Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.
|December 18, 2001
||Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357
ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFERS ADVICE FOR
ONLINE HOLIDAY SHOPPERS
In the midst of the holiday shopping season, Attorney General J. Joseph
Curran, Jr., offered advice for consumers shopping for gifts on the Internet.
"Shopping online can be very convenient–just use a little caution," said
Attorney General Curran. "Know who you're dealing with. Check the total
price before paying, find out what the return policy is, and pay by credit
Complaints from consumers about Internet transactions include difficulties
getting in touch with the company when merchandise doesn’t arrive or is
defective, unexpected high shipping charges, and finding out too late
that no refunds are given.
Curran offers these tips to consumers:
- Order from companies you know to be legitimate. Be wary of unfamiliar
Web sites that appear in unsolicited e-mails sent to you.
- Don’t buy from online businesses that don’t provide an address or
telephone number you can use if you have a problem.
- Check how much the shipping charge will add to the advertised price
of an item. Don't assume the seller will choose the least expensive
- Check the promised delivery date. Order as early as you can to ensure
delivery in time. By federal law, companies must ship items by the date
they promise, or if no delivery time is stated, within 30 days after
the order date. If the seller can't ship the item within that time,
the seller must notify the buyer, give the buyer a chance to cancel
the order and send a full refund if the buyer chooses to cancel.
- Find out what the return policy is. Some online businesses charge
high shipping and handling fees or impose restocking fees on returns.
- Look for information about warranties on electronics or appliances.
Read the warranty before you buy to help you understand what protection
you'll get should something go wrong. If a copy of the warranty is available
online, print it out when you make your purchase and keep it with your
- Pay with a credit card. If a product doesn't arrive or you believe
it was misrepresented, you can dispute the charge through your credit
- Keep a record of your purchase by printing a copy of the Web page
advertising the item, the completed order form, and any confirmation
you receive by e-mail.
the business will share or sell your personal information with other
businesses, and whether you can "opt out" of such sharing. Don't give
any more information about yourself than is necessary to process the
- If you pay by credit card, review your statement later to be sure
you were charged what you agreed to pay.
Consumers who have a problem with an Internet purchase can call the
Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division hotline for assistance,