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As the COVID-19 situation continues to impact travel businesses and lives worldwide, we are here to support you as best as possible
Thomas Helldorff, VP of Airlines & Travel at Worldpay and author of the Airline Payments Handbook, has answered some of the key questions travel companies and airlines are asking us. Please note we will add and update these questions as the situation evolves so please do check back:
We are processing a large amount of refunds, what do we need to consider?
In order to avoid negative collections, please contact your Relationship Manager to make sure you have sufficient funds with Worldpay in case your refunds exceed your sales volumes. Consider reviewing payment methods that do not allow automated refunds as these can add additional burden in such situations. If you are processing a refund, communicate clearly about how and when your customers will receive their money back. Allow a couple of weeks for the transaction to be executed by all parties and the funds to appear on your customer’s bank statement. Setting the right expectations can reduce later customer service queries and potential chargeback requests.
Can travel companies expect a massive rise in disputes and how can we protect ourselves?
Card schemes allow cardholders to log a dispute with their card issuers in case of non-delivery of service as a result of COVID-19 flight cancellations. Given the unprecedented situation and impact on operational processes due to high volumes, an increase in disputes and chargebacks is certainly likely (even if refunds are processed in a timely manner). To protect your business, ensure that you have the knowledge, processes and teams in place to help you defend against them (for those use cases where chargebacks are not allowed by the schemes or a refund is already processed). Worldpay is working with the card schemes to extend chargeback timelines and freeze chargeback monitoring programs. Please check back here frequently for more information.
If airlines are issuing travel vouchers instead of refunds, what do we need to take into consideration?
Unless formally regulated by local governments, airlines are not allowed to reject refund requests from customers and only offer a voucher (or an alternative non-cash form of credit). A customer therefore needs to opt in to accept a voucher. It’s crucial that airlines check government rules by country as they may vary.
IATA (International Air Transport Association) is supporting airlines by lobbying on their behalf with regulators and schemes. IATA are doing their best to help airlines in their efforts to offer vouchers as a way to keep their cash flow intact. Please check IATA's website for more information.
How will airlines report vouchers issued and redeemed to the acquirers to enable monitoring of the acquirer's exposure?
Issuing a voucher will extend the liability period ("exposure") for the acquirer. In case of a bankruptcy, the cardholder will be allowed to chargeback the original transaction if the voucher is not yet redeemed (or expired and refunded). The most common method to issue vouchers is by making use of EMD’s (Electronic Miscellaneous Document, see also IATA guide). Airlines will have to engage with their PSS provider to schedule daily reporting that can be shared with their acquirer(s). This reporting will have to include a link to the original booking and vouchers issued, redeemed, expired and refunded. Level 2/3 data needs to be included for the acquirer to keep track of the departure dates. It is possible that IATA will come up with a standard file format (e.g. HOT file), but please check back here for more information as this hasn’t been confirmed yet.
Travel vouchers are issued to the lead passenger and not to the cardholder. How will this impact customer disputes?
In case of third-party bookings, the cardholder will need to be informed about the voucher being issued (cc’d on the communication with the passenger).
We have received reports of businesses being contacted by callers claiming to be representatives of a merchant services provider. These callers are telling merchants that their current provider is shutting down due to the COVID-19 situation. They proceed to tell the merchant they need to switch processors to continue accepting electronic payments.
If your business is targeted, please know that this is part of a scam and not legitimate. Worldpay will continue to be your trusted partner and support your payment processing needs.
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