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Coronavirus

Thousands ordered face masks they never received – Red flags to look for

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered an online shopping boom that doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. While mom-and-pop shops across the nation remained closed, big names like Amazon and Walmart swooped in to capture billions of dollars in e-commerce sales.

But it wasn’t just the major companies that had a stellar performance during the peak of the pandemic. Online stores across the web regularly sold out of essential products like hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Amazon, in particular, made more money than Black Friday 2019 every single day of April 2020. Tap or click here to see why.

Even though billions of dollars in online sales were recorded during the pandemic, that doesn’t mean every order was completely fulfilled and shipped. The FTC is currently handling a record number of complaints about undelivered orders of protective equipment like face masks, and the verdict is out on whether or not these vendors will come through at all.

More than 18,000 orders go unfulfilled

According to a bulletin posted by the FTC, the commission is acting against a number of online sellers that failed to live up to their promises for fast delivery of protective equipment. From April through May of 2020, more than 18,000 orders went unfulfilled and undelivered, with many more having additional issues.

Why is the FTC taking these faulty orders so seriously? Mostly because unfulfilled orders contained personal protective equipment, with some even including bulk shipments of items like masks to hospitals and nursing homes. Aside from masks, other undelivered items include essential goods like hand sanitizer, toilet paper, gloves and thermometers.

Some of the implicated sellers don’t appear to have made honest shipping mistakes on the matter, either. One example noted in the FTC’s bulletin describes a seller that would print shipping labels soon after a sale was closed — but would fail to give products to the post office for weeks-to-months after they claimed.

These numbers are staggering when you consider that during the average holiday season, the FTC receives about half the amount of complaints. What’s more, the items that failed to deliver are goods that could very well have saved lives, which adds more weight to the FTC’s actions as it works to resolve the issues.

RELATED: Tap or click here to see our pick for the best germ-blocking face mask

I ordered supplies and protective equipment that never arrived. What should I do?

Just because the FTC is taking enforcement action against problematic sellers now doesn’t mean it can’t help you with any e-commerce issues you’re having.

If you’ve ordered PPE or other COVID-19-related supplies in the past several months and had issues with shipment or communication, the FTC keeps an open tipline for investigating claims of fraud and abuse.

To file a consumer complaint, tap or click here to visit the FTC’s consumer complaint homepage and look for the category “Internet Services, Online Shopping or Computers” on the left-hand sidebar. Fill out all relevant information about your claim, and make sure to include accurate contact information so the FTC can keep you in the loop.

Of course, if you’re still looking for in-stock supplies and equipment, it helps to know which websites have the items you’re looking for in stock. Luckily, we have the perfect tool for your online shopping endeavors.

Tap or click here for the free online tool that tells you what items are in-stock or not.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, advice, or health objectives.

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