Find the right lawyer now

Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule

Find a Local Products & Services Lawyer near You

What Is the Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule?

The Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule (the Rule) lays out regulations including promises about shipments, refunds, and notifications about unexpected delays. The Rule is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and applies to phone, fax, or Internet orders.   

How Do I Comply with the Rule?

To comply with the Rule, there are certain things you must follow:

  • If you state that your product can be shipped in a certain time period, you must have a reasonable basis for doing so. 
  • If you do not clearly state the shipment period, there must be a reasonable basis for believing that you can ship the product within 30 days. 
  • If it is not possible for you to ship within these time periods, you must notify the consumer of the delay. You must also give the consumer a revised shipment date and also inform him of his right to cancel (and to get a refund). 
  • If you know how long the delay will be (up to 30 days), you can treat the consumer's silence as agreeing to the delay. 
  • However, if the delay is longer or indefinite, you must get the consumer's consent to the delay. Otherwise, you must refund his money. 
  • You also have the right to cancel orders that cannot be filled but you have to notify the customer and give him a refund.

What If I Have an Unexpected Demand?

If you are running late on your shipments and/or are overwhelmed with the number of orders you are receiving, you are given some leeway in the Rule:

  • If you reasonably believe that you can ship the product by a new date, you can change your shipment promises up until the customer places the order. You should also notify the customer.
  • If you cannot ship in the originally promised time, you must provide a delay option notice (by email, fax, or phone). 

Do I Need a Lawyer Experienced with the Rule?

If you run a business, a lawyer would be able to tell you your rights and obligations under the Rule and how to comply with the Rule. As a consumer, a consumer protection attorney would be able to discuss your rights under the Rule and what, if anything, a company can change about its shipment promises.

Photo of page author Adam Vukovic

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 12-16-2014 02:45 PM PST

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.