Chargeback stages and timeline

Whenever a dispute is claimed by a paying customer, the chargeback process that follows is very complex. This process varies between card schemes in terms of terminologies, but the overall process and stages remain the same. 

Responding to a chargeback claim can follow these three stages:

  1. Second presentment
  2. Pre-arbitration
  3. Arbitration

Second presentment

When a dispute is filed against a transaction, merchants have the option to either accept the dispute or provide evidence against it. This is called the second presentment stage. If the issuing bank chooses to accept the document proof provided by merchant, the merchant wins the case, otherwise the case moves into the pre-arbitration stage. Safepay helps you to fight second presentment through its dashboard, read more about it here

Merchant will have 10 days to respond to chargeback claim (second presentment stage)


After the second presentment, if the issuing bank is not satisfied with the documents and evidence provided by the merchants, the case moves into the pre-arbitration stage. In pre-arbitration, the issuing bank reverts back to the merchant through official channels and asks for further proof. This is the last stage where merchants and issuing bank can settle the dispute amongst each other before it goes into the arbitration stage. In the pre-arbitration stage, merchants can either choose to accept the the chargeback just like first presentment or can go ahead and decline the chargeback. Declining the chargeback will the case into arbitration stage. Once a case moves into the pre-arbitration stage, Safepay will reach out to its merchants via email to collect more evidence. 

Merchant will have  10 days to respond to chargeback in pre-arbitration stage.


Arbitration is the final stage of the process. Once the merchant rejects the chargeback claim during pre-arbitration stage, the case moves into the arbitration stage. In the arbitration stage, card scheme gets involved. At this point it gets well established that the merchant and issuing bank are unable to resolve this case on their own and need a third set of eyes to close the case, which is the card scheme. No further evidence is requested from the merchant. The card scheme makes a decision based on the existing evidence where the losing party is charged a hefty fee by the scheme.

Once case is in arbitration stage, card scheme can take up to 60 days to make a final decision.

If you want to know more about what a chargeback is, please read here.

When a chargeback is claimed, it is always better for the merchant to prevent the case from escalating to the arbitration stage. Not only does it ruin merchant's relationship with its paying customer, it also is a very time consuming process taking up to 90 days. It is also generally noticed that once the case reaches the arbitration stage, there are very high chances of merchant losing and paying the fee.
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