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Disputes Overview

dispute process

1. Customer Submits Retrieval Request

A retrieval request is a demand for additional information, which may precede a dispute. A retrieval request occurs when a shopper asks their issuing bank for detailed information about a specific transaction on their account.

The shopper usually makes a retrieval request because they don’t understand or recognize the charge, or because they suspect fraud on their account. The shopper’s issuing bank will then request proof of what occurred in the transaction.

Retrieval Request Flow

Once the shopper’s issuing bank files a retrieval request, Bolt will reach out to the merchant to gather the appropriate information. Merchants must respond within the specified timeframe.

Documentation Required

Use the following list when compiling a reply to the shopper’s request. Remember that the information you provide should be as descriptive as possible. The more information you provide and the more accurate your descriptions are, the less likely a chargeback will arise.

  • Description of the products or services purchased
  • Order Invoice, to prove shipping address
  • Name of Shipping Carrier
  • Order Tracking Number
  • Link to the order tracking page on the carrier’s website
  • Shipping receipt to prove the date of shipment
  • Any correspondence you may have with the customer
  • The transaction date
  • The shipping date

Failure to respond to a retrieval request can automatically trigger a chargeback and may disqualify a merchant from disputing the chargeback.

After the merchant responds to the retrieval request, the shopper may be satisfied with the information and request no further action, or the shopper may decide to file a chargeback formally. If the shopper files a chargeback, Bolt will follow our standard chargeback process.

The merchant response timeline for retrieval requests varies by the card issuer. It is important to always respond to a retrieval request as quickly and thoroughly as possible to limit the likelihood of a chargeback.

Response Timelines

  • Visa: After 20 days, the retrieval will either close or evolve into a chargeback. Bolt only withdraws funds upon receipt of the chargeback.
  • Mastercard: After 20 days, the retrieval will either close or evolve into a chargeback. Bolt only withdraws funds upon receipt of the chargeback.
  • American Express: Merchants must respond to the retrieval request within ten days. If the merchant fails to respond adequately, the retrieval request will become a chargeback, and the merchant will forfeit their right to chargeback representment.
  • Discover: Merchants must respond to the retrieval request within 20 days. If the merchant fails to respond adequately, the retrieval request will become a chargeback, and the merchant will forfeit their right to chargeback representment.

2. Customer Initiates Dispute

A customer begins a chargeback dispute by calling their bank asking for a refund. For non-fraud chargebacks, the bank is typically a last resort; they’ll often attempt to reach your business first to resolve the dispute. To that end, great customer service is your best prevention strategy for non-fraud chargebacks.

3. Bolt Reviews Dispute

When the customer initiates the dispute, Bolt receives a notification. Once a day, the Bolt Risk Team reviews all notifications and determines whether the liability for the chargeback resides with Bolt or with the merchant based on Bolt’s chargeback liability criteria.

A) Bolt-liable Chargebacks

If the liability resides with Bolt (usually in the case of fraudulent chargebacks), Bolt will assume responsibility for all fees and costs associated with the chargeback.

Liability Requirements

  • The transaction was processed through Bolt
  • The purchaser completed checkout themselves (as opposed to a merchant’s agent -completing checkout on the purchaser’s behalf)
  • For physical goods, the merchant has retained tracking numbers and relevant shipping documentation to help Bolt fight chargebacks.

Coverage Scenarios

  • Unauthorized charges (Compromised cardholder) such as:
    • A criminal finds a lost card
    • The physical payment card is stolen
    • Counterfeit cards are created with stolen account information
    • Hacked account information is used to make transactions
  • Friendly Fraud (Family/Friend using card without explicit consent)

Merchant Actions

Typically, no action is needed from the merchant. However, Bolt may need to request shipping documentation from the merchant to assist in fighting the dispute. Relevant documentation must be sent to Bolt Merchant Support prior to the reply-by date.

If the merchant does not have or does not send the requested shipping documentation, the merchant may assume responsibility for a Bolt-liable chargeback.

Read how to win a chargeback in our merchant guide.

B) Merchant-Liable Chargebacks

If the liability resides with the merchant (usually in the case of non-fraudulent chargebacks), several actions will occur:

  • The merchant’s account will be debited for the amount of the chargeback, and the customer will receive the funds within the next 7 days.
  • The merchant will be charged an additional $15 chargeback processing fee.
  • The merchant will receive an email notification from Bolt. This email will contain the following information related to the chargeback:
    • Name of customer
    • Bolt transaction ID
    • Amount of chargeback
    • Reply-by Date
    • Instructions for fighting the dispute

Liability Requirements

  • Product received was not what the customer ordered
  • Product was not delivered on time, was never delivered, or was damaged upon delivery
  • Customer returned the merchandise but did not receive a refund
  • Other merchant errors (Poor customer service, unwanted recurring payments, authorization errors, or faulty product fulfillment)

Liability Scenarios

  • Force-Approved transactions: Bolt rejected the order but the merchant overrode the rejection.
  • Merchant-Placed Transactions: Phone orders or in person orders that the merchant placed on behalf of the customer. These may be made either through the Bolt Virtual Terminal or through checkout on the website.
  • Transactions on the Merchant’s IP Address: Orders placed using the merchant’s IP address generally indicate that the merchant placed the order on behalf of a customer within the merchant’s physical location. This type of backoffice order is not indemnified by Bolt. If you need to create a backoffice order, please use the Virtual Terminal.
  • Altered Transactions: Transactions where the order details, such as shipping address or recipient name, are changed after Bolt has approved the order. If you’d like to change order details and retain fraud coverage, please email Bolt Support with your requested change and we’d be happy to re-review your order.

If you are booking a transaction on behalf of your customer (i.e. phone orders), we highly recommend using the Virtual Terminal rather than booking through your website checkout. Bolt charges only processing fees on orders placed through the Virtual Terminal, and does not charge a Bolt fee. Orders placed through the website checkout will be charged both the processing fee and the Bolt fee, and the merchant is liable for any chargebacks.

4. Bolt Submits Representation to Bank

After reviewing the chargeback dispute and collecting any necessary documentation, Bolt submits the documentation to the issuing bank to represent the merchant in the dispute. If the merchant wins, Bolt returns the chargeback amount and the fee to the merchant.

Even if the merchant wins, customers may disagree with the conclusion and re-initiate the chargeback. This moves the dispute into pre-arbitration. In this scenario, Bolt debits the merchant again. The merchant will need to provide additional evidence and documentation to Bolt to win the dispute.

Non-Fraud Representation

Merchants that have <20 merchant-liable disputes per month are eligible to apply for Bolt’s Non-Fraud Chargeback Consultancy program.

5. Reimbursement


Merchants that do not use Bolt Payments as their processor are considered gateway merchants. Chargeback reimbursements are handled differently for gateway merchants depending on their setup.

Most gateway setups require Bolt to have limited access to your payment processor portal. To grant such permissions, see our Chargeback Representation policy.

  • Braintree: Reimbursements are deducted from your monthly Bolt invoice once the chargeback reaches a lost, accepted, or expired state.

  • Stripe: Reimbursements are issued directly into your Stripe account and are credited when a chargeback reaches the lost state. Read more about Stripe chargebacks.

Invoice Example

The following example is an invoice for a gateway merchant using Braintree as their processor. The Fraud Disputed Chargeback line item is deducted from the total Bolt Platform Fee for that given month.

bolt invoice braintree

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