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I decided I'd write something on this since it seems to be affecting a lot of my friends and artists I'm close to. I'll start with a few disclaimers.

Disclaimer 1:
I am not a finance expert. I have never filed a chargeback nor have I been in a chargeback dispute (fortunately). I have done some research out of both curiosity and out of desire to help out the community a bit. This is going to be quick(ish) and summarized. I'm also going to be changing some things to the way I sell as well (obviously).

Disclaimer 2:
This journal isn't about what to do in a chargeback dispute but rather, how to set up your sales so that you'll have the upper hand when having to deal with a dispute. I've included some useful links at the bottom for further information!

Regular Payments / ABs

Some believe that Paypal does not help in disputes over digital goods but a policy change last year says otherwise.
To understand what will help you in a dispute objectively, Paypal has a page of information here which I'm going to try to summarize and go into.

The primary reason for a Paypal chargeback is that the buyer did not receive the purchased item.
When people are selling digital goods on deviantArt, or any platform for that matter, having proof that your customer received their item is essential. Here are some examples of what you can do post-purchase to have that sort of proof.

1. When sending a file, include a message asking for the customer to confirm that they have received or downloaded the file. An extra step would be to remind them that they are abiding by a TOS if you have one or that they are confirming the end of the transaction. An example:

"I have received your payment! Here is the unmarked file/art/design/etc: [link or file]
Please respond to this message confirming that you have saved the file and that you agree to the TOS/approve of this transaction."

*Remember that you can search sent notes by user and you can check if they read the note as well!

2. The second option is somewhat of a hassle but if you host the files on an external sharing website (privately of course) you may have the option to track the number of downloads and have that archived in the submission itself as opposed to a screenshot but Paypal does accept screenshots when you are contesting a chargeback!

The second reason for a Paypal chargeback is a significant difference in the advertised good and the good that the customer received.
There's really only one solution to this and that is to be very clear about what you're selling and to stay as close to that statement as possible. I've actually had issues with this in the past (on my end) that could have landed me in a lot of trouble. I've only recently started outlining what you receive with the commissions I do. I include something like a "what you will receive" section. 

Example from my commissions journal:
"What you receive:
- One flat color version of the design
- One shaded version of the design
- One full ref sheet including both versions and a pallet"

As for adopts, I just leave the information in my TOS (as the first section of course) and include a link in the description of the deviation. If you have a TOS, be sure to include a statement like "by purchasing, you are agreeing to the Terms of Service for my designs."
For commissions and customs, including examples of your work will also help in making it clear what the customer will receive!

The third reason for a Paypal chargeback is unauthorized transactions.
There's not too much that I know of that can help you if the account filing a chargeback uses this reason. However there is one thing you can do.

If using invoices (which you should definitely do for larger sums of money), when the customer pays the invoice, have them include their deviantArt username in the notes. This should be done in any case for both organizational reasons as well as helping you link the deviantArt account to the Paypal account when contesting the chargeback.

Other Notes
In general, it is good to have a written, accessible Terms of Service linked to any commissions listing or design sale.
Including a note in the description that by [action] user is agreeing to [rules or TOS] can help.
Keeping up with screenshots is a hassle but you are able to "save/archive" deviantArt notes. No one can really delete them except you (and not even then I don't think).

Payment Plans

This is definitely a much different section. The most chargeback incidents that I've seen have to do with an incomplete payment via payment plan.
Most designers I've seen that offer payment plans have used a down payment system, usually with a non-refundable portion, which is understandable since someone backing out would considerably inconvenience an independent artist. Like the above, here are a few things you can do to protect yourself in this scenario.

Since a payment plan does not guarantee an item being delivered to the customer immediately after partial payment, terms need to be clearly defined and agreed to.

1. Always try to have users note or message you before purchasing using a payment plan. This gives you the upper hand because with their initiation, they have already agreed to their proposal.

2. Define what the user receives for their partial payment. This could be anything so long as it is in writing. Something like "you have a claim on this design until the payment is completed or until the deadline." You could even go the extra mile and create a "ticket" for them, some sort of visible confirmation like a stash file that would be updated with the file/item once payment is completed.

