Posted Sun Mar 03 @ 01:17:47 PM PDT 2013

I used PayPal for over 4 years before switching to Stripe. During those 4 years, with PayPal, I never had a charge disputed via the credit card company. I did, however, receive about a dozen disputes initiated through PayPal.

Every single one of those disputes I lost -- even ones where the customer realized the dispute was a mistake and tried to make amends. PayPal simply pretended to investigate the dispute, and after 30 days, returned the money to the customer. I don't think anyone at PayPal even glanced at my responses to the disputes. The last few disputes I received, I didn't even bother trying to defend myself. Fortunately, PayPal doesn't penalize you if you lose a dispute (besides refunding the money back to the customer).

Things changed when I switched to Stripe 5 months ago. They charge you $15 if you lose a dispute (originally, they would charge you $15 even if you won the dispute). Already, I have been the lucky recipient of 7 disputes. In 6 of the 7 disputes, the reason for the dispute has been "Unrecognized" or "Fraudulent" (which I have learned is pretty much the same thing as "Unrecognized").

I have one Stripe account under my company, Aptibyte, LLC. What the customer sees on their credit card statement is "aptibyte.com - ". They do not see the name of the product they purchased like "jeopardylabs.com" or "testmoz.com" . I do make it clear on the checkout pages and the receipt, that they are ordering through Aptibyte, LLC, and aptibyte.com will appear on their statement. But apparently, I have customers who ignore that, see aptibyte.com on their credit card statement, panic, and don't bother typing aptibyte.com into their browser (where they can see all my products). Instead they simply click the dispute payment link next to the charge on their credit statement. Awesome.

When I got my first dispute, I was not a happy camper, especially since Stripe was going to charge me $15 no matter what (this was before they refunded the $15 dispute fee). I sent some nastygram email to the customer (who never replied), deactivated their account, and submitted a very terse response to the dispute to Stripe. Needless to say, I didn't win the dispute.

For my next dispute, the customer actually called my business phone but they didn't leave a voicemail. Because I want to avoid talking to my customers at all costs, my voicemail greeting is something like "Please visit aptibyte.com for more information, or email support@aptibyte.com for help." Not exactly the most welcoming thing in the world, but I have a job, and can't man the phone. Needless to say, the next day, I received the dispute notice from Stripe. I sent a much more friendly email to the customer (who never responded), and wrote a thorough defense of the charge to Stripe. About a month later, I learned that I won the dispute. I felt good about winning, but I still didn't like the fact that the customer started the dispute in the first place after calling.

I changed my voicemail greeting to something nicer like "You reached Aptibyte.com the makers of web applications for teachers and other educational professionals. Please leave a message, and we will get back to you shortly" (or something like that). I have only received a few calls to that number, and I assume most of the callers are customers on the verge of starting a dispute. Fortunately, after the calls, I have never received a dispute notice the following day. This seems to indicate the voicemail helps reassure the customer that the charge is legit (seems way too obvious now).

So far, I have lost 2 of the 7 disputes, won 3, and have 2 under review (which I think I will win).

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