Understanding disputes.

Apr 10 2018 | PayPal editorial staff

Every once in a while something goes wrong with an order. This is a normal, expected part of doing business that’s often the result of a simple misunderstanding or human error. When this happens, buyers may take action by opening a dispute.
Disputes generally fall under three categories:
  • Item Not Received. A buyer pays for an item but never receives it
  • Significantly Not As Described. A buyer receives an item that’s significantly different than what they ordered.
  • Unauthorized Transactions. A buyer claims a purchase was made without their consent.
In most cases, the easiest way to settle a dispute is for buyers and sellers to work together to figure out what happened and to settle their differences. This can help prevent holds from being placed on your account and can go a long way in keeping your customers happy.

Get tips on successfully communicating with customers.
  • Presume good faith. ​Begin the conversation with an open mind and listen to what the buyer has to say before making any assumptions. Many problems result from miscommunication and simple human error.
  • Be constructive. Make it clear to your buyer that you want to find a resolution, and your customer will usually reciprocate. This early show of mutual respect should make the rest of the conversation more productive.
  • Stay focused on solutions. If your patience is wearing thin, resist the temptation to give your customer a piece of your mind – it will only make it harder for you to come to an agreement.
  • Think long term. Not every battle is worth fighting. If you give the buyer a break today, you may open the door to more business opportunities tomorrow.
  • Preempt disputes. The Resolution Center allows you to enter messages that all your buyers will see before they can open a dispute. For example, if you post a message that says, “All shipments out of Buffalo are currently delayed due to the blizzard,” you give your buyer an opportunity to understand the situation before filing a dispute.

PayPal Dispute Resolution Process.
When buyers and sellers can’t come to an agreement, PayPal Dispute Resolution can help them arrive at a solution both sides can agree on. Once a buyer initiates the dispute resolution process, PayPal holds the money for that transaction until the dispute is resolved. If the dispute cannot be resolved between the buyer and seller, the dispute can be escalated to a claim, and PayPal will determine the outcome of the issue.
 
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Dispute notification.
PayPal will notify you by email when a buyer opens a dispute. PayPal will place a temporary hold on all funds involved in this transaction until the dispute has been resolved or closed. Once a decision is final, these funds will either be released to you or refunded to the buyer.
 
Step 2: Your response.
Review the dispute and post a reply with an explanation of what happened. Respond quickly and include suggestions on how to resolve the dispute.
  • If the buyer claims a purchase was made without their consent, review the claim and provide a response within seven days.
  • If you haven’t shipped the order, you can simply refund the payment and show PayPal proof of the refund.
  • If you have shipped the order, provide us with a copy of your shipping receipt of online tracking number – make sure the address on the shipping receipt matches the customer’s address listed on the PayPal Transaction Details page.
Step 3: Working it out.
Once a dispute has been opened, you and your buyer have 20 days to decide on a resolution. In most cases, sellers can work with their customers to find a solution you can both agree on. Once you’ve worked things out, the buyer closes the dispute. When disputes can’t be resolved, either party can escalate the dispute to a claim.

Escalating a dispute to a claim.
Claims give PayPal the authority to review the case and determine the outcome. Buyers have 20 days to file a claim from the time they open a dispute.

If your buyer files a claim against you, PayPal may ask you to provide some of the following information:
  • A third-party shipping receipt, a tracking number, or a signature confirmation to prove that an item was delivered.
  • Proof that you delivered a replacement or issued a refund if the buyer received their order but there was a problem with it.
  • A signed contract or other proof to show that services were provided.
  • Evidence to show that the buyer downloaded your product if you sold a digital good.
The delivery of this information is time sensitive, so don’t wait until the last minute, or you might lose the claim.
 
Resolving chargebacks.
A chargeback is when a buyer asks their credit card company to refund a charge. PayPal doesn’t decide the validity of the chargeback – that’s the job of the card issuer. PayPal’s role is simply to collect information about the transaction and help you work with the card company to resolve the chargeback.
  • Buyers can file chargebacks up to 120 days or more after they placed an order.
  • If you receive a chargeback, you’ll have 10 days to answer it.
  • Chargebacks are usually resolved in a few weeks but can take up to 75 days or more.
PayPal may ask you to provide the information needed to help you resolve the chargeback. As long as you are eligible for PayPal Seller Protection, PayPal will cover your loss even if you lose the chargeback.
 
