I'll gladly send you a cheeseburger Tuesday if you pay me today
November 1, 2007 9:03 AM   Subscribe

What is the current (U.S.), if any, law regarding collection of payment for an item and when you must ship it out? In other words, if you I buy something from you online, and you charge my card today, how long do you legally have to ship it out?

I'm not looking to remedy some horrible internet wrong (though I have run across it, it's never been enough money to really care about), I'm just curious about it. Are there common loopholes companies use to get around this limitation? I know about auth vs. pay, so I'm specifically talking about post-funds capture.
posted by mkultra to Shopping (5 answers total)
I'm not aware of any Federal laws mandating default shipping rules. Generally merchants have terms of service on their web sites indicating when they will ship a product.

The merchant's account with a credit card processing bank may have specific rules on how soon after they charge the card they must ship the product, but that probably varies with the bank. I looked through my merchant account contract and couldn't find anything specific, though.

Note that if I take too long to deliver the goods/services, the customer may contest the card with their credit card which may a) get them their money back and b) adversely affects my relationship with merchant bank. So businesses have a stronger incentive not to play funny games with customers who pay by credit card.
posted by justkevin at 9:15 AM on November 1, 2007

When you order something by mail, phone, fax or computer, the Federal Trade Commission requires the company to:

* Ship the merchandise within the time promised, or if no specific delivery time was stated, within 30 days of receiving your order
* Notify you if the shipment cannot be made on time and give you the choice of waiting longer or getting a refund.
* Cancel your order and return your payment if the new shipping date cannot be met, unless you agree to another delay
posted by desjardins at 9:24 AM on November 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

Also, I can't find the link now, but I'm certain that your card cannot be charged until the item is shipped. (I had to go through all this with an online merchant.)
posted by desjardins at 9:26 AM on November 1, 2007

As desjardins mentioned there is statuatory evidence for 30 days in the United States, if you were going to sue under tort law (any other common law country) I'm pretty sure the court would base it on "a reasonable timeframe", which would fit nicely with the 30 day rule, depending on the product.

There are situations where it would be reasonable to take longer, like if I ordered a brand-new heavily customized yacht, and paid for it today, I might not expect it to be delivered for a couple of months. That would be reasonable, but would most likely be stated in the sales contract.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:53 AM on November 1, 2007

...your card cannot be charged until the item is shipped...

I'm pretty sure that's not law. I'm pretty sure that's part of the contract between the shipper and the credit card company, something the credit card company insists on.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:38 AM on November 1, 2007

« Older Cheapest satellite radio receiver?   |   Can I permanently apply an Effect in... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.