Folks have been asking us about this, so I recently went through the paperwork and signed up to become an American Express merchant. We were accepted, and everything seemed fine. Then, on the same day we received our agreement, we got a second letter, unilaterally amending that agreement. It said “if any customer disputes a Charge at your establishment claiming the transaction was fraudulent, American Express will immediately chargeback your merchant account for the full amount of the Disputed Charge without contacting your or sending you an inquiry. You will not have the opportunity to present any written substantive response to Disputed Charges…”.
We’ve never had anyone claim a fraudulent transaction against us, but we understand that cards can get stolen. We work hard with the card companies to help whenever a transaction is queried. But think about what American Express is saying.
If someone believes a transaction is fraudulent, then clearly they have a right to get their card credited immediately. That’s how all the card companies work, and we support it 100%. But then the other companies contact us and say “so-and-so says this. Do you have any records that will help in the invesigation?” We work with them to resolve the situation. By doing so, everyone benefits.
Not so with American Express. If someone makes a claim, not only do we not get told about it, but we have no ability to add any information to the situation. Everyone suffers, because no one can determine what really happened. We end up with a fraudulent transaction on our record. And we have no ability to correct the situation.
Visa and Mastercard are a pain to deal with. That’s as it should be. They want to protect the consumer. So do we. And that protection comes from transparency and the exchange of information. American Express doesn’t seem to be bothered with these details.
I spoke with managers there today. Because we don’t have a store front, they aren’t prepared to drop the clause. Instead, I dropped the card.