Online stores now have to ship your orders on time, or else

Amazon shipping box

Internet stores can sometimes be far too optimistic about the time it takes to ship your order -- just ask the scores of gift givers whose packages arrived late last year. They'll have to be much more pragmatic from now on, though. The FTC has issued new rules requiring that retailers ship within a "reasonable" selected timeframe, or within 30 days if they can't provide a date. If they don't meet their targets, they'll have to either get your permission for a delay or issue a prompt refund. You can still change your mind even if you agree to wait, and saying nothing will still get your money back. The new guidelines take effect on December 8th, so you can buy your holiday presents online with a little more confidence this time around.

[Image credit: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma]