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All you need to know about unsolicited goods

Have you received unsolicited goods?

Can you keep the goods you believe are unsolicited?

One of the most frequent things I get asked about is unsolicited goods. Many people believe that if they receive something sent by mistake they can keep it. Here are some situations in which people commonly think they can keep the goods because they are unsolicited goods when they legally can’t because they aren’t!

It is very very rare to get unsolicited goods in this country!

I have received goods that I did not order from a company I have used before. Can I keep it?

This is highly likely to be a mistake as your details will be on the company’s computer system and have been muddled with somebody else’s as a result of an administrative error.

Find the sender’s details and  contact the company and tell them that you have received the item and that you expect them, or their courier, to come and collect it. Give them a deadline for when they should do this and if you do not hear from them by this date you will dispose of the item.

I ordered one item and a different item/extra came. Can I keep the item and get my money back for the item I ordered?

No. This is clearly an administrative error. You should contact the company, tell them what has happened and request return procedure details. Ensure that you are not paying for the return of the item. Although you are able to return an item within 14 days for a change of mind this is not a change of mind. This is the company’s error and they must pay for the return postage. You also need to make sure you have an evidence trail of the paperwork to show that you informed them that the wrong item was sent and returned so that you get refunded correctly. A suitable deadline is between one and two weeks.

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 you are entitled to the items that you ordered. Follow the advice in this post and Top 20 Tips How to Complain!

The goods were sent to my address but not in my name. Can I keep it?

You cannot keep the item. Look for a company address and contact the company regarding return.

I ordered an item from Company A. Company B supplies A and both sent me the item. Can I keep both goods?

This is a mistake. You will need to contact the company with which you do not have the contract (the company you did not pay) and arrange collection/return.

I received an order I cancelled. Can I keep it?

This is a mistake. As above, you need to arrange for a return by a deadline you give.

I have received an order I didn’t make but everything is in my name?

This is very likely to be a scam. Companies send you items in your name so that they can write fake reviews particularly items from China and particularly Amazon. Ensure you change all your passwords for everything that may have been compromised. e.g. Amazon website, emails and any financial information. Inform the site if you know which it is that fraudulent activity has occurred on your account.

True unsolicited goods

Most people are familiar with the Unsolicited Goods and Services Act 1971. However, unsolicited goods are also covered in the newer regulations The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013) which say you have a right to keep goods delivered to you that you didn’t request. Specifically, from the explanatory note that accompanies the legislation:

“Part 4 of the Regulations contains provisions concerning protection from unsolicited sales and additional charges which have not been expressly agreed in advance. Regulation 39 introduces a new provision into the Consumer Protection Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 which provides that a consumer is not required to pay for the unsolicited supply of products. Regulation 40 provides that a consumer is not required to make payments in addition to those agreed for the trader’s main obligation, unless the consumer gave express consent before conclusion of the contract”.

Explanatory note to the legislation.

You are under no legal obligation to contact the trader and can keep the goods. You could contact them in case a mistake has been made and to completely cover yourself as  truly unsolicited goods sent within the UK are very rare these days.

Your rights when you think you have received unsolicited goods and what you should do.


woman holding box unsolicited goods your rightsFurther consumer rights help

If you have issues such as those above, they will probably fall into a breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 which means you can still get redress.

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By Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow

Consultant | Author | Speaker | Blogger | Presenter | Journalist
Helping to make, prevent and deal with complaints

71 replies on “All you need to know about unsolicited goods”

Dear Helen, I just read your article online about unsolicited goods etc.
Oils you please advise me in this scenario?
I bought a phone from a well known online manufacturer at the end of 2019.
Because I was not available for the delivery the phone was returned and I was told that the order would be cancelled and refunded. I stressed that I did not want to cancel the order or a refund; I wanted the phone.
They duly sent a replacement but are now (three months later) claiming that I was refunded and need to pay!
I don’t have my records for this period yet but – assuming that they did refund me – what must I do?

