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If someone you care about is in jail or prison, you might be thinking about getting them a magazine subscription. The FTC wants you to know that some magazine subscription companies might make promises they don’t keep — and you could wind up paying money for magazines that arrive late or never arrive.

The FTC and the Florida Office of the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Inmate Magazine Service, Inc. for being dishonest about its subscription services in its advertising to inmates and their loved ones. According to the FTC’s complaint, Inmate Magazine Services broke the law when it promised people they’d get their magazines within 120 days, but failed to deliver on that promise. That is, if they delivered the magazines at all. The FTC also says Inmate Magazine Services did not make it clear to dissatisfied customers that they could either agree to shipping delays or cancel their orders and get a prompt refund. When many people asked for refunds when they didn’t get their magazines, the FTC says Inmate Magazine Service often refused and pointed to its “no refunds” policy.

When you buy something that’s going to be shipped, sellers must (1) tell you if they can’t ship your items within the amount of time they said, or within 30 days, and (2) get your consent to ship it anyway. If they can’t get your OK, or you say no, they must give you a full refund. That’s the rule for almost everything you order online, by phone, mail, or fax.

For more ideas about hassle-free shopping, visit Shopping Online. And if you paid for something that never shipped, and the company didn’t tell you about the delay or didn’t offer you a refund, tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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