Educational Consumer Tips

Placing an Order by Mail

Author: Better Business Bureau

The following comments provide general information for consumers, and do not necessarily reflect the practices or record of any particular company.

When placing an order by mail, obtain the name of the order clerk, if possible, the date you place the order, the shipping/ delivery date, inquire about the company's cancellation policy, if any, and verify your order.

Under the FTC's mail order rule, a company must ship your order within 30 days from the time it receives the completed order, unless the company clearly states another time for shipment. If the company cannot ship your order within the time advertised, they should inform you of the delay. You may cancel your order. If you cancel, your money should be refunded within 7 days of your notice of cancellation. If you do not respond to the company's notification of delay, the company may assume you agree to the delay. It then has another 30 days to send the merchandise. The company may not delay shipment beyond an additional 30 days without your expressed consent.

The mail order rule does not apply to orders placed over the telephone and charged to your credit card, COD orders, or orders from which you send no advance payment. The rule also does not cover mail order services such as photofinishing, seeds and plants, magazine orders and "negative option plans" such as those used by some book, record and tape clubs.

These are some helpful tips from your Better Business Bureau.