A package delivered for my address with a different business name has been sitting with me for two years, that business has a debt collection company on the case and court letters but can they really proceed with all this seeing as A. I still have the package unopened B. They made the mess up. I did sign for the package however. Should I be paying these debt fees for something that isn’t my fault or should I ignore it?

Sorry Jason, just seen that my reply to this didn’t go through for some reason.

You are not responsible for the debts because the package is not in your name. I guess you did write to the company as per above. If you didn’t I’d suggest you do quickly and ask them to collect the item etc as per advice above.

Dear Helen, I am browsing the internet for help and your “unsolicited goods” page is the closest match I could find. Thank you very much!
Maybe there is a chance that you could enlighten me a bit more: More than six months ago I spent €2000 on a musical instrument from a UK company, which was delivered to Germany. It turned out to be faulty, so I got a replacement and was told to wait for a return shipping label for the first one, but I never got it despite asking for it several times – just silence from the company. Now I have two bulky instruments sitting in my small apartment and I don’t know what to do with the unwanted one.
According to UK law how long do I need to wait until I can get rid of it? (sell it, dump it, whatever) I guess it’s not really unsolicited goods, is it?
Best regards, Peter

See link to Consumer Rights Act. You simply write to the company requesting the label by a certain date and that if you don’t receive it by then you will dispose of it.

Hi Helen

I’ve found myself in this situation, I received an item from a company that I have never heard of or used, the package was addressed to me using my full name, there was no note or receipt in the box. I’ve tried to contact the company on the return address but haven’t had a response yet. No money’s been taken from my bank or any other service I use so I definitely didn’t order them. Am I able to keep the item in this situation or should I return it?

Hello. I received an item I didn’t order but I have absolutely no idea where it came from, all that is written on the package is next day delivery with no reference to the seller who posted it. Would you deem this to be true unsolicited goods? Please give me an actual response instead of referring me back to the post as I have read and understood it but I am unsure if it applies to my situation.

Why should I give you an “actual response” when you are so rude? Despite your rudeness I have given you an actual response. This one. You come to a site that is not funded that provides you with free advice. You read an article that does answer your question and then you rudely ask for more free help. Please note any response from you will go straight to spam and go unread.

I purchased a mobile phone from samsung directly with a contract sim they said the order was complete passed credit check and was dispatched I also paid £85 in was then contacted by them a few days later to they order failed credit check and was cancelled and refunded the £85 the phone was then delivered and my partner unaware of the situation had opened it I have made contact with samsung to explain although no specific response yet as they cant understand how it has happened and keep passing to a different dept. any advice on this would be grateful

Follow advice about putting in writing and giving deadline.

My wife received a tiny package of seeds completely unsolicited from a Malaysian ‘locked box address’. Her address and mobile phone number were on the front of the package- a trawl of the internet would seem to show this is part of some sort of scam whereby low value items are sent as a way of creating fake transactions to increase someone’s feedback scores on shopping sites like amazon. Someone else was sent a single marble and another person an empty ink cartridge- the worry is someone is using her identity
What would you do?

Ignore it. You could inform Amazon see what they say but I’d advise using the words “please” and “thank you” when asking them for feedback.

Hi Helen, A small problem I purchased some carbon wheels from Edco-Wheels from Germany 4 weeks ago(28th April 2020). Order was processed on 29th April through DHL Packet(lower end delivery service) and the tracking got stuck on 7th May 2020 with no update,and I was aware of some delays due to covid-19
I sent a email to DHL Monday 18th May asking for a investigation and update . With no response on Thursday 21st May ,I contacted Edco Wheels and explained the situation and copy of my email I sent to DHL. They contacted DHL on the same day and they came back to them and confirmed as a missing lost item( I am assuming they have been reimbursed by DHL for the costs of the valued item.)
Edco straight away sent me another order this time with DHL EXPRESS. It will arrive to me Tuesday 26th May.