3. If you have a non-refundable down payment, make that clear. This can either be in the description or in message etc.

Send Money vs. Request Money

Invoices can take a bit longer than the "send money for goods and services" option of Paypal but it does so much more for you in the long run.
When you request money from another account via invoice, you have the upper hand in a chargeback dispute. By sending an invoice, you are the one essentially laying out a platform for the customer to agree to your own terms. Invoicing is the same thing as billing except it is usually done prior to completing or sending art/digital goods.
Invoices will show you more information about the account that is paying (includes things such as name/shipping address etc. some of which you can view from "send money" but a few which you cannot). Scammers (from what I've seen) are more likely to coerce you into going with "send money for goods and services" but do not go for this option unless the customer is trusted.

DO NOT USE "SEND MONEY TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY" FOR COMMISSIONS, CUSTOMS, DESIGNS, OR ANYTHING THAT YOU ARE SELLING.
In a dispute, not only will you have a disadvantage but you will be in risk of consequences for tax evasion.

Invoices do not protect you from chargebacks. A chargeback can be filed for any transaction. Invoices just help in contesting.

Image and Post-chargeback Protection

On Paypal's page about understanding disputes, the first bullets talk about being proactive. In a situation in which a user informs you that they are filing a chargeback, respond to them in a timely manner with a respectful attitude (even if their's isn't so much). Restate your terms, it never hurts to remind your customer about what they agreed to. Offer to fix the situation if they make a complaint that falls outside of the transaction itself (another hassle, I know, but whatever you can do to make yourself look helpful and proactive will help).
Proof of negligence is the biggest advantage that a scammer can have when filing a chargeback even if the reason is absolutely ridiculous.

For awareness purposes, save the email address of the account for reference. You can save other information but so far I have only seen business accounts used in these disputes with names unrelated to a person or the username on dA.
Sharing someone's address or even just their name makes it much easier for them to report you for harassment (since it is definitely an invasion of privacy at that point). Generally you want to stay away from anything that has to do with the physical.

To conclude, here's a helpful link on how to best set up a preventive transaction for digital goods.

If I have any incorrect or incomplete information above, please let me know in the comments and I will update this journal promptly!
Feel free to share this journal as well if you'd like!


Add a Comment:
 
:iconlewdmon:
lewdmon Featured By Owner 1 day ago
No, no, this is good advice for Paypal merchants in general, even if Paypal's policies have changed to be more neutral, rather than obnoxiously skewed to the buyer's benefit. I'd go so far as to say Paypal itself doesn't make it this clear, and sellers really need to be informed as to the fickle nature of some buyers and what they can do to prevent themselves being taken advantage of. I wager this is getting spikes from people who probably don't even sell pictures, because I found it.
Reply
:iconemeraldkiarart:
emeraldkiarart Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2019  New Deviant Student Digital Artist
Am I the only one that uses paypal button links? Am I doing something wrong?
Reply
:iconulfeid3:
Ulfeid3 Featured By Owner Edited Mar 15, 2019  Professional Digital Artist
No, is not 'wrong' ( unless you're not using the 'family and friend' option to let people pay you for services!)
But if you are an artist and you are selling something, and you incur in a scam/chargeback, it will be more difficult for you to solve the situation since you don't use invoices. That's all :)
Reply
:iconemeraldkiarart:
emeraldkiarart Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2019  New Deviant Student Digital Artist
Thank you for answering :) I appreciate it
Reply
:iconulfeid3:
Ulfeid3 Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2019  Professional Digital Artist
:hug: Happy to help!
Reply
:iconpawpaul:
pawpaul Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2019  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm new to paypal so this helps a lot, thank you :D
still, that means we should ask for our client's pay pal account to send invoice?
Reply
:iconangellikeart777:
angellikeart777 Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2019  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you 
Reply
:iconkuri-darkie:
Kuri-Darkie Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2019
Thanks a lot for this ;; 
Bless u
Reply
:icontrace-memory:
trace-memory Featured By Owner Edited Feb 6, 2019
hey! could i add something to this?
payment plans can be completed via invoices! all the seller has to do is tick the box for "allow partial payment" :D also that anyone being faced with a chargeback for a character or custom design absolutely gets to keep the character or custom to resell if they do not get the money.
Reply
:iconruefion:
ruefion Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
as someone new to paypal and being somewhat anxious to use it, this is a huge helping hand. thank you for this! ^^
Reply
:iconnintendomain:
Nintendomain Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you for making this! Super helpful :)
Reply
:icondanielravits:
DanielRavits Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2018  Student Digital Artist
A friend of mine was chargedback by a client who after sometime of buying art, just didnt want the drawing anymore, what can one do when that happens?
Reply
:icontoripng:
toripng Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
I would say gather evidence of like- hours worked on commission etc. and also evidence of the customer originally agreeing to buy the art and contact Paypal to refute the chargeback.
Reply
:icondanielravits:
DanielRavits Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2018  Student Digital Artist
alright, noted thanks :)
Reply
:iconcoras-adoptables:
coras-adoptables Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks a lot for his post! It's really helpful.
Reply
:iconkirionek:
kirionek Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
oh dam I need this so much right now!
Reply
:iconsfox63:
SFox63 Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2016
I really hate paypal... the way they operate is just infuriating sometimes. (Used to be an Ebay Seller)
Reply
:iconyoshimiko-adopts:
Yoshimiko-Adopts Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you so much for this post!! :hug:
Reply
:icontoripng:
toripng Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
no problem!
Reply
:iconyoshimiko-adopts:
Yoshimiko-Adopts Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
^^ :hug:
Reply
:iconsilverpocky:
SilverPocky Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2016  Student Digital Artist
Ah thank you so much for writing this!
I only wish I had known this much two years back, a scammer bought $80+ worth of things before filing on me
I was so inexperienced I had no clue how to handle it and they got to keep the money, the design and art were reclaimed but it's still to this day not been rehomedd/sold

