In addition to whatever the provisions of the contract may be, consumer protection laws will apply to this transaction, and will override any contrary provisions in the contract. There are federal protections, mostly administered by the FTC. The State of California also has consumer protection statutes, the Unfair Competition Law (UCL), Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), and False Advertising Law (FAL).
Contracts may not override these laws except where a specific provision permits such contract terms.
The official FTC page "What To Do If You’re Billed for Things You Never Got, or You Get Unordered Products" states:
The federal Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule applies to most things you order by mail, online, or by phone. It says:
- Sellers have to ship your order within the time they (or their ads) say — that goes whether they say “2-Day Shipping” or “In Stock & Ships Today.” If they don’t give a time, they must ship within 30 days of when you placed your order.
- If there’s a delay shipping your order, the seller has to tell you and give you the choice of either agreeing to the delay or canceling your order for a full refund.
- If the seller doesn’t ship your order, it has to give you a full refund — not just a gift card or store credit.
Disputing credit card billing errors within the 60-day dispute period
By law, you have to dispute a credit card billing error in writing within 60 days of the date that the first statement that has the billing error was sent to you. Otherwise, you may get stuck with the bill.
Disputing credit card billing errors after the 60-day dispute period ends
What if you agreed to delivery on a date in the future that turns out to be more than 60 days after your statement showing the charge was sent to you — but the delivery didn’t arrive or you rejected it because it was not what you agreed to purchase? Can you still dispute the charge?
You’re likely outside the protection of the Fair Credit Billing Act. Still, some credit card issuers may extend the 60-day dispute period when a shipment is delayed. Send a dispute letter to your credit card company. Include copies of any documents showing the expected and actual delivery dates, including any notice the seller sent you about the shipment delay.
See also the official "Business Guide to the FTC's Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule"
The actual Federal Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule is at 16 CFR Part 435; relevant parts of this rule provide:
(435.1 (b)) "Prompt refund" shall mean:
(1) Where a refund is made pursuant to paragraph (d)(1), (d)(2)(ii), (d)(2)(iii), or (d)(3) of this section, a refund sent by any means at least as fast and reliable as first class mail within seven (7) working days of the date on which the buyer's right to refund vests under the provisions of this part. Provided, however, that where the seller cannot provide a refund by the same method payment was tendered, prompt refund shall mean a refund sent in the form of cash, check, or money order, by any means at least as fast and reliable as first class mail, within seven (7) working days of the date on which the seller discovers it cannot provide a refund by the same method as payment was tendered;
(§ 435.2) ... it constitutes an unfair method of competition, and an unfair or deceptive act or practice for a seller:
(a) (1) To solicit any order for the sale of merchandise to be ordered by the buyer through the mail, via the Internet, or by telephone unless, at the time of the solicitation, the seller has a reasonable basis to expect that it will be able to ship any ordered merchandise to the buyer:
(a) (1) (i) Within that time clearly and conspicuously stated in any such solicitation; or
(a) (1) (ii) If no time is clearly and conspicuously stated, within thirty (30) days after receipt of a properly completed order from the buyer. Provided, however, where, at the time the merchandise is ordered the buyer applies to the seller for credit to pay for the merchandise in whole or in part, the seller shall have fifty (50) days, rather than thirty (30) days, to perform the actions required in this paragraph (a)(1)(ii).
(a) (2) To provide any buyer with any revised shipping date, as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, unless, at the time any such revised shipping date is provided, the seller has a reasonable basis for making such representation regarding a definite revised shipping date.
(a) (3) To inform any buyer that it is unable to make any representation regarding the length of any delay unless:
(a) (3) (i) The seller has a reasonable basis for so informing the buyer; and
(a) (3) (ii) The seller informs the buyer of the reason or reasons for the delay.
(a) (4) In any action brought by the Federal Trade Commission, alleging a violation of this part, the failure of a respondent-seller to have records or other documentary proof establishing its use of systems and procedures which assure the shipment of merchandise in the ordinary course of business within any applicable time set forth in this part will create a rebuttable presumption that the seller lacked a reasonable basis for any expectation of shipment within said applicable time.
(b) (1) Where a seller is unable to ship merchandise within the applicable time set forth in paragraph (a)(1) of this section, to fail to offer to the buyer, clearly and conspicuously and without prior demand, an option either to consent to a delay in shipping or to cancel the buyer`s order and receive a prompt refund. Said offer shall be made within a reasonable time after the seller first becomes aware of its inability to ship within the applicable time set forth in paragraph (a)(1) of this section, but in no event later than said applicable time.
There are further provisions which deal with the situation where a delayed order is further delayed, and what consent the buyer may have already given to any delay.
In short, where the seller is unable to meet its estimated time for shipment of the order, the seller must promptly inform the buyer, in no case later than the original estimated shipment date, and must offer an option to cancel the order. Unless the buyer explicitly consents to the delay (definite or indefinite) the seller must send a prompt refund, which means within 7 working days. No contract purporting to waive or modify these rights is valid or enforceable on these points, although if the initial order explicitly states that the date of shipment is indefinite, and the customer agrees to this, no shipment date can be enforced under this rule.
California Civil Code section 1723 requires that a retail store selling goods allow returns or exchanges for at least 7 days, or else prominently post its actual policy. But that does not apply to goods ordered for later delivery.
The California Business and Professions Code section 17500 makes it unlawful for:
any person, firm, corporation or association, or any employee thereof with intent directly or indirectly to dispose of real or personal property or to perform services, professional or otherwise, or anything of any nature whatsoever or to induce the public to enter into any obligation relating thereto, to make or disseminate or cause to be made or disseminated before the public in this state, or to make or disseminate or cause to be made or disseminated from this state before the public in any state, in any newspaper or other publication, or any advertising device, or by public outcry or proclamation, or in any other manner or means whatever, including over the Internet, any statement, concerning that real or personal property or those services, professional or otherwise, or concerning any circumstance or matter of fact connected with the proposed performance or disposition thereof, which is untrue or misleading, and which is known, or which by the exercise of reasonable care should be known, to be untrue or misleading
This would include advertising a shipment date which was not reasonably achievable, and which the seller knew or should have know was likely not to be met.
The California Civil code section 17770 makes unlawful:
(10) Advertising goods or services with intent not to supply reasonably expectable demand, unless the advertisement discloses a limitation of quantity.
This may not apply to the fact pattern described in the question, depending on what the seller knew and when.