Dear Consumer Ed:

I ordered a sofa online.  I was told the order would ship within 10 days.  A week later I was notified that the item was on back order for 30 days.  When that 30 days elapsed, I called to follow-up and was told it would be another 4-6 weeks before the sofa shipped.  At that point, I told them I wanted to cancel the order and get my money back. They told me that I could only get a store credit.  Can they refuse to refund my money?

Consumer Ed says:

No, the company must honor your request for a refund.  When you order something by mail, phone, fax or computer, federal law requires the company to:

  • Ship the merchandise within the timeframe promised, or within 30 days if no delivery time was specified. 
  • Notify you if the shipment cannot be made on time and give you the option to wait longer or get a refund.
  • Cancel your order and refund your money if the new shipping date cannot be met, unless you agree to another delay.  The company CANNOT substitute a store credit.

If you cancel the order, your credit card account must be credited within one billing cycle. If the company is refusing to credit your account, you should contact your credit card company, tell them you are disputing this charge and ask for a chargeback.  In addition, you should report the incident to the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Unit at 404-651-8600 or 1-800-869-1123 (toll-free in Georgia, outside of the metro Atlanta calling area).

*Source:  Consumer Action Handbook

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