What is AVS?

An Address Verification Service (AVS) is a service provided by major card processors to enable merchants to authenticate ownership of a credit or debit card used by a customer. An AVS check ensures the address and zip code of a guest matches the address kept on record with the bank. This reduces unauthorized card usage and reduces the risk of fraudulent transactions.

Why is AVS check important?

The Address Verification Service (AVS) is a tool provided by payment processors and issuing banks to merchants in order to detect suspicious card transactions and to reduce the risk of card fraud. This is especially helpful to reduce risk of fraud for Card Not Present (CNP) transactions.

Using AVS ensures that hackers do not use stolen credit cards for fraudulent transactions on your website. Customer information is stored safely and is only accessed by authorized users. An AVS card check is quick, user-friendly, and completely automated.

Additionally, passing AVS ensures the transactions are not downgraded. This can help you avoid the higher fee charges for downgraded transactions.

How does AVS work?

AVS card check consists of the following steps:

  • The cardholder enters the address information at the time of transaction. This information is captured by Zenoti and it then transmits this information to the payment processor and then, to the cardholder’s card network (such as Visa, MasterCard or Discover).

  • Next, the card network sends information to the card issuing bank. They compare the address provided by the cardholder with the address on-file.

  • Finally, the card issuing bank authorizes the purchase. The payment is verified, and the cardholder can proceed with the checkout process.

    AVS card check takes place instantly, and the cardholder will not notice any abnormal delay on the transaction time.

What is an AVS downgrade?

An AVS downgrade occurs when the AVS details have not been captured. This results in a higher card processing fee because of missing AVS details, hence increasing your cost of transaction.

Which transactions are most susceptible to AVS Downgrade?

'Card Not Present (CNP) transactions (using cards saved without AVS or online purchases) are more susceptible to downgrades than Card Present (CP) transactions (swipe cards or dip cards, using a card reader).

This is because when a Card Present transaction takes place, the card reader (POS device) electronically reads and transmits all the AVS data associated with the transaction such as the address and the zip code.

This isn’t the case with Card Not Present transactions. The transaction is likely to get downgraded if AVS data is not captured.

Where can I see the AVS downgrade rate in Zenoti?

AVS downgrade rate is visible along with other payment rates under the Payments settings page of Zenoti.
Take the following steps:

  1. At the organization level, click the Admin icon and navigate to Payments > Settings.
    In the Payments Settings page, you will see the configured payment processor (Zenoti Payments).

  2. Click the arrow to reveal more options.

  3. Click Payment Rates section to view Non-American Express Downgrade Fee.
    This fee is currently applicable to Visa Card Not Present (CNP) transactions without AVS information.

How can I reduce or avoid AVS downgrade transactions?

The most effective way to avoid downgrades is to ensure AVS information is captured for all transactions. Enabling AVS is the first step to ensure AVS data can be captured for transactions.
Here’s how you can enable the AVS flag in Zenoti:

  1. At the organization level, click the Admin icon and navigate to Payments > Settings.
    In the Payments Settings page, you will see the configured payment processor (Zenoti Payments).

  2. Click the arrow to reveal more options.

  3. Click Payment Options section and select the checkbox Enable Address Verification System (AVS).

After AVS settings are enabled, you can ensure AVS data is captured in each of the following scenarios:

  1. For in-store guests using cards NOT saved on file: If you have enabled the AVS setting, you are prompted to fill AVS information (billing address) when you save the card details on file.
    Note: It is always recommended to save AVS details while saving a card. It will help to enforce the same through the front-desk staff.

  2. For in-store customers using saved card: If an in-store customer who already has a card saved on file, the front-desk staff can manually update AVS details for the saved card from the guest history by taking the following steps:

    1. Click the Appointment icon.

    2. Right click on the guest appointment and select View Guest History.
      The Guest Profile opens.

    3. Scroll down in the General tab to view all the saved cards of the guest.

    4. For each of the saved cards, click Update.
      The Add Account pop-up opens.

    5. Enter the address details of the guest and click Save.
      Alternatively, you can also open the Guest Profile from an active invoice and follow the steps detailed above to save card details.

  3. For recurring payments using card saved on file: Cards saved on file with Zenoti are frequently used in charging customers in a Card Not Present scenario, particularly for memberships. Updating AVS details for existing cards saved on file can help you avoid membership transactions from getting downgraded. Here’s how to update AVS details for cards saved on file:

    1. At the organization level, click the Admin icon and navigate to Payments > Reports.

    2. Search for AVS Details for Saved Cards and open the report.

    3. In the report AVS Details for Saved Cards, column Address Availability denotes if the address details are updated for your guests or not.

    4. From the report filter, select Address Availability as No and click Refresh.

      The report reloads and shows only the guests whose AVS information is not available.

    5. Select the checkboxes of the guests for whom the AVS details are missing. You can also select all the guests.

    6. Click Email Guests button.

      An email preview appears which contains a unique link for the guests to update their address details.

    7. Review the email and click Send Now.
      The email is sent to all the selected guests. Check the Last Email Status button to view errors in sending mails, if any.
      Note: Currently, downgrades are only applicable for Visa cards. You can filter out all Visa cards by selecting the Card Brand filter. You can also filter saved cards by the last transaction date to update AVS details for cards used for the most recent transactions.

I have AVS setting enabled already. Am I required to do anything further to reduce additional charge?

Enabling AVS setting alone will not ensure that the transactions are not downgraded. After you enable AVS settings, you are prompted to fill AVS information for every subsequent Card Not Present (CNP) transaction.

For online purchases or e-commerce transactions, it is mandatory for guests to enter AVS details before proceeding to pay or save the card. Although this is not mandatory for in-store Card Not Present (CNP) transactions, we encourage you to enter AVS details, especially if you save card details on file for future use. It will help to enforce the same through the front-desk staff.

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