Credit Card Processing

What is a Retrieval Fee?

by Ben Dwyer

A retrieval fee is charged when a customer or the customer’s issuing bank requests a copy of a sales draft in order to substantiate a transaction. This is called a retrieval request, and most credit card processors charge a nominal retrieval fee to process a request.

A cardholder’s issuing bank sends a retrieval request to the processing bank. Then the processing bank sends the request to the business. At this point a processor will assess a retrieval fee.

A retrieval request does not involve the refund or reversal of a transaction. A reversal is only initiated if a chargeback occurs. Since retrieval fees are only charged when triggered by a retrieval request, they can be considered a “per-occurrence” fee. If there are no retrieval requests, you will not be charged a retrieval fee.


Reasons for Retrieval Request

Retrieval requests may be initiated by a cardholder or her bank for a number of different reasons including:

  • Cardholder inquires (e.g., a customer does not recognize a charge)
  • Cardholder disputes (e.g., an item arrives not as described)
  • Point-of-sale processing errors (e.g., a terminal does not pass all required line detail)
  • Fraud inquires (e.g., an issuing bank determines a transaction is outside the normal processing behavior of a cardholder)

Preparing for Retrieval Requests

Retrieval requests are issued to satisfy a question or to fulfill required information for a specific transaction. If a business is unable to supply the information requested, the issuing bank will likely initiate a chargeback.

The best way to prepare for retrieval requests is to abide by Visa and MasterCard regulations that require businesses to save sales receipts. Visa requires sales drafts to be saved for a minimum of three years, and MasterCard requires receipts to be saved for 180 days.

The preservation of sales records is much easier for businesses that utilize a POS system to electronically track and store data. Businesses that use terminals are forced to save paper receipts in an accessible file system, or scan paper receipts for digital storage.

Responding to a Retrieval Request

Responding to a retrieval request in a complete and timely fashion is crucial to maximize the chances that the retrieval does not result in a chargeback.

Provide any and all required documentation and return the package to your acquiring bank or processor via mail or fax within ten days. The acquiring bank will then forward the retrieval request to the issuing bank via fax, mail, or through the MasterCom system for request involving MasterCard transactions.

If the issuing bank does not receive a response within the allotted time (usually 30 days) it may issue a chargeback citing “Requested Item Not Received.” This type of chargeback is particularly bad because a business has no reversal rights. In other words, there is no way to reverse a chargeback due to “Requested Item Not Received.”

The following guidelines will help to ensure a retrieval request does not result in a “Requested Item Not Received” chargeback.

  • Ensure that the sales receipt is clearly legible, and all required information is present.
  • Ensure that the business name and contact information is clearly recognizable on the sales receipt.
  • Have an efficient procedure in place for retrieving sales transcripts to ensure requests are sent back in the allotted time.

Retrieval Requests & Chargebacks

Retrieval requests are not the same as chargebacks. In fact, retrieval requests can end without a chargeback. If the information provided for a retrieval request satisfies an issuing bank or cardholder’s inquiry, a chargeback will not occur.

If a business does not respond to a retrieval request in the allotted time, the information provided for the request is incomplete, illegible, or insufficient, a chargeback will likely be initiated.

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Ben Dwyer

BY Ben Dwyer

Ben Dwyer began his career in the processing industry in 2003 on the sales floor for a Connecticut‐based processor. As he learned more about the inner‐workings of the industry, rampant unethical practices, and lack of assistance available to businesses, he cut ties with his employer and started a blog where he could post accurate information about credit card processing. As the blog gained in popularity, Ben began directly assisting merchants in their search for a processor. Ben believes in empowering businesses by providing access to fair, competitive pricing, accurate information, and continued support. His dedication to transparency and education has made CardFellow a staunch small business advocate in the credit card processing industry.

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