It does violates FTC Rules. Back in '99 Buy.com was doing this and the FTC fell hard on them.
You could complain to the FTC, but you will also hurt them buy disputing the order with you CC Company. Tell you CC Company that you have not received the Merchandise and that you do want it. Also tell them that the Merchant says that they will not ship it until the date of the release.
By going the CC Company route, you will have it in a dispute state and you will not have to pay them until it clears dispute. The Merchant will have to deal with the Dispute Complaint from the CC Company. The amount of Disputes/ChargeBacks a Merchant get affects their transaction rates for CC Charges. This hits them in the WALLET.
I have noticed several long time Etailers changing their CC Charging procedures and they are trying to get the money as early as possible while hoping that nobody yells too loud.
From what I understand, it is not against the law but most credit card companies have an agreement with the companies that they will not charge you until the merchandise ships. Also, if the company states that you will be charged immediately (as Overstock does), then it may be permissible to do so. My advice would be to call your CC company and ask about their policy.
Right below the Pre-Order button for it, it has this statement:
This Title Is Not Yet Released! This item will be available for shipment starting on 10/14/2003. In order to assure you Overstock.com's low price on this pre-order, we will charge your credit card when the order is placed today. The item will be shipped on or after 10/14/2003.
I was going to pre-order the Warner Legends box awhile ago but I did not want to be charged 2 months early. Plus they say say once you place an order there is NO way you can cancel it.
I think it is a terrible business practice and really sucks................BUT they give you fair warning - as ernestrp mentioned above. If you don't think it is worth it, don't shop there. I never shop at DVDSoon because of this practice.
I did just purchase Alias from Overstock and let them precharge but only because it is within a few weeks of release and the discount was MUCH greater than could be had anywhere else.
I am more upset with their cancelling policy. I ordered Victory at Sea from them. It is not due out for another month. The disc is a gift to my dad. Who I found out has it on vhs and doesn't want the dvd (Yes, I know that is another arguement ) But, they told me they can't cancel because it has been processed with the warehouse. I told them that is ridiculous since it is a month away. One rep said she will send a memo to the warehouse to see if they can cancel it. If they can't I will NEVER do business with this company again.
The credit card route is the answer as they have no argument from their end if not shipped. As mentioned earlier in the thread this will hurt them long run and may have them reflecting on this crazy policy.
Don't dispute with your credit card company if you ever want to place an order with them again. I had two overcharges, so I disputed with my credit card company. Now, specificially because of the dispute (they told me I HAVE to contact them first) I've been banned from placing orders. Unfortunately they're pretty good about catching new accounts as well....
Boy, I'm a believer on the crappiness of charging for orders immediately. Ordered something from Overstock.com on 12/19, on 12/23, I check to see if the order is shipped only to find that half of the order is now unavailable. So, I immediately contact them in an attempt to start the refund process (despite their saying they email when something is no longer available, they did not email me). Late on 12/24, I get a response confirming the item is no longer available and that a refund would be put into the system.
On 12/29, I receive another email stating the refund has now been put through and I should have it reflected on my account in seven business days.
So, it could potentially be 1/6 or 1/7 before I get the money back into my account, nearly three weeks after my card was charged.
So I can understand why a person would not want to order from a company that charged for items without even knowing whether they'll be able to complete the order because if they can't, your money is tied up with them for several weeks anyway. And, for some people, that means having to wait to go elsewhere to get that same item from someone who has it available.
It's not that big of a deal when they can follow through with your order. I mean, the difference between getting charged on a Friday vs. on the next Tuesday would not make any difference to me, but the fact that there's a significant chance that they cannot complete the order and then that forces you into a refund situation that can tie up your money for several weeks makes the difference.
"The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes