A tiny sign of the decline in trust and the social contract?

Something happened that’s never happened to me, or more accurately us, before: a client filed a credit card chargeback after we’d fulfilled our obligations to the client. The most interesting part of the chargeback experience isn’t that someone filed a chargeback—after two decades, it was bound to occur sooner or later—but what a manager at the credit card processing company said is surprising: according to her, in the last six months, she’s seen a huge jump in number of merchants receiving their first chargebacks, ever. Many are small businesses, like us, and have never had a chargeback. The manager said she’s been much busier dealing with people like us, who are novices to this problem. She’s with one of the largest credit card processors (known as “merchant processors” in the credit card world) and thus positioned to know what’s happening in the company and, likely, industry as a whole. She volunteered that information during the course of the conversation, too, in the tone of someone who’s had this conversation before.

One hears that the number of people behaving badly on airplanes is rising. One sees the videos of people doing organized smash-and-grabs in California, one sees journalist Andy Ngo beaten by a mob in Portland, and one sees claims about the rise in crime more generally (albeit from low rates, and far below the rates of the ’70s or ’80s), and one has to wonder whether these are fleeting epiphenomenon, or something else. Does the possible rise in chargebacks track the distrust in institutions more generally? I’ve not seen any systematic data on the subject. A few brief searches don’t show any obvious public data following this metric, though if anyone has or knows of such data, please leave a link in the comments.

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