How to handle disputes

When handling disputes between cardholders and merchants, each card network has its own structured process. Merchants can either challenge the dispute, providing evidence to the card issuer, or choose not to challenge it and accept the dispute. The card issuer will make a final decision based on the provided evidence.

Each card network has its own formal, structured process for handling disputes between cardholders and merchants, but at a high level they are all essentially the same. The process is described here:

How disputes work

When a dispute occurs, the disputed amount plus the dispute fee is pulled from your Stripe balance by the card network until a decision is reached by the card network on who should win the dispute. Stripe plays no part in the dispute decision itself, but we do provide tools to help you challenge the dispute to give you the best chance of winning. Not challenging the dispute can be seen as an acceptance of the dispute by the networks, so submitting evidence is your best chance of winning the dispute.

When you receive a dispute, you will have one decision to make in the beginning - will you challenge the dispute or not. You should review the dispute and the dispute claim from your Dashboard to understand if you think the dispute was valid or not from the perspective of your customer. On top of this, you should assess whether or not you have evidence to counter the dispute. With these factors in mind, you can make your decision on whether or not to counter the dispute. If you choose not to challenge it, you can either ignore the dispute and do nothing, or explicitly accept the dispute:

In your dashboard, you’ll be given a timeline on when evidence should be submitted, so if you do choose to counter the dispute, you’ll have time to gather your evidence. After you’ve made the decision to counter the dispute, you’ll need to begin gathering your evidence for submission. Disputes are a normal and common part of the payments ecosystem, but if you don't have a lot of experience with them, they might seem complex. We provide you with everything you need to know about what to include in your evidence submission so that you can navigate the process:

Depending on the reason the customer disputed the payment, there are a number of different types of evidence that you can supply to counter the claim. For example, a payment disputed for the reason “Product not received” can be countered with evidence of delivery by the customer signing for the goods.

Check our our docs on the different types of evidence that can help fight each type of dispute:

The evidence you provide the issuer at this step of the process is the only communication between you and the issuer. There are no other opportunities to communicate during this process. Based on the evidence you give, the issuer will make a single, final decision about whether the dispute is won or lost.

The best way to deal with disputes is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. This might not always be possible but learning from past disputes can help prevent future disputes. Check out our docs on how you can best prevent disputes for your account: