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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‘Serial returners’ hit by new ASOS policy

Online retailer tackles perceived abuse by online customers

ASOS changes in terms and conditions

ASOS has changed its returns policy. In a move that some might consider to be customer unfriendly, it has made significant changes to its returns policy. It hits out at serial returners and customers who wear something once and then return it

ASOS emailed all its customers regarding the new terms and conditions.

“If we notice an unusual pattern of returns activity that doesn’t sit right: e.g. we suspect someone is actually wearing their purchases and then returning them or ordering and returning loads -- way, waaay more than even the most loyal ASOS customer would order -- then we might have to deactivate the account and any associated accounts.”

In addition to cracking down on serial returners, Asos’ new returns policy will allow shoppers to return unwanted purchases up to 45 days from point of purchase rather than 28.

The first paragraph is the softener, extending the returns time. There isn’t a need to do this. Under the under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 you have a 14 day cooling-off period during which you can change your mind. You have up to 14 days to inform the retailer and 14 days from then to send back the item.  There are some exceptions to this, such as bespoke items. And in any case, if people are going to return an item what difference does an extra couple of weeks make to nearly a month/

However, the second part is contentious. ASOS says that if it suspects a customer of wearing an item once and then returning it, it may ban the customer from ordering from its site. Or if a customer orders a high number of clothes and returns them too frequently they may also get banned.

From the shopper’s point of view

People buy from the Internet for a number of reasons including, for example

  • Inability to get to shops due to disability, lack of transport, lack of suitable local shops, etc.
  • Convenience
  • Choice
  • Price

There are no changing rooms on the Internet, so it isn’t surprising that people buy more items to see what fits. A couple of years ago, when wanting to find a dress for a special event, I ordered about 50 dresses! I rarely wear dresses, am all out of proportion and the thought of traipsing round shops and trying stuff on filled me with dread. So I took to the Internet and then tried on one dress after another. All but one went back.

Years and years ago we had catalogues, remember? Littlewoods, Freemans etc. We ordered from them and either paid it all off in one go or paid monthly. But all the items cost more than they did in the shops, even if you paid it all off in one go. The cost of people returning items for free was clearly factored into the cost. Big firms like ASOS should be able to cope with this, surely?

As Keshia East, beauty blogger says (see video below) “With social media, young people are buying things wearing them and returning them because they want fast fashion. It’s the culture now and firms like ASOS  feed into that”.

Your rights

Your rights when shopping online

Will this new measure work?

It’s interesting because I think it is just scaremongering. Social media was rife with suggestions that ASOS would look at social media and people’s accounts and look for pictures where people have taken photos of themselves, tagged ASOS and then returned the items. Ridiculous. If ASOS had the resources to look at that they would be far more than the loss they may be currently making from people returning items.

I doubt it will make any difference at all. Why should it? How will ASOS prove anything and would it risk the possible backfire if it got a customer’s details wrong?!

Other retailers may watch with interest, but the more innovative companies may look at comparing costs of returns against any backlash from getting things wrong and looking at ways to stop people being able to wear something once and return it in t

 

ASOS change in returns policy

Help and advice on effective complaining

Why you should write not ‘phone to complain effectively the importance of writing not phoning when complaining

For more help on complaining effectively see Top 20 Tips How to Complain!

 

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logoFor masses of information, tips, guidance, laws and regulations and templates GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!