What Is a Retrieval Request?
A retrieval request, also known as an inquiry, request for information or a soft chargeback, is simply a review of the paperwork regarding a credit card transaction. It can be filed by the issuing bank or the issuing bank can file one on behalf of the cardholder if they do not recognize a transaction or suspect fraud. The issuer forwards the request to the merchant acquirer who either answers the request if they have the relevant information or forwards it to the merchant if they do not. While this step is gradually being phased out of the chargeback process, as long as it exists, it still plays an important role in giving merchants the opportunity to clarify charges before the cardholder files for a chargeback.
There are four common reasons why issuers make retrieval requests:
- The customer doesn’t remember making a purchase.
- The transaction amount on the statement doesn’t match the transaction amount stated at the point-of-sale.
- The customer doesn’t recognize specific transaction details appearing on the statement, such as the billing descriptor.
- The customer is committing “friendly fraud” by illegitimately claiming an order was wrong or not received.
Retrieval request fees and deadlines
The acquirer or payment processor charges a fee to process retrieval requests. This fee is also known as a “per-occurrence” fee. The amount you are charged varies based on things such as the processor you use and the card brand associated with the transaction. In some cases, your acquirer may charge you as much as they do for a chargeback.
Pay close attention to all fees when signing up with a new payment processor. Fees are usually negotiable so don’t pay sticker price just because you are afraid to rock the boat.
Besides cost, timing is also important when receiving retrieval requests. After it receives a retrieval request from the issuing bank, your payment processor will usually give you between 10 and 20 days to resolve the issue. The exact time frame is set by your payment processor.
While most processors will give you 10 to 20 days to respond to an inquiry, you must check how the process works. Some processors will respond to an inquiry automatically on your behalf, while others won’t respond to an inquiry or inform you at all. It is important to clarify how things work with your account manager.
In many cases, merchants who ignore inquiries lose the right to fight a chargeback for that transaction.
How does a retrieval request response look?
The following information is typically provided when responding to a retrieval request:
- A legible receipt
- Company and product information
- Product delivery information
- Transaction Information – Date, amount and ARN (Acquirer Reference Number)
- Authentication of transaction (via phone, email, etc.)
- Notification if refund was issued
- Proof refund was issued
- ARN for refund as well as original transaction
The end result of a retrieval request is that either the issuer is satisfied with the response or a chargeback is filed. Retrieval requests themselves do not impact merchants’ fraud or chargeback ratios.
Phasing out retrieval requests
Over time, retrieval requests have become a much less common way to validate transaction details. In the past, the credit card networks required issuing banks to go through the retrieval request process before filing a chargeback. Today, only Discover requires this.
Visa, the largest credit card network, ended the use of retrieval requests on October 16, 2020. According to Visa, it now “has [an] alternate functionality that can provide the same or better information through its Order Insight product (formerly known as Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry [VMPI]).”
Visa’s Order Insights initiative gives merchants a chance to address transaction issues early on in the payment process both automatically and in real time.
Mastercard still uses retrieval requests only for its Maestro line of debit cards. For other MasterCard transactions, the Eliminator program by its subsidiary Ethoca serves a similar function to Visa’s Order Insights.
At the time of writing, American Express and Discover still use retrieval requests. However, they are expected to eventually follow Visa’s lead and phase out retrievals from the chargeback process.
Need help responding to retrieval requests? Talk to our team at AcroCharge and get the help you need.
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