Anyway I'm definitely going to file all this away so I can be better protected in the future <33
Reply
:icontoripng:
toripng Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
You're welcome! I'm glad you find this useful ;v;
Reply
:iconsilken-angel:
silken-angel Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2016  Student General Artist
thank you, i will have to be more wary & cover myself a little better... this is very scary & very real, i hope i never have to deal with any of this. 
Reply
:icontoripng:
toripng Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
you're welcome! hopefully you won't have to deal with s/t like this
Reply
:iconarimwe:
Arimwe Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for writing this! I've been dying to find a good post for PayPal use, that is explained in a "simple" matter (and not using overly complicated words) and actually in a friendly way (and not telling it like the reader is some kind of idiot).

I am very inexperienced with PayPal, even though I haven't had commissions ever, it will help for further use! :D
Reply
:icontoripng:
toripng Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
I'm glad it comes off that way and that you found it useful! C:
Reply
:iconalfonshots:
Alfonshots Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2016  Student Digital Artist
Hug 
Reply
:icontackytician:
Tackytician Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2016  Student Digital Artist
y'all are fucking saints bless your soul(s)
I've seen so many artists get fucked over by chargebacks so thankyou for making this
:icondojimathumbsupplz:
Reply
:icontoripng:
toripng Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
No problem! I hope that people find it useful
Reply
:iconzagittorch:
Zagittorch Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
No idea about paypal's policy changes. When I researched this back in DEC '15, nothing turned up. Thanks :la:
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:icontoripng:
toripng Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
No problem! C:
Reply
:icontoripng:
toripng Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for adding! Yeah I had been reading up about chargebacks that go through card companies and there's few things that can be done unless you're able to somehow contact that company. I'm so sorry you've had to go through this!
I figured another protection would be to actually send a print (but goodness, if it's a lot of designs/art that gets tedious of course). Research is definitely preventive! I feel like from here on out I'm not going to sell to accounts that are a few days old or users who seem too young etc.
Reply
:iconpumpkinsugar:
PumpkinSugar Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2016
I sold to someone who had a DA account for 9 years, so I thought I would be okay (and they were like...32 based on their profile).  But upon further investigation, realized I was the first person he ever bought adopts from, and I didn't see him commissioning people either.  I feel like I have to be a detective now, haha.  Thankfully that person was really a minority as 90% of everyone else has a track record of buying designs or commissioning, so I would probably only do the major precautions like shipping a physical copy or something for first time buyers or buyers with 0 feedback or seem a little off-putting.
Reply
:iconofficial-maria-art:
official-maria-art Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
You cant judge someone based on how old their account is :) Someone can have a 10 year old deviantart account but no history of payed commissiones :D
My current account is new but I'm not a new user, I've had another account in the past (which is now deactivated). Regardless of how old my account is, I've never commissioned anyone in my life so, I could understand if the seller would be reluctant before accepting me.

