What To Do If Your Online Order Never Arrives — And How To Get Your Money Back

by Alvaro Puig Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

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Shopping online is oh-so-convenient. Haven’t we all bought stuff online when we could easily run to the store (figuratively, of course) and be back home in less than 30 minutes? Because reputable online businesses want happy, returning customers, they make returning something almost as simple as buying it. But what if a seller won’t give you a refund even though you qualify for it? Or what if you ordered something and never got it?

A seller’s return policy should tell you if you can return the item for a refund and how to do that. For most payment types, the seller must give you a refund within 7 business days of accepting the return. If you qualify for a return but the seller won’t give you your money back, you have some options:

If you bought something online and never got it, notify the seller as soon as possible. If the seller hasn’t shipped the item within the timeframe they promised when you bought it, you can cancel the order.

If you never got your order and the charge appears on your credit card statement, you can dispute it as a billing error. File a dispute online or by phone with your credit card company. To protect any rights you may have, also send a letter to the address listed for billing disputes or errors. Use our sample letter. You must dispute the error within 60 days of the date your first statement with the error on it was sent to you.

If you paid by debit card, the consumer protections are different than they are for credit cards. You may not be able to get a refund for non-delivery. Contact your debit card company (often your bank) and ask if they have any voluntary protections. Read more about disputing charges.

A federal law applies to most things you order by phone, mail, or online. It establishes guidelines for when online sellers must ship your item, what they should do about delays, and when they must give you a refund.

In a Nutshell: The Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule

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