Tips on What to Do About Late Internet Shipping

Get the Lowdown on Late Internet Shipments

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Promises from online stores to deliver purchases on time is not uncommon. Having the purchases arrive late is unfortunately all too common. There are ways to get compensated for late deliveries, but each situation is different. There are also laws that protect online shoppers from internet retailers that practice deceptive advertising that promise fast shipping that they do not fulfill.

What Are the Laws Regarding Late Shipping of Online Orders?

The following laws apply to all retailers:

  • The company is responsible for shipping an order within the time that advertised.
  • If a company does not promise an earlier delivery time, it must ship the order within 30 days after receiving it.
  • If the company is unexpectedly unable to ship as promised, it is required to provide adequate notice to the customers. This includes weather-related problems.
  • Notices with revised shipping dates must be quickly sent out to customers.
  • Customers must be allowed to agree to the delay or cancel the order and receive a prompt refund.

Getting a Refund

If a retailer is unable to deliver a package when promised, it is their responsibility to give the customer a full refund. If the package was delivered, but it arrived late, and if the customer paid extra for an early delivery, the customer can request a partial refund. Getting refunds and being partially reimbursed for late shipping can be challenging. When shipments go out late, some retailers do not always contact customers to find out if they still want their purchase.

It can take a significant amount of work to get stores to follow the laws.

Contact Customer Service

Customers should reach out to the store's customer service department to discuss the problem of late shipping. It helps to have the information about the purchase on hand. This includes the date of the purchase, amount, and the shipping charge, the name of the carrier, the shipping invoice number, and the date that the package was received.

Most good customer representatives try to help solve customers' problems.

Be Polite

It is irritating when an important purchase fails to arrive within the time that was promised. If it happens, it is important to remain calm and polite when speaking with a customer representative, even when it is clear that they are bad at their jobs. When customers get angry, demanding and begin to lose control, representatives are permitted to disengage (hang up) with the "abusive" customer. When that happens, the customer is back to square one, if they are lucky.


If the conversation between the customer and the representative has advanced to the point of discussing reimbursement of shipping costs, then the customer has a good chance of receiving at least some money back. It helps if they are fair with their demands. While asking for a full refund on the entire shipping cost is justified and legal, it may not always be appropriate. It depends on the circumstances and how long it took for the package to arrive.

For example, if the purchase was a holiday gift that arrived a few days late, but in time for the customer to give it to the recipient at the Christmas party, then getting a partial refund is appropriate.

However, if the purchase arrived so late that the customer had to buy another gift to give to the person in time for Christmas party, then asking for a full refund would be appropriate.

It helps to stay focused on how much money is involved. Usually, the difference between full and partial shipping fees is fairly small. Too many long phone calls and email follow-ups can turn into a waste of time for the sake of a few dollars.

The FTC Is on the Side of the Customers

A lot of attention has been given to the problem of retailers not honoring the shipping dates that are advertised. The FTC is very involved in trying to educate online retailers to comply with the laws.

FTC attorney Heather Hippsley encourages shoppers who have had an unsatisfactory online shopping experience to contact the retailer first to try to resolve the problem.

If that doesn't work, she recommends taking future business elsewhere. However, when the problem involves a legal violation, she encourages consumers to contact the Federal Trade Commission on its toll-free helpline at 1-877-FTC-HELP or use the online complaint form on theĀ FTC website.