Winnie Murugi
Winnie Murugi
Health and Beauty Expert

Online shopping comes with its share of pitfalls, and delivery problems are among them. These include shipping issues, delayed delivery, lost packages, failed delivery, and missing stuff that result in items not received. Therefore, ensure you adhere to safe online shopping practices to avoid order issues.

This article offers valuable consumer insights on what to do if you paid for goods but never received them to make sure your hard-earned money doesn't melt away.

Key Insights

  • The two main consumer laws that protect you against order problems are the Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule and the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA).
  • If you want to receive an item that wasn't delivered, contact the retailer or shipping company to check the status of your shipment, explore local pickup options, and contact customer support for help.
  • To request a refund for undelivered orders, contact the retailer, provide your order details, follow refund procedures, record communication, allow processing time, and follow up if the refund is delayed.

Why Would an Order Not Be Delivered?

When you are frustrated with a failed or delayed delivery, the last thing you want to think about is why your order is not here yet. However, taking a moment to understand what could be happening behind delivery problems, can help you choose the best course of actions.

Here are some possible reasons why you paid for goods but never received them:

  • Inaccurate inventory management: An item can be listed as available when it’s actually out of stock.
  • Packaging and fulfillment errors resulting in lost packages: Due to mistakes during the packing process, a parcel may be mislabeled or misplaced.
  • Tracking glitches or missed scans leading to lost packages: Issues with tracking systems can make a package appear as lost when it’s in transit.
  • Incorrect address: Your package may be undeliverable because of incorrect or incomplete address. 
  • Unexpected route obstacles: Due to road closures or transportation issues, there can be a disruption in the delivery route.
  • Loss or damage in transit: A package may get lost or damaged during the transportation process, hence, it will be rendered as undeliverable.
  • Porch theft hence missing order: Packages that are left on porches unattended are susceptible to theft.
  • Poor weather conditions that cause shipping issues: Severe weather conditions may cause delays in delivery schedules.
  • High order volume: During peak seasons and sales events, high order volumes may lead to delays.
  • Failed delivery attempt: If you are not available to receive a package, the delivery attempt may be marked as failed.

Sometimes, when customers reach out to sellers for missing orders, they do not always get a clear explanation and even give up on getting a refund if they request it, as evidenced in Mercari review #5758725:

I contacted useless mercari help and they stated if it doesn't update by 3-26-2024 they would refund me, but didn't…

C`ustomers must also beware of the latest scams, such as Facebook Marketplace scams, whereby you pay for goods but never receive them.

Your Rights When Order Not Delivered

When you encounter delivery issues, you should know that you are not entirely at the mercy of sellers. There are federal and state laws to protect you. Below is an overview of your consumer rights regarding non-delivered items according to Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The first applicable law is the Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule, which provides stipulations regarding shipping dates and delays as follows:

A seller has to ship your order within the shipping timeline they promise. If they do not indicate the shipping time, the order should be shipped within 30 days from the day you place it.

If there is a delay, the seller should communicate it to you, explain the reason, and provide new shipping dates. They are also obliged to offer you a chance to cancel for a full refund.

In case of further delays, they should notify you, provide new shipping dates, or cancel your order and issue you a full refund.

If you opt for a refund, the seller should issue it within seven working days after the order is canceled.

FTC - Resolving order issuesSource: FTC

The second applicable law is the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA). The FCBA treats charges for undelivered items as billing errors. Therefore, if the seller refuses to refund you, you may write a dispute letter to your credit card issuer within 60 days to dispute the charge.

Note that the FCBA consumer protection only applies to payments made using a credit card. However, you may reach out to your bank to find out if they offer consumer protection.

You have the right to be heard. Therefore, you may write reviews and become a member of consumer communities like the PissedConsumer Club. In addition, you may file a complaint with the FTC.

Actions to Take When Order Is Delayed But Desired

However, not all consumers want to receive refunds. Some of them would prefer to get what they ordered, as mentioned in review #5440405:

Company fixed the issue and I have been provided with full refund… Although I would have preferred them just to deliver the item as now I have t pay more to buy it again.

If that’s your case, follow these steps:

  1. Contact the retailer or shipping company to inquire about the status of your delivery.
  2. Request expedited shipping or alternative delivery arrangements in case the delivery can be sped up, or there are other available delivery options.
  3. Confirm and update the delivery address if necessary. Check if all the provided mailing details are correct.
  4. Track the package using the provided tracking information to monitor the progress of your shipment.
  5. Explore in-store pickup or local delivery options. Maybe you can pick up your order at a nearby store.
  6. Consider upgrading the shipping method for faster delivery. Consider paying extra for quicker shipping options.
  7. Contact customer support for further assistance.

Steps for Requesting a Refund for Undelivered Orders

At the same time, if you do prefer to get a refund for the items not received, here are the steps to take:

  1. Contact the retailer or seller to request a refund.
  2. Provide details of the undelivered order, including the order number and tracking information, to speed up the refund process.
  3. Follow any specific refund procedures outlined by the retailer. Be cooperative to receive your refund quicker.
  4. Keep records of all communication regarding the refund request. Save all the emails and messages shared in the refund process.
  5. Be prepared to provide evidence of non-delivery if required.
  6. Allow a reasonable time frame for the refund to be processed.
  7. Follow up with the retailer if the refund is not received within the specified time frame.

Despite following the above steps, customer reviews on indicate that some customers still have difficulty getting a refund, as mentioned in review #5394028, where a customer shares their experience with ordering from Alibaba.

“…They keep insisting I got my order and won't refund my money (about $175.00).

Have You Encountered Order Problems?

Was your package not delivered? Or did you have a smooth experience with no shipping issues? Share your story - either positive or negative - with other consumers. You may write a review on

Legal disclaimers:

  1. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide any legal, medical, accounting, investment or any other professional advice as individual cases may vary and should be discussed with a corresponding expert and/or an attorney.
  2. All or some image copyright belongs to the original owner(s). No copyright infringement intended.

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