I now have discovered today 23rd May 2020 that the 1st tracking order has now arrived at the delivery base which is delivered by the national postal service. So it was too late to cancel the 2nd order as it also has arrived at the delivery base this will delivered by DHL EXPRESS.
So now I will get 2 sets of wheels at £850 each! So what do I do in following, Edco insist me on paying for the return postage cost if I end with 2 packages, I said no as it’s not my problem and not my fault!
1. Do I keep both packages and say nothing.
2. Do I notify the company and have them returned at there expense.
3. What happens if they continue to ask for postage costs and I refuse to do so.

I am assuming they have been covered by DHL or by there insurance company for there lost costs of the 1st Order.
I would grateful for your advice on this as soon as possible as its getting rather complicated to say the least.
Regards Jon

Hi Helen thanks for your kind response ,it’s actually been delivered to me in Portugal(ex UK citizen) ,so assume it will come under E.U. law and German Law. so it is abit of a minefield for sure. The way I see it is DHL are fault here, so yes it not classed as unsolicited goods. But I should not be paying for the return costs.

See links I provided as I say, EU law, UK law doesn’t come into it.

I wonder if you can help me – the mistake is mine. I ordered £50 worth of items to be delivered but I hadn’t updated my address so the package from Superdrug was sent to my old property. I am in the process of asking an old neighbour to find out whether the new owners have received the package but if they say no, what do I do? Thank you in advance for any advice…

Your mistake. You can only inform Superdrug and see what they say. If the neighbours say they haven’t received it you can say that but they well have proof that it was delivered and then your argument is with your old neighbours not Superdrug

Hello Helen!

I placed an order with a company I usually order from. They got an order mix up and I received the wrong items. I contacted them by email saying I received the wrong items and asked them how to proceed to return the items I received. The company apologised for the mistake and sent me the correct items a few days later, but didn’t reply to my question regarding the return. It’s now been 1.5 month, am I right to assume I can keep the items that were sent to me by mistake?

Thank you very much for your time!

Please see post above and what to put in your email re deadline

This is really interesting – what is your opinion on my current situation:

I ordered two products (a large canister of bitumen paint and a large canister of roofing adhesive) from “Company A” several weeks ago. The adhesive arrived damaged and leaking, so Company A sent me a replacement canister and told me to dispose of the leaky one.

About ten days ago, another canister of bitumen paint arrived from “Company B”. Worried I had someone else’s order I contacted them and said a mistake has been made – they then told me they were sending it because of my damaged order from Company A… I explained that the previous issue had been sorted, and it was only half of the order that was damaged (the adhesive, not the paint) and what should I do with the new canister.

I was told that I had to keep it and they, in turn, would have their carriers collect it. Ten days later, and several emails, they are now telling me their carriers can’t collect it for some reason and that their staff are furloughed… I asked at the end of last week that they hurry up and collect it – it’s a small barrel on a pallet, and is in the way. Only to be told that I could arrange a courier for them and then they will pay me back!

It’s insane, as it’s going to cost more than it’s worth to return it. I’m beginning to wish I never pointed out their mistake. At what point can I just dispose of it?

Thank you. Do I fall into the section called “I have received an item that I did not order from a company I have used before”? And if so, please could you give me a steer on what constitutes a reasonable deadline to set given the timescales in my case?

I would literally be copying and pasting what is in the post! Please follow advice in post suggested deadline two weeks.

Hi Helen. We ordered a bed from a reputable furniture company. They are a nightmare to get in touch with but cut a long story short they have delivered our bed AND another bed ! We have messaged them on twitter several times to let them know but they haven’t come back to us and the bed is getting in the way. It’s been three weeks now and still no response so can we dispose of the bed ? Thanks

This is not unsolicited goods. Please follow advice in post and in the links above re Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Tips for everything you need to do.

Dear Helen,

Thank you for this helpful blog. I have ordered a piece of furniture. As it didnt arrive in several weeks and the company was unresponsive, I asked my bank for a refund and got it.

