When you report a charge you don't recognize to your credit card company, they tell you they'll look into it. Actually disputing a charge can be costly and stressful so they usually start by requesting a copy of the sales receipt from the merchant. Most of the time you end up paying anyway because the receipt reveals that it's a valid transaction billed under a name you don't recognize, or maybe you forgot about that drunken taxi ride home or those extra lap dances or whatever. Sometimes the cardholder is really a victim of fraud or the merchant never responds to the request, and that's when a dispute is actually opened. In non-response situations, the cardholder's bank processes a certain type of dispute which the merchant is not allowed to rebut. Our merchants find this unfair, but Visa and MasterCard regulations give them ample time to respond to these requests so there's really no excuse.
I had inform one of our merchants recently of two such disputes, but I accidentally entered a due date into the software that generates our form letters. When you enter a due date, a paragraph prints out that explains how and when the merchant should respond to the letter. If you don't enter a date, that paragraph is omitted. Anyway, the merchant finally provided the requested information, and I had the unhappy task of sending out an "I'm sorry for the error but Visa regulations offer us no recourse" fax.
When the merchant's bank received my fax, they wrote a note on the coversheet which said, and I quote: "Colin needs a more legible copy of the sales draft. Make sure the signature is readable."
Did they bother (and I ask only because I enjoy typing so much) to read the fax I sent?!
I do not usually speak directly to our clients. We have account managers for that, and they're much better at customer service than I will ever be. I've taken this matter to one of them, and he's happy "get yelled at" for me -- it's what he gets paid for. I appreciate it.