PayPal Seller Protection.
While most buyers file claims and chargebacks for reasons they believe are legitimate, there are those who try to take advantage of the system. PayPal covers U.S. PayPal account holders in the event of a claim or chargeback when your transaction meets the following criteria:
  • Your transaction is marked either eligible or partially eligible. (You can check the status on the Transaction Details Page.)
  • Your primary residence listed in your PayPal account is in the U.S.
  • The item is a physical, tangible good that can be shipped.
  • You ship the item to the shipping address listed on the PayPal Transaction Details page.
  • Keep proof of shipment and delivery in the form of a third-party shipping receipt or tracking number; for payments more than $750 USD, you also need a signature confirmation of delivery.
Please note: Intangible items, such as digital goods and services; PayPal Direct and Virtual Terminal payments; and items prohibited by the PayPal User Agreement are not covered by PayPal Seller Protection. Learn more about PayPal Seller Protection.

 
The contents of this site are provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent, professional accounting, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision.

Frequently asked questions.

Account Activities

Where do the funds from a Venmo transaction go? Will I see them in my PayPal account? 
Your funds from payments made using Venmo are handled in the same way as other PayPal transactions, and will be placed into your PayPal account balance. They are also subject to the same rules as other PayPal transactions, including the rules on holds. Please note that at launch, Venmo-funded payments will not be specially designated in your account history or reporting - they will look like regular PayPal transactions. We may add a special designation to your transaction history or reporting in the future.  
  
How do I track Venmo disputes and chargebacks? 
You can track all of your disputes, including Venmo disputes, through the PayPal Resolution Center. The chargeback and dispute process for Venmo payments is generally the same as the process for PayPal payments, except for that the Venmo Authorized Merchant Payment Protection policy applies, rather than the PayPal Purchase Protection Policy.
 
How can I process a return from a Venmo payment? 
Returns for Venmo payments can be handled the same way they are for PayPal payments. 
 
Technical
 
Can I disable Venmo? 
PayPal is continually launching new products and services to enable more ways to pay. It is not currently possible to opt out of accepting Venmo through your PayPal integration as we continue to deliver expanded value for our customers and merchants. 

Can Venmo be tested on Sandbox?
No. Venmo doesn't currently have a Sandbox environment.
 
Can I change the design of the Venmo or PayPal button?
The design of the Venmo button and PayPal button will not be editable. 
 
Why can’t I have a separate Venmo button? 
PayPal currently offers the ability to have a separate Venmo button by integrating the Braintree SDK. To learn more about the Braintree SDK, please click here
 
How will my customers access Venmo if I don’t have a separate button? 
Once your customer has enabled the ability to pay with Venmo in their Venmo app, they will be able to complete their purchase using Venmo after selecting the PayPal Checkout button on your site. 

Will buyers see the Venmo-PayPal button when they try to access my website from their desktop or laptop computers?
No. The Venmo dual button is visible only on eligible mobile browser websites for all eligible Smart Payment Button merchants.

Can buyers pay with Venmo on a mobile device via a non-Smart Payment Button?
Yes. Upon redirect to PayPal, opted-in users will be presented with PayPal and Venmo options.
 
How do I sign up to accept payments through Venmo? 
If you already accept PayPal payments on your website, you do not need to do anything to accept Venmo payments. PayPal will utilize your existing PayPal integration to automatically deliver Venmo as a payment option to your customers. 

Is Venmo available through Smart Payment Buttons on Canadian merchants' websites?
Currently, Venmo payments are available in the US only.

Can Venmo be vaulted and used for Subscriptions and Recurring Payments?
As of now, no. Venmo doesn't support Billing Agreements, but is expected to do so by mid-2018.
 
I have already integrated Venmo through the Braintree SDK. Will I also get Venmo through my PayPal integration? 
No. Venmo as a payment method will not be available through your PayPal integration if you have integrated Venmo through the Braintree SDK.
Offers that sound too good to be true, probably are
Most of us are careful if a stranger approaches on the street and offers a deal that's just too good to be true. But we're much less cautious online, putting us at risk.

Advance fee fraud
If you get an offer for free money, there's probably a catch. Typically, fraudsters will ask you to send some smaller amount (for taxes, for legal documents, etc.) before they can send you the millions you’re promised, but which they never intend to send you.

How to avoid this scam: Don't wire money to someone you don't know.

Overpayment scam
  • A customer sends a PayPal payment that is more than the purchase price of the order, and then asks you to wire them the difference.
    • They may tell you that they accidentally overpaid you, the extra money is for the shipping costs, they're giving you a bonus for your great service or the money is for the stress they've caused you.
    • They may even ask you to wire the shipping fees to their shipper.
  • This scammer may have paid with a stolen credit card, bank account number or checking account.
    • Just because a payment has been deposited into your account, doesn't mean the money is yours to keep. If the legitimate account holder reports unauthorized activity, the money can be withdrawn from your account.
    • If that happens, you'll lose the money you wired to the fraudster, the product you shipped, shipping costs and your payment.
How to avoid this scam:
  • Don't wire money to someone you don't know. A legitimate buyer won't overpay you for an order.
  • If a customer overpays you and asks you to wire them the difference, consider canceling the order—it's very likely to be fraudulent.
  • Don't wire money to the bogus shipping company—it's part of their scam to get your money.

