Mastering Credit Card Disputes: A Guide for Indoor Playground Owners to Safeguard Their Business

As an indoor playground owner, I KNOW that it’s just in your blood to always want to create a safe and enjoyable environment for children and their families. 

However, despite your best efforts, there WILL come a time here and there when your customers just do nasty things. It’s usually not to attack you or your business personally– but it DOES happen.

So in this article, we are talking about one of the LEAST fun times to be a business owner– when a customer files a credit card dispute against your business. 

Maybe their party wasn’t quite what they expected, or maybe they purchased event tickets and couldn’t attend, or maybe they forgot they signed up for that recurring monthly membership and forgot to cancel.

Again, this is just one of those things that happen when you run a business- so if you get that dreaded email that a customer filed a dispute against you– try not to freak out.

I know it’s easy to want to respond immediately- especially because what typically happens is that the funds are immediately withdrawn from your account while the credit card company or bank investigates both sides.

Because this money was very likely fairly earned and crucial to your business operations– your FIRST instinct will be to appeal– but here’s the thing– you only get ONE shot at this.

So in this article, I’m going to share my 7 best tips to effectively navigate the credit card dispute process and increase your chances of a successful resolution for your indoor playground business. 

Taking the time to gather the appropriate information and supporting documentation is crucial here– so even though this may not be the sexiest or most exciting topic– it IS important.


1) Understand the Dispute Process:

Before delving into the specifics, it's crucial to familiarize yourself with the credit card dispute process. Generally, there are three main stages: the customer's initial complaint, the investigation by the credit card company, and the final decision.

 Knowing these stages will help you strategize and present your case more effectively. And just know– credit card companies and banks tend to be more customer than business friendly- meaning they are more likely to side with the customer– so the next few steps are really important.

And also just know– this process can take many weeks. The last credit card dispute I ended up winning– it took 6 full weeks to see the money get put back into my account.

This is another reason why it’s so important to have working capital and reserves in your business– so these types of hindrances in your business don’t become catastrophes.


2) Maintain Clear and Comprehensive Documentation:

Documentation plays a pivotal role in winning credit card disputes. And even though I only get a few disputes a year– I have not lost one in several years because I have such solid documentation and processes.

So ensure that you maintain detailed records of all customer interactions, including reservations, waivers, contracts, and any other relevant communication.

If you're in Play Maker Society'-- you already have access to all of our attorney-developed waivers and contracts. But if you're not, it will be a worthwhile investment to hire a lawyer to create them to protect yourself and your business.

I have also provided screenshots of our checkout process in the past– showing that customers MUST check a box affirming that they understand our terms and conditions BEFORE they even enter their credit card information. I will also link to these terms and conditions when I am responding to the dispute– so the bank or credit card company can see exactly what that customer agreed to.

So to sum this one up, documentation will serve as evidence to support your claims and demonstrate the legitimacy of your business practices.


3) Respond Promptly and Professionally:

Once you receive notice of a credit card dispute, it's crucial to respond promptly and professionally as soon as you gather all of your supporting documentation and evidence. Take the time to thoroughly review the customer's complaint and gather any additional information necessary to address their concerns. Craft a concise, well-structured response that directly addresses each point raised by the customer. If they did not raise any specific concerns and simply reported the charge as fraud– your supporting documentation may be enough.


4) Emphasize the Customer Experience:

In your response, emphasize the customer experience and the steps you took to ensure their satisfaction. Highlight any safety measures, staff training programs, or special accommodations provided to the customer. By demonstrating your commitment to customer satisfaction, you strengthen your position and diminish the likelihood of the dispute progressing further.

This may seem like an extra unnecessary step– but further solidifying your legitimacy as a business can do nothing but help here– because unfortunately, there ARE businesses out there who take advantage of customers and commit fraud.

I have a google doc with about 90% of the supporting documentation and such already compiled for situations like this– and I simply copy and paste this information into my response and make tweaks based on that specific dispute. So even though this may seem really time consuming and daunting– you can re-use this work in the future if you ever find yourself in the same position again.


5) Seek Witness Statements or Testimonials:

If possible, gather witness statements or testimonials from other customers who can vouch for the quality of your indoor playground. These statements can serve as powerful evidence to support your case, particularly if they highlight positive experiences and satisfied customers.


6) Engage in Open Communication

Throughout the dispute resolution process, maintain open and respectful communication with the customer. Promptly address any further inquiries or concerns they may have and provide updates on the progress of the investigation.

By demonstrating your willingness to engage in a fair resolution, you show the credit card company your commitment to customer satisfaction.

What I will typically do is send an email letting them know we received their dispute and share examples of some of the evidence we will be providing in a friendly manner. I also always try to assume the best in people– and state that we are doing this to help clear up any confusion they may have had about the charges and NOT seem like we are going to war against them or anything like that.

Sometimes just a simple email like that can cause them to withdraw their dispute and make it unnecessary for the bank to investigate further.


7) Consult Legal Advice if Necessary

In complex cases or situations where substantial financial implications are at stake, like for example if someone disputed a birthday party charge for which services were already rendered–  it may be in your best interest to seek legal advice, especially if you end up losing or if it looks like you may lose based on the evidence you’re able to provide. 

Especially if you already paid for and delivered your service. An attorney experienced in credit card disputes can provide valuable guidance and help navigate the legal aspects of the process.

In summary, while credit card disputes can be challenging for service based business owners, a well-prepared and thoughtful approach can significantly increase the chances of a successful resolution. 

By maintaining meticulous documentation, responding promptly and professionally, and emphasizing the customer experience and your businesses legitimacy, you can present a compelling case that demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction. 

Remember to stay positive and engaged throughout the process, and if necessary, seek legal guidance to protect your business's best interests.


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