However, the piece of furniture came two months later. Additionally, I did not sign for the package, it was just left in the doorway, so I didnt have the chance to send it back directly.

I have tried to contact them for weeks, but no reply. Could you please tell me what is the reasonable deadline to ask them to pick it up (I am moving very soon) and what on earth to do, if they do not reply?

Thank you and best wishes

Not unsolicited goods. Please see the post above and links within and follow the advice.

Some help please,

I hired a lens from Canon and when they were due to pick it up they never showed. I contacted them and they said the driver forgot but would be back the following – again no one showed up so I called back and told them I was away working until the following week, they said to keep the item packaged up and they would send someone the following week. Yet again no show, Three days I have wasted as collection can be anytime between 7:00-18:00. The lens is worth a lot of money £2k and I paid a deposit £400. What is my rights here:

1 Can I keep the lens and get my deposit back
2 Can I keep the lens and forget my deposit
3 Can I start charging for my time until they collect the lens (if so how much)
4 Do I need to keep chasing Canon
5 Other????

Please HELP!

All the answers to your queries are in the post and the links within, follow the advice and no you can’t charge for your wasted time.

Hello Helen! I won an item from a raffle in which they sent the item to my address but on top of that they also sent another item to my address both are in my name, neither have been signed for.

Would I have to return the one I ‘didn’t win’ ? or is this considered unsolicited goods?


Of course it isn’t unsolicited goods! Of course it is a mistake! Contact the sender.

I purchased 5 items from a company that keeps changing names. Each time they sent me nothing I ordered just tat things. I reported to PayPal as a fraud company and they are looking into it! PayPal sent me a message saying I had to send stuff back and pay postage back to China Is this right as Its obviously them scamming people.

Hi, I wonder if you can help me, I recently purchased a Tv from Argos, all seemed fine, got home and it was completely the wrong tv in the box, I assume that it had been returned by another customer, so they put their old broken tv in the box, kept the new one and took it back and now I’ve ended up with completely the wrong tv and it’s faulty, I tried taking it back in store and they just say the serial numbers don’t match so it’s not our responsibility, it’s not the item we sold you. No. It’s not the item I thought I was buying but it’s definitely the one I got. Furious at them and lost about £600 but do I actually have a leg to stand on?

That’s difficult because of course it’s really difficult to prove! You could try contacting the manufacturer of the old tv if it is a SMART tv that has sent a signal but GDPRs may stop them giving you much detail. Follow the tips for complaining and threaten legal action through the Small Claims Court. Good luck, horrible position to be in.

Very informative post, thank you. I have just received in the post 2 “official “We’ll Meet Again” Vera Lynn coins from a company called The London Mint Office. No idea how they have my address and I certainly haven’t ordered them. The correspondence states that payment is due on receipt of invoice, and the invoice states the coins are £2.50 each. Seems to fall under unsolicited goods to me, however they also state I can phone them for a returns label, but I don’t see why I should go to the effort of ringing them, packaging it back up, going to the post office for proof of postage (which they ask for), Do the rules still apply (that I can keep or dispose) given that they have provided the means to return them (albeit at my personal effort)? Many thanks

I have just received a tablet that I didn’t order.

It was sent from a fulfilment e-commerce type company. I googled it and one of its clients is a manufacturer that I have ordered from a year or so ago that sent it themselves when I ordered from them. Since the package has come from a fulfilment company not the manufacturer that I have ordered from before does it fall under unsolicited goods?

Being a manufacturer is irrelevant. Clearly a mistake certainly not unsolicited goods. Please follow the advice above for return. If you’re after them saying you can keep it I’d think it highly unlikely that they will say you can as the cost of return to them would be far less than the loss of a tablet. You should try using the words “Please” and “Thank you” when contacting them though as manners go a long way. You’re welcome.

