One FTC Rule Some Lightsaber Companies May Commonly Break

Two of my most frustrating lightsaber buying experiences, one in 2017 and one in 2019, stem from the same problem: the custom saber company shipped my order weeks or months later than they said they would on their website. In the case of both orders, from two different large custom saber companies, the company did not contact me regarding the delay or provide an option for a full refund. Each time, I chalked up the experience to inattentive or bad customer service. At the time, I wasn’t aware of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’S) “30 Day Rule”, a rule intended to protect American consumers.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this article is intended for informational purposes only as does not constitute legal advice.

The FTC’s 30 Day Rule, a colloquial term for the Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule, is a rule requiring businesses to ship an online purchase within 30 days of payment UNLESS otherwise stated. If a company provides a longer shipping window on their website, for example 7-8 weeks or 3-4 months, then the company should reasonably expect to ship the order within 7-8 weeks or 3-4 months, respectively.

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According to the FTC, a company is responsible for taking the following actions if the company is unable to ship within 30 days or within the window specified by the company:
1. The company must “seek the customer’s consent to the delayed shipment.”
2. If the company “cannot obtain the customer’s consent to the delay…the company must, without being asked, promptly refund all the money the customer paid you for the unshipped merchandise.”
SOURCE: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/business-guide-ftcs-mail-internet-or-telephone-order

In other words, if your order from a custom saber company is going to ship later than stated, then the company must contact you and ask for your consent to a delayed shipment. If you do not respond or do not provide you consent, then the company must “refund all of the money the customer paid”.

Filling an FTC Complaint

Whenever you are having a problem during a transaction, first try to work out the problem directly with the seller. If that doesn’t work, you may consider reading more about consumer protection from the FTC and filing a complaint with the FTC at www.ftc.gov/complaint.

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Founded in 1914, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) promotes consumer protection. One of the main strategic goals of the FTC is to “Protect consumers from unfair and deceptive practices in the marketplace”.

FURTHER READING

Business Guide to the FTC’s Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule
https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/business-guide-ftcs-mail-internet-or-telephone-order

Selling on the Internet: Prompt Delivery Rules
https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/selling-internet-prompt-delivery-rules

Shipping Goods and the 30-Day Rule
https://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/business-operations/laws-governing-shipping-advertising.html

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