This week, the FTC announced several proposed amendments to the Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule. The Rule, which was originally issued in 1975, requires that marketers making sales via telephone or catalog must have a reasonable basis to expect that they can ship ordered merchandise in a timely manner (or 30 days if no shipping window is advertised). Under the Rule, marketers are also required to, in the event of a shipping delay, secure the customer’s consent to delay shipment or provide a refund for unshipped merchandise. The FTC proposes amendments that:

  • make it clear that the Rule covers all orders placed over the Internet;
  • allow sellers to provide refunds and refund notices to buyers by any means at least as fast and reliable as first-class mail;
  • outline sellers’ obligations when buyers use payment methods not spelled out in the Rule, such as debit cards or prepaid gift cards; and
  • require that refunds be made within seven working days for purchases made with third-party credit, such as Visa or MasterCard. When the seller is the creditor, the refund deadline will remain one billing cycle.

The FTC will accept public comments on the proposed amendments until December 14, 2011.

Go here to view the FTC’s announcement of the proposed amendments to the Rule.