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 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.

You should 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.

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”.

Explanatory note to the legislation.

You are under no legal obligation to contact the trader and can keep the goods. However, truly unsolicited goods sent within the UK are very rare these days.

woman holding box unsolicited goods your rightsFurther 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.

Top 20 tips for complaining effectively.

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Customer service goes down, complaints are going up

Customer service is getting worse, according to the latest figures provided by The Institute of Customer Service (ICS). In figures released today, the ICS Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) has shown an decline for the fourth consecutive year. And by a significant amount too. 14.3% of consumers said that they experienced a problem with customer service. This represents a rise of 1.5% since last year’s figures.

The number of organisations failing to keep their promises or commitments alone has trebled in the last two years. At 17.2% this is the highest level ever.

The UKCSI is based on extensive in-depth research. Published twice a year, the latest figures includes 43,500 survey responses covering 240 brands across 13 sectors. Responses have been gathered from more than 10,000 consumers, answering an online questionnaire.

It will come as no surprise to consumers that the number who experience issues is at its highest recorded level ever.

One of the biggest bugbears with complaint handling cited by consumers, was companies that don’t keep their promises. Certainly I hear this a lot, along with being pushed from pillar to post, repeating oneself and not being able to complain using the format desired.

Natalie Berg, Retail Analyst and Founder of NBK Retail, agrees. She says:
“You need to be on top of your game. You need to save customers’ time or enhance it. But enhancing time goes beyond a few instore gyms or beauty bars, retailers need to give shoppers a very compelling reason to ditch their screens and come into the store.” Companies that are not keeping their promises are not saving customers’ time!

First Direct continues to hold its first place for customer service in the latest UKCSI. The top 10 organisations in the July 2019 UKCSI are:

1. first direct (which scored 86% satisfaction and is number 1 for emotional connection and customer ethos and ethics.)
2. Debenhams despite the problems. Interestingly I wrote about Debenhams and whether customer service could have prevented Debenhams decline.
3. Suzuki
4. John Lewis
5. Next
6. Amazon.co.uk
7. Ocado
8. Nationwide
9. Netflix
10. LV=

Institute of Customer Service – UKCSI July 2019 – icsmail

The Institute’s research evaluates companies based primarily on customer experience (such as getting things right first time) and customer ethos. In their view positive emotional connection and ethics can create a higher overall level of customer satisfaction.

Clearly businesses need to do more to improve their customer service and complaint handling if they want to survive. If they want to thrive they will need to do a lot more to respect customers and put matters right for them quickly and effectively. Every company makes mistakes, it is how they deal with them that matters.

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