To help you plan and operate your business, the Federal Trade Commission
("FTC") staff in cooperation with the Direct Marketing Association ("DMA")
has prepared this information about the FTC's Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise
Trade Regulation Rule (the "Rule"). The Rule's requirements are explained
in plain English. This discussion is followed by a question
and answer section. The Rule itself is reprinted at the end of this page.
What is Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise?
Mail or telephone order merchandise means the goods the customer orders
from the seller by mail or telephone. Telephone order merchandise can
be ordered directly or indirectly by telephone, including fax
machines and computers.
It does not matter how the merchandise is advertised, how the customer
pays, or who initiates the contact.
What is the Mail or Telephone Order Rule?
The Rule requires
that when you advertise mail or telephone order merchandise, you must have
a reasonable basis for stating or implying that you can ship within a certain
time. If you make no shipment statement, you must have a reasonable basis
for believing that you can ship within 30 days. That is why direct marketers
sometimes call this the "30-day Rule."
If, after taking the customer's order, you learn that you cannot ship
within the time you stated or within 30 days, you must seek the customer's
consent to the delayed shipment. If you cannot obtain the customer's consent
to the delay—either because it is not a situation in which you are permitted
to treat the customer's silence as consent and the customer has not expressly
consented to the delay, or because the customer has expressly refused to
consent—you must, without being asked, promptly refund all the money the
customer paid you for the unshipped merchandise.
Table of Contents
How to Comply
Questions and Answers