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Return/Cancellation Policy on School Donation website/giving page

  • 1.  Return/Cancellation Policy on School Donation website/giving page

    Posted 07-08-2021 11:54 AM

    Hi everyone, 

    We had a complaint recently from a donor through our processing vendor that claims they made a donation, canceled the donation and we got the below dispute from merchant services. The vendor would not provide the donor's name in order for us to even confirm/deny the charge;  we would happily credit the donor if the charge was made and we had the name.

    My question is whether we are required to have a return/cancelation policy on our website and or donation giving form? Do other schools have that and can you provide that language or resource I can refer to my finance office? Thank you in advance for your insight. 

    Dispute Amount: 200.00

    Case Status: Consumer Dispute - Pre-Arb Received Local Tran/Source Amount:

    Cardholder Billing/Destination Amount :' Explain why credit presented does not apply:

    Pre-Arbitration Initiation Reason: Thank you for your response. The merchant response however does not remedy the dispute under this condition code 13.7 our cardholder stated in the dispute that they cancelled this transaction on 05/28/2021 and no policy was provided. As per documents provided there is no cancellation policy disclosed to the card member at the  time of purchase and merchant  failed to provide proof that proper disclosure of policy was given to the card member before payment was made as per Visa regulations. For Internet transactions, the merchant is to display the return and/or cancellation policy at the time of the order, before payment is made, on the checkout screen, or within the sequence of screens they are required to access during the checkout procedure. A link to the policy is not sufficient. The document received does not prove that the merchant complied with these guidelines. Moreover, the merchant needs to provide the screenshot of the page while our customer was trying to make the payment online. Our cardholder had no recourse other than disputing the charge with us. Please issue the requested credit to maintain good customer relations. Thank you.

    Kate Lynch
    Director of Advancement Services
    Concord Academy

  • 2.  RE: Return/Cancellation Policy on School Donation website/giving page

    Posted 07-08-2021 11:59 AM

    I believe you can find ours at the download site! I think John put it there many moons ago.




    Aaron Forrest CPA

    Senior Director Gift and Donor Services

    University of Rochester Office of Advancement

    Larry and Cindy Bloch Alumni and Advancement Center

    300 East River Road

    Rochester NY 14627

    Office 585.275.2799 / Fax 585-273-4558



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  • 3.  RE: Return/Cancellation Policy on School Donation website/giving page

    Posted 07-08-2021 12:07 PM
    Here's another one I just found:

    John H. Taylor
    John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC
    2604 Sevier St.
    Durham, NC   27705
    919.816.5903 (cell/text)

    Serving the Advancement Community Since 1987

  • 4.  RE: Return/Cancellation Policy on School Donation website/giving page

    Posted 07-08-2021 02:22 PM
    Thank you for sharing those examples, but can someone clarify whether:

    1) a donation return/cancellation policy legally needs to exist?
    2) if so, where does it physically have to appear, on the giving form itself (as in where the donor enters their cc information) or only on the school's website?

    The language sent to us by merchant services makes it seem like the policy would have to appear on the giving form but I haven't seen that on other giving forms.

    Kate Lynch
    Director of Advancement Services
    Concord Academy

  • 5.  RE: Return/Cancellation Policy on School Donation website/giving page

    Posted 07-08-2021 04:04 PM
    Hi Kate,

    Regarding your situation, your payment gateway is supposed to reach out to you to acquire evidence regarding this dispute over why you did not cancel a transaction - e.g. that you did provide the service in question or that you have a no refunds policy (a code 13.7 dispute). But it appears that they did not, and perhaps simply provided evidence that the customer authorized the payment -- which is usually important, but not in a 13.7 dispute. The customer's bank has responded appropriately, saying "uh, this isn't responsive to the issue." 

    What your vendor should do is dispute the code itself, by providing evidence that the transaction was a donation to a 501c3 charity, and that no goods or services were received. A donation is, by definition, an irrevocable gift.  Your receipt to the donor would be that evidence, since it contains language defining the gift as a donation. 

    If this was a recurring gift, and the donor tried to cancel it, or claims to, in that case, your vendor (and you) should request evidence of the cancellation. You should also make clear to your vendor that the donor never reached out to you to resolve the dispute. Note that everything happening so far is pre-arbitration, largely automated, and nobody is looking that carefully at your issue yet.

    I'm also a bit confused about what's up with your vendor in terms of information sharing. They are supposed to be getting information from you, but if they won't tell you who the donor is, or provide a transaction id so you can look it up, there's now way you can provide evidence. If your vendor is denying you this information, you have a claim against them - they should be liable to the donor, not you.

    On to your questions:

    1 - There is not a law that says that you have to have a donation refund policy. There is a Visa policy that says that if you don't properly disclose your refund policy, you will be held liable for disputes regarding returns, cancellations, and exchanges. As discussed above, a donation is not for any merchandise, and thus a refund/cancellation policy doesn't really apply, though in case of recurring gifts, you do need to have a method for cancellation that you disclose. We could argue that technically donations are by definition not refundable, and that a charity that issues a refund is not technically refunding money, since a refund means the donor has a right to the money, which a donor does not. One could argue that simply by calling it a donation, you're informing donors that the gift is irrevocable.

    2 -  However... compliance with Visa is really simple. You just need one line in your checkout flow that says 'All donations are final" - park it right next to your c3 disclosure. The official language from Visa's Core Rules is 

    " For Transactions at an Electronic Commerce Merchant, during the sequence of pages before final checkout, and include a "click to accept" button, checkbox, or other acknowledgement. The disclosure may be a link to a separate page if that link forms part of the "click to accept" acknowledgement and refers to the return, refund, or cancellation policy."

    Other than the one line statement, another common way to do this is a text like "By continuing, you agree to our Terms and Conditions" and then put the donation policy at the link. Or park it in a privacy policy, which folks must acknowledge (often by just continuing, rather than checking off something specific). 

    Thank you,
    Isaac Shalev
    Data Strategy Expert
    Sage70, Inc.
    (917) 859-0151

    Schedule a 30-minute consultation now: