Unsolicited Goods 

I have been sent some goods that I did not order. Do I have to pay for them?

If someone sends you goods that you didn’t agree to pay for then you don’t have to pay for them, and from 17 June 2014 it is illegal for a business to demand payment for unsolicited goods. 

From 17 June 2014, if a business supplies unsolicited goods to you, they have to give you the following information:

  • That you do not have to pay for them (unless you deliberately damage or lose them).
  • That if you don’t want to keep the goods you must make them available for collection by the supplier, for a period of ten working days.
  • That if the goods haven’t been collected by the end of the ten working day period, you may keep them and the supplier can’t do anything to get the goods back or make you pay for them.

If the supplier doesn’t give you the above information at the time that they delivered the goods to you, then you may keep the goods without having to pay for them.

You can’t keep the goods if you know they weren’t intended for you, nor can you keep them if you have not given the supplier a chance to retrieve them within the 10 working day period.

While you are waiting for the unwanted goods to be collected, you must not use, sell, lend, damage, throw away or destroy the goods. If you do, the trader has the right to demand payment.

It’s illegal for the seller to demand payment or to threaten legal action unless they have reason to believe that you have breached the law e.g. by damaging the goods. However, you are not liable for any loss or damage to those goods unless you lost or damaged them intentionally.

From 17 June 2014 you aren’t obliged to pay for unsolicited services either (e.g. someone cleaning your car without your permission and expecting payment from you) – however this does not include the supply of reticulated gas or electricity (i.e. through a gas or electricity network).

If you and the trader disagree over whether you should pay for the goods, you can take a claim to the Disputes Tribunal. You can also make a complaint to the Commerce Commission, if you believe the trader breached their obligations e.g. by not providing you with the required information along with the unsolicited goods.

For more information, visit the Commerce Commission website or contact your local CAB .

Somebody ordered some goods on my behalf, but I didn’t give them permission to. What are my rights?

If you want to keep the goods then of course you should pay for them. Otherwise, you don’t have to pay – but it would be a good idea to write to the sender to explain what has happened, and to arrange for the unwanted goods to be collected (see the previous question for what your options are if you receive unsolicited goods).