Hi Helen, probably asking the wrong person, as you seem to be offering consumer advice, but anything would help. I was sent an expensive birthday present by my niece who put down my address incorrectly. It was delivered and signed for and now the neighbour won’t answering the door, clearly due to wanting to keep it (curtains twitch to see who it is). I left a note about a week ago. I know she made a mistake, but they’re surely not within their rights to keep it? Even if there’s not much I can do, that’s surely illegal? Thanks in advance!

She should be doing what I advise people who have not received unsolicited goods as in this case to do. The sender could try writing to her and in theory provide retrun packaging or tell her to give it to next door.

Hi Helen, I had a few preorders for a well known company.
I wanted to cancel one item from my order and keep one, however the advisor ended up cancelling both pre orders and couldn’t rebook because the stock was gone. We were never informed of the cancellation because the advisor tried to hide what she did. We recieved a full refund. On the release day we were randomly sent a pre order for the item we wanted to cancel in the first place.
What can I do about this.
Kind regards Mike

Please follow the advice above about a mistake. I’d also advise following the Tips and using the words “Please” and “Thank you” when requesting help from them.

I have a query,
Apologies if it’s been answered.

My father received a parcel with a value well over £1000, however he did not order it nor did he pay for it.

It was in his name used his email address and sent to his full home address?

It was paid for using a bank card or credit card he does not own and upon speaking twice with the retailer the account isn’t on there system and neither is his email address.

He received multiple emails confirming the order and the delivery from a reputable courier and who ever did this even had it redirected to a store for collection as my my father was out when they attempted delivery.

Legally it is in his name, invoiced in his name & delivery address is his.

What should he do?

Hi I had a damaged fridge which has been replaced about 4 times which all been damaged the last one they forgot to collect the old one when they delivered the new one the DHL drivers said you can keep the old one as it’s not been listed or something like that but 2 days later the company are ringing me to collect the old one can I ignore and keep both as they we’re ment to collect and deliver on same day…also they were ment to unpackaged my delivery and they didn’t…does this fall under the unsolicited goods act Thanks

Absolutely not unsolicited goods. Please follow the advice in the post above.

Hello Helen, I received a couple of packages that I did not order from a company that I had never heard of. They were all under my name. Are these packages considered unsolicited goods, and would I have to return them? (the value of the items delivered total approx.£600)

Hi Helen,

I hope you don’t mind answering my question too!

I bought a gaming wheel in November and after a couple hours of use, it broke. The refund process was a little bit of a pain but I managed to get a label and took it to a courier.

Once it arrived at their facility, they confirmed it was faulty and agreed on a refund. A few days ago, I received a replacement, and over the next few days they also gave me a refund through PayPal.

They sent me an email confirming their mistake and they will send a courier to pick it up from my place.

Does this count as unsolicited goods? The company is based in Germany.

Hi Helen, I have ordered some products from a german company and by accident they did sent me the exact product twice, one was obviously a mistake. As the goods were sent from Germany to the UK, can I keep the products now as “unsoiliticed goods” or does the UK law not apply here and I therefore have to sent it back to them?

Maybe you can tell me what law would apply in such a case.

thanks and god bless

Of course it isn’t unsolicited goods! You have said yourself it is a mistake! Please see post above, actions are the same. Test for your own morals not the law.

I’m really sorry in advance if this question has been answered and I know you probably get many different scenarios but I wondered if you’d be able to help me please.
I’ve been looking at sheds to buy. One of the sites I was looking at had a finance option which I looked into to see if I’d be eligible. Despite being eligible for the finance, I took it no further and ordered a shed from a completely separate company and picked my delivery date.
I got a phone call whilst at work to say my shed was being delivered (around 3 weeks before I was expecting) so had to rush home from work to have it delivered. I lost half a days wages due to this. On closer inspection of all the shed parts, I realised it wasn’t the one I ordered and the one I had ordered hadn’t been despatched and was still due to come on my delivery date.
It turned out the be a shed from a site I have never brought from and they claimed that the finance company Klarna sent them the order to be fulfilled. I have had no order confirmation (as I didn’t make an order), I have no finance with Klarna, and no money come out of my bank. This shed has just turned up addressed to me for no reason. I rung the company and they said they wanted to collect it but said they’d be unable for a week or so and were very rude to me aswell.
This item hasn’t been sent by mistake. It isn’t something I’ve ordered and cancelled or something I’ve been sent a multiple of. In your opinion, would you class this as true unsolicited goods?
Thank you so much in advance!

