Disputes and disagreements regarding payments are a scenario every business processing transactions will likely encounter at some point. Payment disputes (also known as Chargebacks) can be filed by a payer with their credit card company or financial institution anytime, anywhere, and for any type of transaction. Once filed, the payer's credit card company or financial institution will begin an investigation to ultimately determine if the payer wins (receives their money back) or loses (does not receive their money back) the dispute.
brightwheel is not a payment processor and has no control over a payer deciding to file a dispute on a charge, but we do want to ensure you are aware of what happens once a dispute is filed, how a dispute may affect your program, and what steps you can take if this uncommon situation affects you.
Table of Contents
In the rare case of this happening, we make every effort to support providers and have a dedicated team ready to assist. The method of payment (ACH or Credit Card) is a determining factor in what options are available when a dispute is filed.
Please see our Understanding Disputed Charges resource for an extensive overview of ACH and Credit Card payment disputes.
Disputes filed on ACH payments by a student contact (the payer) can be challenging. ACH payments are electronic bank-to-bank transfers processed through the Automated Clearing House and there are three strict reasons this type of payment method can be disputed (never authorized, wrong date, wrong amount).
If a student contact submits a formal request in writing to dispute a payment made to your program, the bank will decide whether or not to accept the dispute. Brightwheel will notify you if an ACH dispute is filed, but if the bank decides to accept the dispute, it will be automatically resolved in the student contact’s favor.
NACHA is the governing body that sets the rules for ACH payment processing and while they do allow a payer to dispute an ACH payment, they do not allow anyone to formally fight the dispute. Brightwheel is on your side, but because of this regulation, there is, unfortunately, nothing we can do to challenge the dispute on your behalf.
Once an ACH dispute has been filed, providers have a couple of options:
Reach out to the student contact for additional context on the dispute to work together and find a resolution to move forward
Take legal action (e.g. small claims court)
We do suggest requiring a parent deposit as a form of insurance/protection at your program, so if this scenario does affect you or has already affected you, you can be prepared and have the deposit to ideally cover any losses.
We are here to support you during a dispute, but if a student contact chooses to go this route, brightwheel, unfortunately, has no control over the process or outcome.
Credit Card Disputes
When a payer disputes a credit card transaction, brightwheel will make every effort to support the provider.
If possible, it's ideal for the program and parent to connect offline to resolve the dispute. If a dispute is not dropped, brightwheel will connect with the billing administrator to initiate the next steps:
brightwheel will send an email outlining the dispute process and request that the billing administrator submit any evidence available to prove the charge is valid.
Please Note: The billing administrator has 5 business days to submit this evidence.
In the automated email, we will provide a form for you to submit. Provide the following information when submitting evidence via the form:
Details regarding the disputed charge
A copy of the parent's signature from the handbook/tuition agreement and any information available that outlines tuition amounts and additional charges (supplies, meals, t-shirts, etc).
Any communication with the parent regarding the disputed charges/original payments, such as brightwheel messages, text messages, or emails.
Once brightwheel receives the requested evidence, we will submit it to our payment processor
Our payment processor will send the submitted evidence to the payer's credit card company
Once we've provided the evidence, we are not privy to details of the credit card companies investigation but will notify you when they have reached a decision. If the student contact wins the dispute, the funds will be returned to them. If they lose, the funds would be retained by the provider and not returned to the student contact.
Please Note: If you are contemplating taking any actions on a disputed charge such as refunding/providing a credit, please contact email@example.com to discuss what is best first.
Viewing Disputed Charges
Please Note: The capability to see more detailed information on disputes in your brightwheel account was released in January 2022 and will only be available for disputes initiated after that time period.
Go to the Billing page on the web
To view a full list of Payments for your program:
From the At a Glance tab, open the Payments tab
View the 'Payment status' column for insight
To view Payments for a specific student:
Open the Students tab
Next, click the All transactions tab
Finally, click the Credits & Payments tab
View the 'Payment Status' column for details
Disputed Payment Statuses
For payments being disputed, you can view their status by following the steps above. Parents will also be able to see dispute statuses in their accounts. The statuses related to disputes you may see as an administrator are:
This means the dispute is ongoing and remains open. By hovering over the question mark icon, you will see a hyperlink that directs you to the Credit Card Disputes section of this article for steps on how to submit evidence and fight the dispute.
This means the dispute was won by the payer and lost by the program and therefore, the payer received their money back. For ACH Disputes specifically, the bank will automatically side with their customer (the parent) and close the dispute in their favor. ACH disputes will only ever show this status.
Disputes are generally initiated for the full amount of a payment. If the dispute is filed and the payer wins, the amount of the payment and any processing fees will be withdrawn from the program’s deposit account.
This means the dispute was won by the program and lost by the payer and therefore, the payer did not receive their money back.
Impacts to Deposits & Invoices
In the instance that a credit card company rules in favor of a parent, that institution could withdraw the money from the service provider. Credit card companies have the power to pull back funds, which in turn will be pulled from future deposits to the deposit account. This may result in a negative deposit.
If any payment on an invoice is disputed, the entire invoice will be voided. Any payments applied to the invoice not involved in the dispute will be applied as Credits to the payer's brightwheel account.