Now, about another subject, may I ask you a question?
I've never done commisisons of my own, but I'd like to do some in the future, may I ask you for some advice?

You said that shipping a physical copy would be a good way to protect yourself from chargebacks but do you actually have the money to do that? I mean shipping things from one country to another costs A LOT of money. If I want to start doing commissions, and someone from, lets say, Australia, wants to commissions me, does this mean I would have to send the printed drawing to Australia?? That would cost me a lot, as I live very far away (in Europe), I'm not sure I could afford shipping things to another countries.
Reply
:iconpumpkinsugar:
PumpkinSugar Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2017
Yeah it's mostly for new accounts that don't give out any prior history.  Unfortunately most scams come from new accounts, so users are more weary of them.  But most know that new accounts are made by users all the time, so sometimes either you or the user themselves can ask for or provide prior accounts or some other form of verification to proof you've been around.  Usually paying an invoice will help ease the seller.

Shipping the item is an extreme case.  This journal was made a little while back, so I think Paypal is working on being more lenient towards sellers as long as they have good evidence.  Using invoices and also providing screenshots and proof the buyer consented to the purchase are usually good enough.  Most of us were thinking of ways we can work with Paypal's terms of service, and at the time, they were much easier to work with when the goods aren't digital or what they deem "intangible goods".  Most people can't afford to ship things from other countries, so you have to do what ever you actually can do to stay protected.  If you are really concerned about it, some people just choose to do Points Commissions, waiting the two weeks to transfer points to Paypal.  If you're a hobbyist who wants to do commissions and time isn't a factor for money you recieve, then doing it this way is fine as well.
Reply
:iconofficial-maria-art:
official-maria-art Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
well, yes, that's exactly what I'm planning :D

I don't really want to make art a professional career, so I might open point commissions instead of paypal commissions :D
I am a college student right now, but after graduation, I'll find myself a job and I won't need art to earn a living; so, I guess I can do points commissions only :D (cause I need points to extend my core)
Reply
:iconlilysplash:
Lilysplash Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2016
Thank you so much for this omg
I'll definitely keep this in mind!! ;v;
Reply
:icontoripng:
toripng Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
you're welcome! c:
Reply
:iconlilysplash:
Lilysplash Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2016
<3
Reply
:iconspicemallow:
Spicemallow Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2016   Digital Artist
Bless you for this. I was already aware of/practicing most of these things, but I definitely feel the need now to ask people to confirm that they have received and downloaded their file(s)... Definitely faving and sharing this journal - thank you so much! ;3;/
Reply
:icontoripng:
toripng Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
No problem!! stay safe c:
Reply
:iconfeather--weather:
feather--weather Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2016
Caveat - PayPal won't do shit for a buyer if they're duped and told to send $$$ via friends and family but they might still freeze the seller's account.. but not give the money back to the buyer. Or at least, that's the situation I found myself in with PayPal and a com I'm still trying to get after two freaking years.
Reply
:icontoripng:
toripng Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
Oh my god, that's awful! Generally I believe for both the buyer and seller's protection, "friends and family" option shouldn't be used for a few reasons (tax etc.).
I had no idea that it had another edge against buyers.
Reply
:iconfeather--weather:
feather--weather Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2016
yeah e3e

after that instance, i never used friends & family for commissions except for very certain circumstances (i.e., the commission was so small that it wasn't worth it, paying for points from someone i trusted, etc) and i refuse to deal with sellers who request that I use it. 

That's literally the only problem I've ever had with a seller and it's frustrating because they don't want to have any sort of dialogue to resolve the issue and keep claiming they sent the art even after I showed them that I have /nothing/ from them e3e
Reply
:iconchickolates:
Chickolates Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for explaining! <3
Reply
:icontoripng:
toripng Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
No problem!
Reply
:iconbrittydee:
BrittyDee Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
This is why I'm mainly comfortable with invoices!
Reply
:iconarboret:
arboret Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2016
i had no idea that paypal finally changed its policy on digital goods geez!!! thank you for making this really useful guide! *_*
Reply
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September 17, 2016
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