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Billed for Merchandise You Never Received? Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule

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This rule covers merchandise you order by mail, telephone, computer and fax. It requires merchants to have a reasonable basis for claiming they can ship an order within a certain time.

SHIP DATES

  • By law, a merchant should ship your order within the time stated in its ads or over the phone. If the merchant doesn't promise a time, you can expect it to ship your order within 30 days.
  • The shipment "clock" begins when the merchant receives a "properly completed order." That includes your name, address and payment (check, money order or authorization to charge an existing credit account - whether the account is debited at that time or not).
  • If the merchant doesn't promise a shipping time and you are applying for credit to pay for your purchase, the merchant has an additional 20 days (50 days total) to establish the account and ship the merchandise.

DELAYS

If the merchant is unable to ship within the promised time, it must notify you by mail, telephone, or email, give a revised shipping date and give you the chance to cancel for a full refund or accept the new shipping date. The merchant also must give you some way to exercise the cancellation option for free, for example, by supplying a prepaid reply card or staffing a toll-free telephone number.

  • If you ignore the option notice, and the delay is 30 days or less, it's assumed that you accept the delay and are willing to wait for the merchandise.
  • If you do not respond - and the delay is more than 30 days - the order must be canceled by the 30th day of the delay period and a full refund issued promptly.

If the merchant can't meet the revised shipping date, it must notify you again by mail, email or telephone and give you a new shipping date or cancel your order and give you a refund.

  • The order will be canceled and a refund issued promptly unless you indicate by the revised shipping date that you are willing to wait.
  • If you do not respond at all to the second notice, it's assumed that you are not willing to wait, and a full refund must be issued promptly.

REFUNDS

If you authorized a charge to your credit card account, the merchant must credit the account within one billing cycle - not give credit toward another purchase. If you pay by cash, check or money order, the merchant must mail you a refund within seven working days.

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