Shopping in a Winter Wonderland

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These days more and more holiday shoppers will be decking the halls by ducking the malls.  According to some reports, Cyber Monday has eclipsed Black Friday as the day when the going gets tough – and the tough go online shopping.

That’s great news for Internet retailers, but only if they’re up to speed on the FTC’s Mail Order Rule, which also applies to online sales. So now’s the time for businesses to make a list and check it twice to ensure Mail Order Rule compliance.

If you say you’ll deliver within a specific time, that promise must be supported by a reasonable basis – and not just wishful holiday thinking. If your ad or website doesn’t say anything about how long it will take for shoppers to get their stuff, the Rule requires you to have a reasonable basis for believing you can ship within 30 days. And statements like "Delivery by December 21st" or "two-day shipping" aren’t just holiday hype. They’re advertising claims you have to live up to.

Here's hoping you sell that must-have toy or hot gadget of the season, but the Mail Order Rule mandates specific procedures if it looks like demand will exceed supply. Especially during the holiday season, delivery delays can lead to frustration and disappointment. Savvy retailers know that being candid about fulfillment glitches can win back customer loyalty – and can minimize the chance you’ll hear from law enforcement.

To find out more, read A Business Guide to the Federal Trade Commission's Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule.

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