By Lance Rose, Esq.
What are the legal rules when you're buying online?
Although the Web offers new ways to shop, you can still benefit from legal protections developed for shopping by telephone, mail, and other means. Our two most important consumer protection laws for online shopping come from the U.S. government: The "Mail/Telephone Order Rule" and the "Fair Credit Billing Act."
Mail/Telephone Order Rule.
Sellers must deliver your goods within certain time periods, or they could face penalties from the Federal Trade Commission. The rule applies when you order online, by mail, or by telephone.
If the seller advertises or tells you a delivery date before you purchase, it must deliver by that date.
If the seller cannot deliver by the required date, it must give you notice before that date, so you can choose either to:
Fair Credit Billing Act.
Using your credit card on the Web is like using it at a store. The Act gives you certain rights if there is an error or dispute relating to your bill.
New Payment Methods: A Word of Caution.
While consumer protections for traditional credit cards are well established, the protection for those who use new forms of "digital payment," "digital cash," and the like are unclear. Some resemble credit cards, others resemble ATM cards, others are brand-new forms of payment. Look up the resources below for the latest information on new regulations, if any, that may be developed to protect consumers using these payment methods.
Resources for Further Info
The text of this article is reprinted by OUPD from Internet Shopper magazine, reprinted by permission, January 10, 1998.
Lance Rose, Esq., has been practicing and writing about technology and information law since 1981.
Reprinted from Internet Shopper magazine Vol. 1 No. 1 (c)1997 Mecklermedia Corporation. All rights reserved.
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