Skip to main content
Image
Buying online? You don't have to accept shipping delays.

We’ve all been there. During the holidays you order something online and anxiously await its arrival. But then your package doesn’t come when the seller said it would. And worse, you hear nothing. Your happy anticipation is turning to anger and frustration. So now what?

If you didn’t get your stuff:

  • First, contact the seller. Most businesses will work with you to resolve the problem and keep you as a customer.
  • If that doesn’t work, you still didn’t get your order and the charge shows up on your credit card statement, dispute the charge.
  • If you paid by debit card, contact your debit card company (often your bank or credit union). Ask if they can help you. This sample letter for disputing debit card charges can help.

Sometimes, you can head problems off by doing some research before buying from an unfamiliar online store.

  • Check out the company or product. Search online for the name plus words like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” See what other people say about it. And read the seller's description of the product carefully. If they offer name-brand goods at steeply discounted prices, they might be fakes.
  • Pay by credit card. You’ll get protections under federal law, so you don’t have to pay for things you ordered but didn’t get.

A word on timing, as the holidays approach: online sellers have to ship when they (or their ads) say they will. (The law says so.) If they don’t ship then, they have to tell you (and give you a chance to cancel and get a full refund). If they don’t give a shipping date, they have 30 days to ship from the date of your order.

If you suspect a scam, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.

The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

Kit1
January 11, 2023

This article is 100% correct If you do everything that it states. I had this occur with us, and got the run around. I reported it as fraud to the bank, with a 1 page letter & it was taken off the card. Plus, I told them I was going to report them to the State Attorney General Office as a scam, and to The FTC & some other consumer agencies & social media ie. Facebook.
I got refunded. So, it does work.
I also learned through this, that FTC don't care for liars, scammers, or a company that rips off consumers. They are there to help consumers. But 1 thing, don't lie. Be 100% honest & have proof. You will get results.
Good Luck

Richard D Townsend
January 11, 2023

You failed to mention the most popular complex scam, where a seller will except your money, make excuses for a delayed delivery, or simply just provide you with the proof of delivery. The proof of delivery would be a tiny insignificant item that arrives by any means, they choose, providing proof that a delivery was made to you. However, you might have purchased a $100 item and received a $.25 ring or kitchen mitt. These are two examples of items I have received as part of the scam. The problem is that the credit card companies are excepting the seller’s proof of delivery and in order to appeal and win, incredible time, money, and documentation is required.

Sharon Simpson
January 24, 2023

We pay right away for the product and when it does not come, we request a refund that comes sometimes in 10 days or longer...there should be a law against holding our money when we didn't even receive the item. They should take the money when we receive the item. The delivery truck drivers just drop the item at anyone's door and claim it's been delivered, instead of checking with the right address. There should be a signature for packages, or these delivery truck drivers should follow directions on package instead of ignoring them! The consumer is already paying too much for too many cheap products that are made in other countries that we are being forced to support...

Karen
January 11, 2023

Thank you very much for this article. Seems like even "reputable," big name, formerly high-class stores have problems with delivery. Third party sellers like to print a label and indicate to the shipper that it has been shipped. The shipper never receives it from the 3rd party seller and it never is shipped from that seller or the big name store. Seems to be a common practice, beware shopping online anywhere.

Mary Winstead
January 11, 2023

This article has great advise but it doesn’t explain what to do if you still don’t receive your order.

Tammy McElhinney
January 11, 2023

I’ll always pay online with my credit card. My bank won’t help if there’s an ordering issue. I had an issue one time, my bank said I had to deal with seller, and they would help when I couldn’t cancel or get my money back. Maybe it all depends bank by bank.

Morton Winner
January 11, 2023

Thank you for a good and clear report with several good ideas to be considered,if there is a possibility of having been scammed.

Gary Stein
January 11, 2023

Thank You for mentioning the credit card versus debit card . In my experience it’s a hassle to dispute debit card purchases and seamless to stop payment on credit card purchases.

Rob Langer
January 11, 2023

EXCELLENT article!
Thank You for this useful information.

Connie2cats
January 24, 2023

I had an order from Target that never came! But after I contacted Target, they gave me a refund and replaced my order! And Target also has given me refunds for damaged or wrong items!

Donna White
January 11, 2023

What if the order was shipped on time ( through Amazon ) but the local post office was responsible for the final delivery part and the item was never received by the recipient? One search shows the item was out for delivery but the next notice said it has not been scanned yet and to this date the tracking number shows no further action.