Educational Consumer Tips

Mail Order

Author: Better Business Bureau

Under a Federal Trade Commission Rule, a company must ship merchandise ordered by mail within 30 days from the time it RECEIVES your order, unless, in making the offer, the company clearly and conspicuously stated some other time for shipment. NOTE: The rule applies from the date your PROPERLY COMPLETED order is RECEIVED by the company to the date it is shipped.

If the company cannot ship within 30-day period or within the time it advertised, it must notify you of that fact and permit you to cancel or agree to the delay. If you cancel, it must provide you with a full refund of any money you have paid within 7 WORKING DAYS from receipt of your notice of cancellation, or a copy of a credit memorandum showing your account cleared of any related charges within ONE BILLING CYCLE if you charged your purchase. In notifying you, the company must provide a COST FREE means (such as a postage-paid card) for you to reply if you wish to cancel.

IF YOU DO NOT RESPOND to the notice, the company has the right to assume that YOU AGREE TO A DELAY OF UP TO 30 DAYS. The company may not, however, delay shipment beyond an additional 30 days without your express consent.

If the company cannot ship within that 30 additional days, or the agreed upon time, it must again notify you and always get your positive agreement to any further delay, or cancel and refund any payment you sent with your order, or credit your account.

The rule DOES NOT APPLY to orders placed over the telephone and charged to a credit card account, C.O.D. (collect on delivery) orders or orders with which you sent no advance payment and for which you are not billed nor your account charged until shipment is made. Also not covered are mail order services such as photo finishing; seed and growing plants; magazine orders (except initial delivery); and "negative option plans" such as those used by some book, or record and tape clubs.