Understanding Reasons Behind Retrieval Requests

January 12, 2023Iwona Chrzanowska-Wójcik

While chargebacks are part and parcel of running an online business, retrieval requests are still a mystery for some merchants. Although they can be annoying, it is highly recommended to respond to them since it's the easiest way to prevent customers from disputing chargebacks. 

We’re breaking down what a retrieval request is and and what some of the most common reasons behind them are.

What Is a Retrieval Request? 

A retrieval request (also known as a soft chargeback) is a formalized request from the cardholder regarding the charge on their account. 

It occurs when, before validating the transaction, a credit card issuer asks a merchant for the transaction details. It does so on behalf of the cardholder who cannot recognize the charge and decides to contact their bank to clarify the situation instead of disputing a chargeback immediately.  

The easiest and shortest path is when the acquirer responds to the retrieval request with transaction records. But, in some cases, the merchant has to be involved in the process.

Once the merchant sends the transaction details to the acquirer, the latter can fulfill the request. 

Even though soft chargebacks are perceived as nuisances, the importance of responding to customers' requests can't be underrated. 

Every response managed properly diminishes the risk of chargebacks, thus saving merchants money.

Is Soft Chargeback a Real Threat?

Not without reason, the retrieval request process is the same as the chargeback process. 

A retrieval request means that a cardholder or the issuing bank needs more information about a transaction, which is a clear signal that the transaction is being questioned. It is the first step in the chargeback process. 

The main difference with chargebacks is that the transaction amount is not withheld from the merchant's account. 

Unquestionably, responding promptly (preferably within 10 days) to retrieval requests is crucial unless merchants prefer fighting against chargebacks instead of dealing with their softer version.  

Moreover, ignoring soft chargebacks entirely can make the representment process impossible due evident lack of willingness to clear things up.

Reasons Behind a Retrieval Request

A retrieval request usually heralds either a forthcoming chargeback dispute or indicates that one is already underway. 

The following are some of the most common reasons for retrievals:

  • The customer doesn't remember the purchase. 

  • The customer doesn't recognize the transaction details on the bank statement (for instance, due to inconsistent transaction descriptors). 

  • The amount on the credit card statement is different from the agreed amount.

  • The information on the receipt is incomplete, inaccurate, or hard to read. 

  • The issuer considers this particular transaction fraudulent.

How to Handle a Retrieval Request

When the bank asks for information regarding a particular transaction, the merchant must submit additional documentation to help the bank decide whether the transaction is legitimate.

It goes without saying that the information given should be as descriptive as possible to dispel any doubts — in other words, keep things concise and easy to follow.

Here’s a list of what the information that should be provided: 

  • Cardholder's name

  • Account number

  • IP address

  • Merchant details (name, web address, physical location)

  • An order confirmation number

  • Transaction date, amount, and currency

  • Payment card's last 4 digits and card brand

  • Authorization code

  • Description of the products or services purchased

  • Date of both the transaction and shipping of a product or a service

  • Return/refund policy

Some of the details mentioned above refer to online sales; however, soft chargebacks are more probable for card-present transactions. 

The explanation is quite simple — merchants offering their products or services online have more ways to communicate with their customers. Sending an email with the purchase confirmation significantly diminishes the risk of retrievals. 

Wrap Up

The quality of documentation the merchant provides determines resolving the situation in their favor. 

Time also works for the sake of the merchant. We recommend prompt reaction (within 10 days) to resolve retrievals and prevent chargebacks.

Note that no response to the retrieval request may turn it into a chargeback with no reversal rights for the merchant and extra costs (much higher than in the case of soft chargebacks).