Clearly a mistake. They have even said they will collect. Please follow the advice regarding collection and doing so in writing.

Dear Helen.
I hope you can help.
My wife returned home to find a parcel on our doorstep in my name.
It was delivered by Hermes courier company and appears to have the name of the seller.
I have never bought anything from this seller, there is no website for the seller, or Amazon marketplace. There are some 1 star reviews by some disgruntled customers suggesting they have ordered good but not received them in the past. Companies house site backs up that it is a registered company but nothing more.
I have two questions:
1 – who should I contact to return this package, I have no intention of opening, let alone keeping the package e.g. police? Hermes? the Company?
2 – should I be concerned I’ve been ‘hacked’ or my personal details compromised somewhere as to them sending me a package with my correct name/address details?

Any help / guidance you can provide will be greatly appreciated.
I have not included the company name but could provide that if it would help?

Kind regards
I A.

I emailed a German publisher to enquire how much a German magazine would cost to be sent to my address in the UK. They emailed me to say how much it would be. I emailed back to say I would pay with transferwise if I decided to order it. A few weeks later I received an invoice in the post for 10 euros. On the invoice it said for the magazine had been delivered, even though I hadn’t confirmed the order, or received it. I emailed them, but another month later I’ve had another invoice, this time for 15 euros for late payment. They said action would be taken to recover costs. I haven’t received anything from them yet. I’ve sent them another email explaining, but can you offer any advice? Thanks.

Follow advice above. Not unsolicited goods. Company based in Germany will be covered by German law. Follow the appropriate advice in the Tips link.

We received a parcel to our address in August. We immediately contacted the company it was meant to go to, speaking to a person and giving all details about the package, name etc. They have not contacted back.

Two weeks ago we contacted the business from the invoice with the reference number and they have not got back to us.

Hi Helen,
Thanks for a really useful post! I followed your advice for a parcel mis-sent to us by a company we have never used: I phoned immediately, followed up with a letter, gave a deadline (admittedly only a week as we were moving house), made myself available for their courier, who on two occasions was a no-show despite me waiting at home all day.
Now the company have missed the deadline, the goods have gone into storage with the rest of our belongings for a few months. The company have offered to sell me the goods “at a discount” – while I might be interested in other goods from this retailer I don’t really want these ones.
I know a week deadline was short though I’m pretty frustrated that their courier failed to collect in their 7am-7pm window twice already! When the goods come out of storage, when can I draw the line on offering them time to collect please?

It really is simply follow the advice in the post. Write explaining what has happened the legal position one final chance to collect or you dispose.

Thanks so much Helen – sounds fair. Also, it’s the challenge of disposing of consumables without it looking like we’ve consumed them!!

Once the deadline has passed it is up to you how you dispose of them. Game over. And thank you for the Kofi!

Hi, i recieved a package of high value items today, they where labeled to my name and address, i have no idea where these have come from as this is completely out of the blue ive tried contacting the delivery company but they claming there nothing they can do, i am worried this may be some sort of identity theft or fraud. Any advice would be greatly appreciated

Hello—I searched the post and comments for a similar situation, but have been unable to find one, so I’d very much appreciate your advice! I am currently a full-time student in the UK (originally from the US) and received an unsolicited gift from someone in the US. The item was delivered without any accompanying notification of further payment being requested, and I could not refuse delivery because I live in group accommodation and was not home at the time. The courier has since been hounding me to pay a significant amount of money in duties and taxes, even though the sender overinflated the value of the items (a few personal effects barely worth £30) and I had absolutely no knowledge of this shipment. What do you think my options are?

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