I paid for merchandise that I never received

March 27, 2018

Dear Consumer Ed:

I purchased custom shirts that were supposed to be ready within two weeks.  It’s now six months later and still no shirts. Is it a crime to take money and not produce the goods that you sold? What can I do?      

Consumer Ed says:

It is not a crime to accept payment for something before it is produced. The first thing you should do is to communicate with the merchant directly to find out what happened and try to get the company to ship the order or refund your money.

If you placed your order over the telephone or the internet, the Federal Trade Commission’s Merchandise Rule requires the seller to ship the product within the represented time frame (two weeks in your case) or to obtain your consent for a longer period of time to ship the product.  If you do not consent to the proposed delayed shipping date, you are entitled to a refund.  

If the merchant has not provided the merchandise and refuses to issue a refund, you may want to contact your credit card issuer to see if you can still request a chargeback. The time limit for requesting a chargeback varies depending on the credit card network and the reason for the chargeback.

If you can't resolve the dispute with the business, you may take your problem to magistrate court. Magistrate court, also called small claims court, is an informal court that handles money claims of less than $15,000.  This court may offer you a quick and inexpensive solution. Go to consumer.ga.gov/consumer-topics/magistrate-court for more information. As always, when faced with legal issues, you may also want to consider consulting with an attorney regarding any other legal remedies you might have.

You may also wish to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov or with the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Division by visiting consumer.ga.gov or by calling 404-651-8600.

Submit your own question to Consumer Ed.  Remember…we do not give legal advice. Always consult a lawyer about legal issues.