New Hampshire Legal Aid

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Credit Card Orders

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The FTC's Mail or Telephone Merchandise Rule covers goods you order by mail, telephone, computer and fax machine. By law, a company must ship your order within the time stated in its ads, or, if no time is promised, within 30 days after receiving and accepting your order. If the company cannot ship within the promised time, you must be given an "option notice." This gives you the choice of agreeing to the delay or canceling your order and receiving a prompt refund. If, however, the company doesn't promise a shipping time and you are applying for credit to pay for your purchase, the company has 50 days after receiving your order to ship if they decide to extend the credit.

The Federal Fair Credit Billing Act also protects you when you use your credit card to pay for purchases, whether by phone, mail or in the store. If you find a billing error on your monthly credit or charge card statement, you may dispute the charge and withhold payment of the disputed amount during the dispute period. Such an error might be a charge for the wrong amount, or for something you did not accept or which was not delivered. To dispute a billing error, you should: first, make a good faith effort to resolve the dispute with the seller, then write to the credit card company at the special address for "billing inquiries" indicated on its monthly statement. Include your name, address, and credit card number and describe the billing error. Don't wait to send this letter. It must reach the credit card company within 60 days after the first bill containing the error was mailed to you. Keep copies of any letters you send. In your negotiations with the seller, you should be aware that it is a crime under New Hampshire law for a person to listen in on or record the contents of any telecommunication or oral communication through use of any electronic, mechanical or other device without the permission of both parties to the call. Just as creditors are not allowed to record telephone calls to you without your permission, you may not record phone calls to creditors without their permission. The credit card company must acknowledge your complaint in writing within 30 days after receiving it, unless the problem has been resolved. The dispute must be resolved within two billing cycles (but not more than 90 days) after receiving your letter. If you bought an unsatisfactory product, you may also dispute the charge for that product and withhold payment on the disputed amount during the dispute period. You must pay for any part of the bill which is not disputed. Unless you bought the product from the credit card company, this protection applies only if you bought the item in your home state or within 100 miles of your current billing address and the amount charged is more than $50.00. If your credit card is lost or stolen, report this to the credit card company immediately. Your maximum liability is the amount of the unauthorized loss or $50.00, whichever is less.

New Hampshire Bar Association

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