Why False Declines Happen

Why False Declines Happen

Having a credit or debit card erroneously declined creates embarrassment for shoppers and an inconvenience for businesses. According to estimates, as many as 40 percent of adults in the U.S. have experienced a situation in which their credit card purchase was questioned or halted. Whether you accept credit cards through a high-risk merchant account or a traditional processing arrangement, you need to be able to explain to your customers why false declines happen. After all, you don’t want customers to associate such a negative experience with your business.

Credit Card Companies Want to Prevent Fraud

Fraud prevention is one of the main reasons credit card companies mistakenly block transactions. You can let customers know that while this is inconvenient, it’s a measure that’s designed to protect them from criminals. After significant security breaches in which criminals access many credit card numbers, card issuers often tighten their rules in hopes of preventing fraudulent transactions. As a result, legitimate purchases inevitably run afoul of the stricter authorization standards.

The situation is often confusing and irritating to customers. But with empathy and patience, you can guide them to find a way around the erroneous decline.

Possible Solutions to Suggest to Customers

When customers believe their credit card is being mistakenly blocked, you can encourage them to handle the situation in a proactive way. First, you can tell them to call the number on the back of their card and explain to the card issuer that they’re trying to make a legitimate purchase at your business. While the customer tries to sort out the problem with the card issuer, offer to hold the product for them.

If you’re interacting with customers face-to-face or over the phone, you can ask if they have another means of payment to allow them to complete their purchase. This tactic is especially useful when the situation doesn’t lend itself to the customer placing a phone call to the card issuer to clear up the misunderstanding.

For online transactions, you may have your website offer prompts when a credit card transaction fails. In some cases, the customer may have incorrectly entered a piece of supporting data such as the expiration date, their mailing address, or the three-digit code on the back. If their card is declined a second time, you can encourage them to contact their card issuer directly to resolve the issue.

Dealing With Declines and the Resulting Pending Charges

It’s the worst case scenario: you’ve tried several times to complete a purchase using a customer’s card, but it’s declined each time. These attempted transactions may show up on the shopper’s credit card account as pending purchases. This is sure to infuriate an already angry customer. If a client asks you to eliminate the pending charges, you need to explain that your company will reverse the charges, though you can’t instantly remove them.

Whether you’re dealing with a customer who’s upset about an erroneous decline or pending charges, you need to have employees who are trained to deal with them effectively. An excellent customer sales representative should help customers strategize a way to troubleshoot the situation.


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