I have been sent some goods that I did not order. Do I have to pay for them?
If a business supplies you with goods that you didn’t agree to pay for then you don’t have to pay for them, and it is illegal for the business to demand payment for those goods.
When 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.
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 business 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.
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 business disagree over whether you should pay for the goods, they can take a claim to the Disputes Tribunal.
If you believe the trader breached their obligations e.g. by not providing you with the required information along with the unsolicited goods, you can report this to the Commerce Commission. The Commerce Commission can’t act for you but they can investigate businesses that are breaking the law.
For more information, visit the Conmmerce Commission website or contact your local CAB.
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Can I keep the unsolicited goods?
If a business supplied you with goods that you didn't ask for, you can keep the goods without paying for them if:
- the business didn’t give you information about your rights at the time that they supplied the goods to you
- you made the goods available for collection by the business, and they didn't retrieve them within the ten working day period.
You can’t keep the goods if you know they weren’t intended for you (for example a package addressed to someone else), nor can you keep them if you have not given the business a chance to retrieve them within the 10 working day period.