The 30 Day Rule and What it Means for Your eCommerce Business

Updated: Mar 21

Have you heard of the Federal Trade Commission’s Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandising Rule?

Also called the “30 Day Rule”. Whenever you make a sale online, unless otherwise stated in your turn-around time, you have 30 days to ship that product.

If you fail to ship it in that 30 days (or the agreed upon time), you have to request consent from the customer to extend that time. If they do not grant consent, you must refund them within 7 days of them cancelling the order.

Failing to provide the product within the agreed upon time is 100% grounds for the customer to demand a refund, and you must provide it. Otherwise, “merchants who violate the Rule can be sued by the FTC for injunctive relief, monetary civil penalties of up to $43,792 per violation”.

So if you miss your turn around time and your customers request a refund, you had better grant it to them or there could be serious repercussions for your wallet and your reputation.

How Can I Protect My Business?

For one, you can provide your products and services in a timely fashion and never have to worry about the 30 Day Rule.

But for some businesses, that 30 Day Rule might be cutting it awful close to their average turn-around-time. For others, your products and services might routinely take longer than 30 days.

So here are some things you can do to protect yourself:

- Provide clearly specified timelines to set expectations for the customer

- Promptly ship and deliver within your stated timeline

- If you experience a delay, quickly reach out and inform customers of the delay

- If you have a longer than 30 day turn-around-time, consider getting written consent from the customer prior to accepting their payment

When in doubt, treat customers how you would want to be treated and strive to not keep them waiting too long.

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