Since its very first days, Donald Trump’s unorthodox presidential campaign has been a lightning rod for controversy. Providing an object lesson for the CNP payments world, however, is unexpected even by Trumpian standards. Like many merchants, Trump and his campaign grasped the benefits of recurring transactions, allowing donors to set up monthly donations. According to CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond, however, Trump’s campaign is making it very difficult for donors who have a change of heart to cancel their recurring transaction. Ever since Diamond responded via Twitter to an email ostensibly from a Trump donor who couldn’t cancel his recurring donation despite calling the campaign headquarters, many news outlets have picked the story up. The resulting controversy has added another negative note to the barrage of bad press he has received over the past two weeks.
While declines and chargebacks are the main issues facing e-commerce merchants leveraging recurring billing, reputational damage can be a problem in cases like this. It can be tempting to make cancelling a recurring charge difficult in an attempt to retain the revenue, but best practices published by Visa Europe suggest otherwise. Among other suggestions in the event of a cancellation request, Visa Europe urges merchants to “check customer contact records daily for cancellation or non-renewal requests related to RTs,” “take the appropriate action and comply promptly,” and “notify the customer that the RT payment account has been closed.”
While few merchants are ever under the scrutiny that comes with being a presidential candidate, in an age of ubiquitous online reviews and access to media, not offering a simple and customer-friendly cancellation policy invites reputational damage in addition to the near certainty of chargebacks.