New rules push Internet retailers to make quick deliveries

Internet retailers are facing new rules from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requiring them to ship customers' orders on time and promptly offer refunds for some items that are late.

The FTC said Tuesday that online sellers will be required to ship merchandise within 30 days of purchase, or else give customers the option for a refund.

These rules ensure that customers receive their orders in a timely manner, the FTC said.

"The rule prohibits sellers from soliciting mail, Internet, or telephone order sales unless they have a reasonable basis to expect that they can ship the ordered merchandise within the time stated on the solicitation or, if no time is stated, within 30 days," the FTC wrote in the Federal Register

The rules are being expanded to include Internet retailers and will go into effect on Dec. 8, just as the holiday shopping season heats up.

The FTC wrote the original rule for companies that sell merchandise through catalogues in 1975, and expanded it to include telephone sales in 1993.