It will sometimes happen that after a payment is made, the payer/cardholder will see the payment on their account statement and will not recognize it, and will call their bank or credit card issuer to dispute the payment. (Additionally, a payer might dispute a payment as a way to get around a no-refund policy.) When a cardholder or bank account owner disputes a payment, this is initiated between the payer and his/her bank/card issuer. There is nothing Slate can do to prevent that!
When a payment is disputed, that will be reflected both in the payment activity on the student record, and in the Payment History. In addition, the Payment History will show a "refund" event. This does not reflect an actual refund to the cardholder at this point, but rather the funds moving out of your connected account (i.e. your Slate Payments Deposit account). The funds are placed in escrow while the bank investigates the dispute. The amount removed includes the $15 dispute fee, but if the dispute is resolved in your institution's favor, that fee will be returned to your connected account along with the other disputed funds.
The credit card bank will investigate the disputed payment. This can take several months. When the investigation concludes, either they will decide in the cardholder's favor (in which case the funds will be refunded to the payer at that point, and a Payment Refunded activity will be added to the student's record), or they will decide in the institution's favor (in which case a new "received" event will show in the payment history to reflect that the funds have been moved from escrow back into your account).
For online payments where no physical goods are being sent, it is common for the dispute to be resolved in favor of the payer. If that occurred, the payment would be automatically refunded, and a $15 charge will be added by the payment processor.
We take several steps to try to prevent these disputes, and especially lost disputes, from occurring:
- First, we add a warning to the email sent when the payment succeeds, so that the student or applicant can make sure the account holder is aware (as they may oftentimes not be the same person, especially for undergraduate programs and admissions processes).
- Second, by allowing you to set the name to show on the credit card statement, we increase the likelihood that the charge will be recognized.
- Third, when a dispute is opened, we automatically send an update to the processor (which is passed on to the bank or credit card company) explaining the nature of the charge (see also below).
- Fourth, when a dispute is opened, we send an email to the student asking them to contact the payer (who can call the bank or credit card company and close/drop the dispute). If that happens, the applicant should forward the official letter of withdrawal to you.
- In addition, if the charge does end up being automatically refunded, we'll send an email both to the student and to you at that time. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent payment disputes altogether.
By default, when a dispute is opened, we send the following text as 'additional information' to the payment processor as part of the 'dispute evidence' (which is then passed to the bank or credit card issuer):
Payments for college/university applications, admissions events, or tuition deposits are often paid by relatives of the student and disputes sometimes occur because they don't recognize the charge later. We've contacted the student and asked them to contact the payer to verify that the charge was intended. Additionally, tuition deposits are intended to hold a place in a class when enrolling and as such are never refundable (and all payers are informed of this).
However, you can (and should) replace this default text, for a given payment type (aka payment_account) to suit your needs, when you use the Application Editor to configure the payment page for Slate Payments (Step-3 of the setup process). You might want to include more specific information such as a description of your refund policy and how it is displayed to applicants, or a description of the specific service that the payment would cover (e.g. for an event fee).