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 five situations in which people commonly think they can keep the goods when they legally can’t.
I have received an item 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 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.
The item was 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?
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.
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”.
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.
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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