Unfortunately, disputed transactions are a standard part of doing business—even if you follow our suggested precautions below to prevent them. Disputes are handled differently for PayPal and credit card transactions, so read through the sections below for details and best practices.


Customers who pay via PayPal can dispute transactions in two ways:

  1. With a chargeback initiated through the credit card that funded their transaction
  2. With a dispute or claim initiated through PayPal

Either way, disputed PayPal transactions are managed within PayPal's Resolution Center, which can be found in your . From there, you can:

  • Respond to a transaction problem and communicate with your customer
  • Resolve an account limitation
  • Report unauthorized account activity
  • Ask PayPal to investigate a transaction problem

Learn more about PayPal disputes in the Tips and education section of the PayPal Resolution Center.

Credit cards


When one of your cardholders initiates a chargeback, retrieval, or pre-arbitration, you'll receive an email from Braintree with instructions on how to proceed.

By default, your first admin user created in the gateway will receive notifications, but this can be adjusted in the Control Panel. To edit your notifications, navigate to Settings > Processing > Dispute Notifications and click Edit.

You can adjust the frequency of the notifications and designate who receives them. When designating recipients, you have two options: adding a User Recipient, or using the Email Address field.

  • User Recipients: This field allows you to send notifications to existing users in the Control Panel. These recipients will receive notifications based on their role and any sub-merchants they are associated with (if applicable); if their permissions don’t allow them to see certain transactions, or they are not associated with a certain sub-merchant, they won’t receive dispute notifications for those transactions.
  • Email Address: This field allows you to send notifications to any email address, regardless of whether the email is associated with a user in the Control Panel. This can be particularly helpful if you use internal distribution lists to manage disputes (e.g. disputes@yourcompany.com). Emails entered in this field will receive all dispute notifications—even if the address corresponds to a user with limited permissions, they will still receive notifications for all disputes.

Any merchant accounts that do not currently have a recipient designated will be listed here as well. While not all merchant accounts will generate dispute notifications, we recommend that you assign notification recipients to as many merchant accounts as possible.

Managing in the Braintree Control Panel

To manage disputed credit card transactions, follow these steps:

  1. Log into the Braintree Control Panel
  2. Navigate to Transactions > Disputes
  3. To submit evidence against a claim, click the Dispute button
  4. To accept the dispute, click the Accept button

Every chargeback, retrieval, or pre-arb has a reply-by date listed in the Braintree Control Panel. At 12am on this date you will lose the opportunity to submit evidence. The time zone for your account was established during the application process; to see your current time zone settings, navigate to Settings > Processing > Time Zone.

Each chargeback, retrieval, or pre-arb also has a reason code (see list below), which helps you determine what action you should take. We provide specific recommendations in the Braintree Control Panel based on the reason code, but there are some general guidelines to keep in mind for each type of dispute.


When a cardholder disputes a transaction with their bank, this is called a chargeback. The transaction amount is immediately debited from your bank account and held by the bank until a resolution is determined. The bank then gives you the opportunity to submit evidence against the cardholder's claim and evaluates any documentation you provide. If the bank rules in your favor, the transaction amount will be returned to your bank account; if you lose or accept the chargeback, the cardholder will keep the funds. Regardless of the outcome, you will be charged a $15 chargeback fee.

Accepting a chargeback

When you accept a chargeback, the funds will be issued to the cardholder and you will still be charged a $15 chargeback fee. Accepting a chargeback indicates that you don't wish to take any further action, but it doesn't necessarily imply that you agree with the cardholder's claim.

Merchants typically accept chargebacks if the transaction amount is minor enough that it doesn't justify the work of submitting evidence, or if the transaction is known to be fraudulent. The latter is particularly true when a merchant receives a chargeback for an American Express transaction; they are strong advocates for their cardholders, and as a result merchants are usually at a disadvantage when the chargeback is related to fraud.

Disputing a chargeback

If you would like to contest a chargeback, you can Dispute it. The evidence you provide to help identify the validity of the transaction will be passed on to the bank for review. If the bank rules in your favor, the transaction amount will be returned to your bank account; if you lose, the funds will remain in the cardholder's account. Regardless of the outcome, you will be charged a $15 chargeback fee.