Prize winnings
Messages asking you to pay a small handling fee to collect some fabulous prize are usually a scam. You send the handling fee and get nothing in return.

How to avoid this scam: Don't send money to someone you don't know. A legitimate prize won’t require you to pay in order to receive it.

High profit – no risk investments
These types of investments are usually scams and include messages insisting that you “Act Now!” for a great deal.

How to avoid this scam: Discontinue communication with this person/company.

Fake charities
Scammers use disasters to trick kind-hearted people into donating to fake charities. This usually happens when there is a refugee crisis, a terrorist attack or a natural disaster (like an earthquake, flooding or famine).

How to avoid this scam:
Thoroughly check the background of any charity to make sure your donation goes to real victims. Use resources to check out charities, like the ones below:

http://www.charitynavigator.org
http://www.bbb.org/us/charity
http://www.charitywatch.org

If a charity does not have a website, be cautious.

To learn more about common scams and how to avoid them, search online for advance fee fraud. You can also read the FBI's material on common types of scams. Most importantly: be as cautious online as you would be in the real world.

Shipping Scams
There are several ways fraudsters incorporate shipping into their schemes. Be sure you’re familiar with the following:
  • My shipping service scam
    • The buyer asks you to use their shipping account because they can get a discount, they have a preferred vendor they’ve worked with for years, or their shipping service is cheaper or more reliable. In another variation of the scam, the buyer may also ask you to wire the shipping fees to their preferred shipper.
    • If you use the buyer's shipping account, they can easily contact the shipping company and reroute the order to another address.
      • The buyer can then open up a complaint asking for a refund because they didn't receive their order.
      • You aren't able to prove that the buyer received their order and you are out your product, the shipping costs and your money.
    • If they ask you to wire the money to a bogus shipping company, they can steal your money.
      • After you have wired the money you’ll find out that the order was made with a stolen card or bank account. You may be held liable for returning the funds to the legitimate customer whose account was stolen.
How to avoid this scam:
  • Only use your shipping account.
  • Never wire money to someone you don't know – you can't get it back easily.
  • If a customer asks you to use their shipping service, review their order for fraud carefully. They may have used a stolen card or bank account to fund the purchase.
  • Ship to the address on the Transaction Details page.
Pre-paid shipping label scam
  • You receive an order from a customer who asks you to use their pre-paid label to cover the shipping charges. (They may tell you that they can get their labels at a discounted price.)
  • By providing the label, the customer controls the destination of the package. They may send it to another country, a PO Box or some other untraceable location.
    • To be covered under PayPal's Seller Protection policy, you are required to ship to the address on the Transaction Details page.
    • The shipping label may also have been purchased with a stolen credit card.
How to avoid this scam:
  • If the customer asks you to use their pre-paid label, review their order for fraud carefully. They may have used a stolen card to make the purchase.
  • Do not accept shipping labels from your customers.
  • Ship to the address on the Transaction Details page.
Package rerouting scam
The buyer reroutes the package so they can file a complaint that they never received it.
  • A buyer places an order and provides an incorrect or fake shipping address.
  • The shipping company tries to deliver the package but isn't able to.
  • The buyer monitors the online tracking information and notices that the shipper couldn't deliver the package.
  • The buyer contacts your shipping company and asks them to send the package to their correct address. The shipping company delivers the package to the new location.
  • Buyer then files a complaint for not receiving the item.
    • Because the shipment was rerouted, you can't prove the item was delivered to the address on the Transaction Details page.
    • The buyer gets to keep the item and money.
    • Because the package wasn't delivered to the address on the Transaction Details page, you aren't covered by Seller Protection.
    • Unfortunately, you lost the product, shipping fees and the money.
    • To make it worse, you might also have to pay your shipper an additional rerouting fee.
How to avoid this scam:
  • Contact your shipping company and block buyers from rerouting packages.
  • Validate the buyer's address before shipping.
  • Only ship to the address on the Transaction Details page.

Business / job opportunities
Fraudsters will post fake job opportunities on job-posting sites, dating sites, and via spam email.

