Why has my collection been DECLINED?

If your payment has been rejected AFTER it was first processed by uCollect please see our help page “What to do when a payment fails.

When a collection is attempted in uCollect it is sent to a third party gateway for processing. There are actually several parties involved in the process – all of whom can decline the transaction along the way, some even after it was initially approved/received. The process works a little differently with Credit Cards than with Bank Accounts (ACH/PAD/Direct Debits).

Declining Credit Cards

You usually receive a decline on a credit card transaction immediately. We pass along to you whatever message is received from the payment processor – but this is often quite useless! Here are the most common reasons and some suggestions.

Reason Action
Generic Decline See suggestions below
Insufficient Funds Let uCollect keep trying until it succeeds or you tell us to stop (by suspending the invoice). We will keep notifying you every time it fails
You may contact the customer and ask for an alternate payment method.
Card Expired Contact the customer to update the credit card details (you can send an Invite)
Card Error Usually indicates a bad card number or a cancelled account. Contact the customer to update the credit card details (you can send an Invite)
Over limit Your gateway/processor may have established limits for your account that restrict the per-transaction, daily, or monthly amounts that you can process. uCollect will try again every day until it is successful. Contact your payment processor to discuss your limits.

At present uCollect does NOT contact the customer when a payment fails. We do notify the merchant administrator every time it fails (but we don’t tell you when it succeeds – no news is good news).

Here are some suggestions on how to investigate the generic declines. Please do not contact uCollect for assistance until you have done all these steps – we can’t get any more detail.

  1. Login to your gateway’s console (for example, Stripe’s Dashboard) and see if any more information is available.
  2. Contact the customer and ask them to check with their card issuer for the reason. Only the customer can do this. The card issuer will have a record of every single action that was sent to them and what happened to it, even if it wasn’t authorized.
  3. If the card issuer can see the request they will tell the card holder (your customer) why it was declined. Unless there is some technical error, the card holder will probably have to take some action to correct this.
  4. If the card issuer cannot see the transaction at all, then it was probably declined further upstream – usually by the gateway. Many gateways have fraud prevention processes and do not always disclose that they were the ones that declined the transaction. We have started seeing this with Stripe – when you query a decline they just say that this was the message received from the card issuer, but escalating the issue reveals that Stripe declined it and didn’t send it to the card issuer at all. They were able to release the blockage (but this took a couple of days of email correspondence and phone calls).

Declining Bank Debits

ACH/PAD/Direct Debits do not have a method for instant approval – so when one is accepted by a gateway it is not really “approved” but more like “pending.” If you receive an error message when uCollect processes it then there is probably a technical problem such as a bad account number (not always detected) or a problem with your gateway account setup. You would normally contact your gateway directly to resolve issues with your account.
It is much more common for Bank Debits to fail after they have been accepted by the gateway. There are more tips on how to deal with that in our “What to do when a payment fails” page.

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