Comment period ending soon on FTC’s proposed amendments to the Mail Order Rule – clarification of applicability to Internet sales.

The Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule was established to provide telephone or mail-order customers comfort as to when their merchandise would be shipped. If merchandise cannot be shipped within the time promised, the seller must either secure the customer’s consent to delay shipping or refund the customer’s payment. The FTC had concerns as to the applicability of the Rule to Internet sales, and proposes amending the rule to clarify this point. The Rule changes proposed by the FTC would also (1) allow refund notices and refunds to be provided by any reliable means, (2) clarify seller responsibilities applicable to non-standard payment methods such as gift and debit cards, and (3) establish a time limit for refunds. The FTC is taking public comments through December 14, 2011.