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SAN FRANCISCO – Visa USA, the largest card issuing association in the country, has gone public with the changes it has begun to put into place designed to streamline and automate its process for credit card dispute resolution. “Most card disputes will be resolved within just one billing cycle,” the association predicted in a press release. “All stakeholders will benefit from a dispute resolution process that provides them with better access to information, more options for communicating, and ultimately faster resolution of their disputes,” said Dave Van Horn, Vice President of Visa USA. “This transformation represents a win-win solution to dispute resolution issues.” According to Van Horn, initial system upgrades were a significant factor in the 21% decline of items charged back in 2002, resulting in approximately $238 million in fewer losses, a significant savings for merchants. Issuing banks are also achieving a dramatic savings of time and money from the simplified process, he added. Cardholders may now receive quick and accurate answers to questions regarding their purchases, which will help avert many disputes. In fact, initial changes implemented by various banks have already received positive feedback from their cardholders, according to Van Horn. “Reducing the number of chargebacks means happier customers and an even greater appreciation of the Visa brand,” he said. Melinda Stickley, Vice President for Customer Service for Certegy Card Services, the Alpharetta credit card processor for many credit unions, reported that some of Visa’s principal changes include streamlining the procedures for conflict resolution and automating a process that had previously been heavily reliant on paper. “We have imaging technology here,” Stickley said, “and whereas we currently have to send paper documents to the acquiring financial institution and the card issuing institution, now we can send images of them electronically” over Visa’s network. Stickley also explained that VISA has cut out some of the steps of dispute resolution. Currently, the card issuing institution has 120 days to submit a charge back to the acquiring institution. The acquiring institution then has 45 days to resubmit the charge and the issuing institution has another 45 days to issue a second charge back before the whole dispute winds up in arbitration, Stickley explained. “What Visa has done has been to cut out the second charge back step,” she said. Now after a resubmission, if there is still a problem, the dispute will proceed directly to arbitration, she added. Stickley acknowledged that greater technology has been part of this change, but also noted that the Federal government’s Regulation Z mandated that credit card conflicts be resolved within 60 days. “I think both Visa and MasterCard are doing whatever they can to make sure that they get closer to that mark,” she said.

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