer. There is nothing Slate can do to prevent that!

The process

When a payment is disputed, a notification is sent from the processor to Slate. The dispute will be reflected both in the payment activity on the student record, and in the Payment History. In addition to a 'Disputed' item, the Payment History will show a "Refund" event. This does not reflect an actual refund to the cardholder at this point, but rather the funds being removed from your connected account (i.e. your Slate Payments Deposit account). The funds are placed in escrow while the bank investigates the dispute. The amount removed includes the $15 dispute fee.

The card issuer or bank will investigate the disputed payment. This can take weeks or several months. When the investigation concludes, they will either decide in the cardholder's favor (in which case the funds will be refunded to the payer at that point, and a Payment Refunded activity will be added to the student's record). In this scenario we will also add a 'Dispute Lost' item to the payment history. Alternatively, the bank will decide in the institution's favor, in which case a new "Received" event will show in the payment history (along with a 'Dispute Won' item) to reflect that the funds have been reinstated from escrow back into your account.

Note: For online payments where no physical goods are being shipped, it is common for the dispute to be resolved in favor of the payer.

Preventing disputes

We take several steps to try to prevent these disputes, and especially lost disputes, from occurring:

  • First, we add a warning to the email sent when the payment succeeds, so that the student or applicant can make sure the account holder is aware (as they oftentimes are not the same person, especially for pre-college or undergraduate programs and admissions processes).

  • Second, we allow you to set the 'name' that shows on the credit card statement, thus increasing the likelihood that the charge will be familiar to the payer. Make sure to set a recognizable name for your statement descriptor via your deposit account settings.

  • Third, when a dispute is opened, we automatically send an update to the processor (which is passed on to the bank or credit card company) with 'supporting evidence' explaining the nature of the charge (see also below).

  • Fourth, when a dispute is opened, we send an email notification to the student asking them to contact the payer/cardholder (who can call the bank or credit card company and close/drop the dispute). If that happens, the applicant should forward the official letter of withdrawal to you. See this article which will detail the content of automatically configured mailings, and the cases in which automatic Slate Payments emails can be customized.

  • In addition, if the charge does end up being automatically refunded, we'll send an email both to the student and to you at that time. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent payment disputes altogether.

Dispute evidence

By default, when a dispute is opened, we send the following text as 'additional information' to the payment processor as part of the 'dispute evidence' (which is then passed to the bank or credit card issuer):

Payments for college/university applications, admissions events, or tuition deposits are often paid by relatives of the student and disputes sometimes occur because they don't recognize the charge later. We've contacted the student and asked them to contact the payer to verify that the charge was intended. Additionally, tuition deposits are intended to hold a place in a class when enrolling and as such are never refundable (and all payers are informed of this).

However, you can (and should) replace this default text, for a given payment type (aka payment_account) to suit your needs, when you use the Application Editor to configure the payment page for Slate Payments (Step-3 of the setup process). You might want to include more specific information such as a description of your refund policy and how it is displayed to applicants, or a description of the specific service that the payment would cover (e.g. for an event fee).

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