A Lesson in Handling Declined Credit Cards

A Lesson in Handling Declined Credit Cards

We spend a lot of time here on our blog talking about the importance of communicating billing and payment information and how to find the right billing platform to help you do that. Recently we ran into an issue with a vendor we use for marketing automation who hasnt implemented the tactics we so often talk about so we thought wed share the story as an example of what NOT to do.

Just like many other business and individuals, there was some suspicious activity on our credit card recently. Just as we hope and expect, our bank immediately brought it to our attention, cancelled the existing card and issued a replacement, which of course kicked off a series of credit card declines. None of this is surprising declined credit cards are a very common occurence. What did take us by surprise was suddenly having access to our marketing automation and CMS abruptly halted.


How could they have handled this better and eliminated the need to unexpectedly cut off our service?

  • First and foremost, using Auto Updater would have automatically updated the account to reflect the new card. This is how our card was updated with some of our other, more sophisticated vendors.
  • We always recommend sending out a series of emails with progressively stronger messages about the consequences of not updating the payment information. Be clear in these messages about exactly how much time the user has to update the information before service will be cut off. Most people will instinctively ignore emails with the same subject/message if sent repeatedly 7 days in a row so be sure to vary the message.
  • Once service was cut off, we immediately called the company to discuss the issue and update our billing information. Unfortunately, a week passed before anyone returned our call. You must ensure you are accessible to your customer using whatever means of communication they choose whether its a phone call, a self-service portal, email, etc.

The reality is that people and businesses have their credit cards tied to SO many accounts that updating each one individually is unrealistic. Any business, especially those using recurring billing, must be proactive in implementing every tool at their disposal to receive payment as quickly as possible and as conveniently as possible for the consumer.

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