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New F.T.C. Trade Rules Aimed At Speeding Up Goods Shipments

     
3:44 pm on Sep 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The FTC is aiming to improve late shipping communications and improve deliveries for goods that cannot be immediately shipped. The new documentation and rules encompass most goods ordered from the seller by mail, telephone, fax, or on the Internet. I guess fax because somebody still uses it.
The Rule requires that when you advertise 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 customerís order, you learn that you cannot ship within the time you stated or within 30 days, you must seek the customerís consent to the delayed shipment. If you cannot obtain the customerís consent to the delay -- either because it is not a situation in which you are permitted to treat the customerís 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.Business Guide to the FTC's Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule [business.ftc.gov]
10:35 pm on Sept 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I wonder if this was influenced by the issues with Butterfly Labs and their bitcoin mining rigs.
11:09 am on Sept 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If you make no shipment statement, you must have a reasonable basis for believing that you can ship within 30 days.

Speeding up? It doesn't affect me directly as I am in a different country but as a punter, if I am not explicitly advised to the contrary, I expect the seller to be dispatching from stock by the next business day.
3:08 pm on Sept 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I think the problem occurs when there's lack of communication between the seller and the buyer. By ensuring there's communications going on the seller is encouraged to commit to delivery, which the buyer ought to hear about.

Most efficient ecommerce businesses are probably not going to be affected by this. It's only those that don't have a very good system. Perhaps it'll encourage them to step up.
4:47 pm on Sept 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If I am not explicitly advised to the contrary, I expect the seller to be dispatching from stock by the next business day.


There are many niches where the product is built on demand. Printed items, for example, like business cards. Or built-to-suit, like window blinds, or custom leather goods, etc.
6:36 pm on Sept 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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because it is not a situation in which you are permitted to treat the customer's silence as consent


What kind of a situation would that be?
9:55 am on Sept 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

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There are many niches where the product is built on demand. Printed items, for example, like business cards. Or built-to-suit, like window blinds, or custom leather goods, etc.

With those items it is implicit that they aren't being shipped from stock.
9:34 pm on Sept 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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With those items it is implicit that they aren't being shipped from stock.


You would think so, but customers ping me all the time asking why their custom widget thing didn't ship out same day :)

FYI, I think I was right, and this is about Butterfly Labs. The FTC just shut them down [blogs.wsj.com]. The timing is too coincidental.

BFL was upfront that they were selling pre-orders, and not from stock. However, they missed their stated delivery dates by more than a year.

They did eventually deliver, but because the value of the product was tied to bitcoin hashing difficulty (which rises over time), the product was worth MUCH less once delivered.