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Gaming affiliate’s guide to chargebacks

As a gaming affiliate, chargebacks are a part of the business you’ll have to deal with sooner or later, if you’re not already. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you won’t have to deal with them nearly as much as you would have five or ten years ago.

What are chargebacks?
A chargeback is when a credit or debit card purchase is refunded, because the card holder:
• Didn’t recognize the charges;
• Didn’t receive what was purchased;
• Was charged more than once for the same purchase;
• Was wrongly charged because of a processing issue; and/or
• Was charged a different amount than what was originally agreed upon.

And before you jump to the obvious conclusion, be aware: Chargebacks are processed only after a full investigation has occurred. Someone who gambled and lost can’t simply get their money back by claiming not to have spent the money in the first place. They have to prove it.

If they do prove it, and the chargeback is successful, then it’ll be deducted from your earnings and listed as a chargeback on your monthly affiliate statement.

Or at least, that’s how all this is supposed to work. In the casino affiliate world, chargebacks are often associated with accusations of fraud and bonus abuse — and not without some justification. Bonus abuse does happen, and it’s not always caught by the processor or casino, as it should be. And this, of course, can be a problem — emotions tend to run high when those kinds of accusations are thrown around.

Affiliates should understand that most operators are licensed in their respective jurisdictions and would not knowingly commit any sort of fraud or other illicit behavior that could put that license at risk. The right attitude is to work with the operator when addressing chargebacks, not against the operator. At least, that’s how you should start out.

Know the rules
For lots of affiliates, chargebacks are a non-issue. Many veteran affiliates offer targeted, niche sites that appeal to high-level players — not the kind that typically rack up deposit bonuses and then try to get their money back.

Still, problems with chargebacks are always possible, for any affiliate or operator. That’s why each operator describes its policy toward chargebacks in the terms and conditions provided to affiliates.

“Chargebacks are deducted in the month they are charged,” specifies LiveCasinoPartners. Any operator with whom you do business should offer the same kind of clarity on their chargeback policy — and you should hold them to it.

Is the chargeback policy fair? Are administrative fees lumped in with chargebacks in a way you’re not comfortable with? It’s best to get answers to these questions before you start to do business with an operator.

When you understand how chargebacks are supposed to occur with an operator, you have the power to look at your affiliate statement and spot legitimately suspicious chargeback activity.

Timing. Typically, chargebacks should appear no later than three months after the original purchase. In some countries, though, those rules are different; check where your operator is licensed to find out whether you should expect something different.

Consistency. If you see inconsistency, particularly with the same operator, or if you realize you’re getting more chargebacks now than you were before, and those are all coming from the same source, that’s a warning sign.

Amount. If you do have to take a chargeback hit, make sure it’s the proper amount. In other words, make sure you’re only paying back the commission you earned in the first place, and not the entire amount the player deposited.

Patterns. If you’re getting a lot of chargebacks from one operator, and haven’t been able to resolve the issue with the affiliate manager, you’ve got a valid reason to start phasing out your business with that program.

What to do if you suspect an unfair chargeback:
Communicate with your AM. If you have any suspicions, express them immediately to your affiliate manager — before you go making accusations in the forums. There’s a chance that if fraud is present, the affiliate program isn’t aware of it, either. At any rate, give them a chance to sort things out before starting a flame war online for the whole world to see.

Get on the forum. If you’re concerned about a chargeback or series of chargebacks you’re being faced with a particular operator, get together with other gaming affiliates and see what their experiences have been. See if their records of deposits and chargebacks syncs up with yours. The CAP Forum, of course, is the ideal place to do that.

The final word is yours
Have you had bad experiences with chargebacks? Sound off in the comments and share your experience and advice.