So you have bought something cross-border from the US and it hasn't turned up or is delayed past the shipping timeframe that they told you when you bought the goods? What should you do and what are your consumer rights?
When you purchase something from a retailer abroad a contract is created between you the buyer and the seller. That contract is covered by the consumer protection law of the country where the seller is based. So if you buy something from the USA it is USA law.
In the US it is the Federal Trade Commission or FTC that is the body which oversees these things.
My Shopping from the US is late!
When you by something from an online retailer in the US, they are obliged to tell you of the estimated shipping time. That shipping time starts as soon as they have received a completed order.
If the shipping is going to be delayed the retailer should inform you of this. They should also give you a new shipping date and the opportunity of a refund. If yo don't respond and the delay is going to be less than 30 days it is automatically assumed that you accept the delay. If the delay is more than 30 days and you don't respond it is automatically assumed that you don't accept the delay and you should be issued a full refund.
So, the first thing to do is check any correspondence from the retailer and check the initial shipping dates and if you have received any notification of a delay. If not then get in touch with the shipping if you have a tracking number to see if they have the package ready for delivery.
You should also contact the retailer and ask them what is happening. They should tell you the estimated time of arrival or offer you a refund if your shopping is late.
If you have paid by credit card, you should by credit within one billing cycle after you have cancelled your order.
Pay by credit card.
Some countries, such as the UK offer some protection in law for purchases that go wrong made by credit card. It is advisable when purchasing anything online, especially internationally to use a credit card.
This is also good advice if there is a billing error which the credit card companies are obliged to sort out for you.
File a Consumer Complaint.
If you are still not satisfied, your item has still not arrived and the retailer won't give you a shipping date or ignores your request for a refund, then you can file a consumer complaint.
In the US there are several bodies that handle consumer complaints:
- The state's consumer protection agency. Search by state.
- The Better Business Bureau BBB.
- The FTC. Complaint Assistant.
- The state's Attorney General. Here
Each body has it's own procedure, which you can follow by using one of the links above.
Follow these shopping tips when buying from the USA to help you with your international shopping.
- Read the shop's shipping and returns policies.
- Make a note of the estimated shipping dates, if you are not given one, contact the retailer.
- Keep a copy of all correspondence, receipts, invoices and orders.
- Quote order numbers and the email address you used when buying in all contact with the shop.
- Pay with a Visa or Mastercard credit card.