Reshipping packages scam
  • One of the more popular work-from-home scams is reshipping electronics, clothing and other items out of the United States.
  • You receive items (electronics, jewelry, clothing, etc.) in the mail and are asked to ship them out of the country.
    • Packages may be addressed to someone else's name (the stolen credit card victim).
    • Your "employer" provides you with a shipping label (also paid for with a stolen credit card).
    • Your "employer" ask you for personal information, such as Social Security Number and bank account details, so they can "direct deposit" your check.
    • Generally, you’ll never get paid and have just exposed yourself to fraud.
  • Most merchants will not ship items out of the country.
    • Fraudsters need you to act as an intermediary to help get the goods out of the country. It also helps them avoid getting caught.
    • They use your personal information to steal your identity or takeover your account.
How to avoid this scam:
  • If it's too good to be true, it probably is. Know who you are dealing with and don't reship packages.
  • If you didn't realize you were involved in a scam until the packages started arriving, refuse delivery or return to sender. Report scams to the Internet Crime Complaint Center or contact your Postmaster.
  • Never give your private personal or financial information to anyone you don't know.
Employment scam
  • Someone contacts you about a great new business opportunity. They need an employee or partner to sell cameras (or some other expensive product) for them.
  • Scammers trick innocent and trustworthy people into sending them money and merchandise.
    • The scammer may even say they found you through eBay's Trading Assistant program. They will ask you to:
  • List some products for sale on eBay or on your website.
  • Use the money from the orders to pay their supplier. They’ll contact the supplier in advance to let them know you’ll be sending them money.
  • Update your PayPal account address to their address. They’ll usually give you an address that looks like a regular address but it's a P.O. Box.
  • After you pay the supplier, you’ll start receiving complaints from your buyers stating that they didn't receive their merchandise. Instead they received an empty box (from the scammer).
  • You contact the supplier. They inform you that your partner said you would be sending money for gold bouillons, so they shipped the gold bouillons (not cameras) to your PayPal account address. You remember that your partner asked you to change your PayPal account address to their address, so they could pickup the gold.
    • You paid the supplier for the cameras, so you file a complaint against the supplier. Unfortunately, you learn that you may be liable for the money since the supplier delivered the merchandise to your PayPal account address.
How to avoid this scam:
  • If it's too good to be true, it probably is. Know who you are dealing with.
  • Don't list someone else's address on your PayPal account.
  • Verify your suppliers and don't send money to someone you don't know.
  • Only ship items to the address on the Transaction Details page.
  • Be on alert if you’re asked to ship a lot of packages overseas or to the same post office box.
If you think you’ve received a suspicious email or have been directed to a fake website, forward it to spoof@paypal.com and we’ll investigate it for you. After you send us the email, delete it from your inbox. If you clicked on any links or downloaded any attachments within the suspicious email or website, log into your account and view your transactions. It’s also a good idea to change your password.
 
To report SPAM SMS messages, forward them to ‘7726’ (which is the keys for SPAM on most phones). Check with your service provider to find if this service is supported or read more here: http://www.gsma.com/aboutus/.  
 
To view all transactions and activity, log in to your PayPal account and check your recent activity. If you see any unauthorized transactions, go to the Resolution Center to report it.

Here's a video on identifying suspicious mails:
 

Before disputing a PayPal Credit purchase, we recommend attempting to resolve the issue with the merchant. If you aren’t able to do so, you have the following options to submit a dispute:

  • Dispute with PayPal through the Resolution Center.
  • Dispute directly through PayPal Credit.
    • If you file a dispute through PayPal Credit, the transaction will no longer be covered under PayPal Purchase Protection.

Here’s how to initiate a PayPal dispute.

  1. Go to the Resolution Center.
  2. Click Report a problem.
  3. Select the reason for your dispute and click Continue.

If your PayPal Credit purchase was made through PayPal but isn't showing up on your PayPal account, send us a secure email or call us.

If you used PayPal Credit outside of your PayPal wallet, then you’ll have to dispute directly through PayPal Credit.

Here's how to file directly with PayPal Credit.

Don’t see your PayPal Credit purchase on your PayPal account? Email us by clicking Contact at the bottom of any PayPal page.

You must notify us of any potential errors no later than 60 days after the error first appeared on your billing statement. You can email us, but if you do, we are not required to investigate any potential errors and you may have to pay the amount in question.

You can communicate directly with your buyer through a message board in the dispute case. Here's how to respond to a dispute:
  1. Go to Resolution Center.
  2. Click View under "Action" next to your case.
  3. Respond to the buyer and enter any relevant information (such as tracking information), and then click Send.

What's Next?

You have 20 days from the date the dispute was opened to resolve it with your buyer. If your buyer isn't responding or you can't come to a resolution, you can escalate your dispute to a claim. If you escalate your dispute to a claim, PayPal will review the case and decide the outcome.

You can manage your dispute in the Resolution Center by communicating with the buyer and providing additional information.

We understand disputes and claims are never ideal and can be confusing. Please refer to our timeframes for additional information and timelines on the disputes and claims process.