Any pertinent information regarding the history of the original transaction will be automatically included in your claim if you dispute the chargeback in the Braintree Control Panel. If you have additional evidence, you can choose to include information in the text box and/or upload relevant attachments by clicking Attach Image.

Every chargeback is different, so the evidence you provide will vary depending on the reason code (see list below) and the documents you have available. Helpful items may include, but are not limited to:

  • Tracking information from a shipment, particularly if a signature was obtained at the time of delivery
  • Documentation of the cardholder's agreement to terms of service that indicates both the cardholder's name and email address
  • Emails or other correspondence with the cardholder that support your case
  • Evidence of replacements already sent to the cardholder


A retrieval is a request for information about an unidentifiable charge. Unlike chargebacks and pre-arbs, funds are not removed from your bank account, and you will not be charged a fee to process the retrieval.

To lower the risk of a retrieval turning into a chargeback, we recommend that you Dispute the retrieval and provide information that will help the cardholder identify the transaction.

If the cardholder initiated the inquiry due to suspected fraud, it's usually best to issue a refund. Retrievals filed with a fraud-related reason code (see list below) often become chargebacks despite any evidence submitted, so refunding the cardholder may help you avoid the chargeback fee.


A pre-arbitration, or pre-arb, occurs when a chargeback is filed, the merchant wins, and the cardholder disputes the charge for a second time. While you can dispute pre-arbs, it's been our experience that merchants rarely win these cases without the introduction of new and compelling evidence.

To help determine what you should do when you receive a pre-arb, you'll want to take a look at the original evidence that was submitted by both you and Braintree. From the Disputes page, click on the corresponding Dispute ID, then click the link next to Original Evidence to download a PDF that contains this information.

If you have additional evidence you can dispute the pre-arb in the same way you would dispute a chargeback; if you don't have additional evidence, it is usually best to accept it. Regardless of the final outcome, you will still be charged a $15 fee to process the pre-arb.

Dispute Statuses

  • Open: The chargeback, retrieval, or pre-arb has been issued and no action has been taken yet
  • Accepted: You have opted out of providing evidence for the chargeback or pre-arb
  • Disputed: You have submitted evidence against the claim and are waiting for the decision from the bank
  • Won: The bank has ruled in your favor, and the funds should return to your bank account within 2-3 business days
  • Lost: The bank has not ruled in your favor, and the funds will remain with the cardholder
  • Expired: The reply-by date to submit evidence has passed and you have forfeited your right to dispute the claim
    • Dispute reason codes

      • Credit not processed: The cardholder was told they would receive a refund and did not
      • Duplicate: The individual charge was submitted more than once
      • Fraud: The cardholder is claiming this transaction to be fraudulent
      • General: A generic response was provided by the card-issuing bank
      • Invalid account: The card was expired, had an invalid account number, or had an account number that did not match the card number of the original transaction
      • Not recognized: The cardholder claims they do not recognize/did not participate in this charge
      • Product not received: The cardholder did not receive (or only partially received) the goods/services they paid for
      • Product unsatisfactory: The cardholder received the goods/services, but the product was defective, different than described, or otherwise did not meet expectations
      • Transaction amount differs: The cardholder claims the final amount charged was different than what they agreed to pay
      • Cancelled recurring transaction: The cardholder was billed for a recurring charge that they cancelled or attempted to cancel

      Disputes Report

      On the Disputes page in the Braintree Control Panel, there is an option to run a Disputes Report. This report will provide you with a line-by-line breakdown that shows every status change in your transactions' dispute history. For example, you might see one line item that represents when the dispute was Opened, another line item that represents when the dispute was Disputed, and a final line item that represents when the dispute was Won.

      Preventing disputes

      There are a few best practices that can help lower the number of chargebacks and retrievals issued against your account:

      • Be upfront with your customers. Make sure that your Terms of Service and refund policy are easy to find and understand.
      • Be accessible. Make it easy for your customers to contact you if they have questions or issues. We recommend that you clearly display your contact information on each page of your website.
      • Make sure your descriptor is clear. Your descriptor controls the way that your company name appears on your customer's bank statements. Make sure that this clearly identifies your company and gives them contact information in case they need to get in touch with you. If you are unsure how your descriptor appears on your customers' bank statements, contact the BigCommerce Support team for more information.

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