Unsolicited Goods

Unsolicited goods are anything sent to you that you did not order. In practice, of course, the Act will only affect goods the sender wants you to buy.
The Unsolicited Goods Act affects anyone sending unsolicited goods and anyone receiving them. There are no exceptions.

If you want the goods, pay for them and keep them.
If you do not want the goods, you have three options:

  • You can write to the sender and ask for the goods to be collected. The sender then has 30 days to collect the goods. After 30 days the goods are yours.

  • Do nothing. If the goods are not collected after 3 months and 4 days then they are yours to keep.

  • Send the goods back, though the Act does not require you to because it is not your responsibility to send the goods back. You do not have to pay for them.

Taking special care of the goods
While you wait for the goods to be collected, you MUST NOT:

  • use the goods
  • throw them away
  • break them
  • give them away
  • stop the sender collecting the goods.

Collection of goods
When the sender contacts you to arrange collection of the goods, you should arrange a time and a place where the sender can pick them up. You must not refuse unreasonably to allow the goods to be collected. If you do, you might have to pay for them.

Giving notice to collect the goods
You must write to the sender and include:

  • your name and address (and where the goods can be collected from if they are not at your address)

  • a description of the goods

  • a clear statement that the goods were unsolicited, eg "I did not order these goods".

If the sender does not collect the goods in 33 days from the date you sent the letter (30 days if you delivered it by hand) the goods are yours.

Sending goods back
You do not have to agree to send unsolicited goods back. The sender should collect them. If you do agree to send the goods back, and then change your mind, you can be asked to pay for them.

Sender demands payment
If payment is demanded without good reason, the sender is breaking the law and could be fined up to $500 (or up to $1,000 if a company).

The sender cannot threaten you with legal action, or with any other action, such as putting the matter with a debt collecting agency, unless the sender believes he or she has a right to be paid. The sender could be fined up to $750 (up to $1,500 if a company) if you are threatened in this way.

Being asked to pay for unsolicited goods
You could be asked to pay for the goods if during the three months (or one month if you gave notice) you have:

  • agreed to buy the goods

  • agreed to return them and have not treated the goods as your own -eg, if you have used them, given them away or lent them

  • agreed to return them and thrown them away or damaged them deliberately.

Goods ordered without your permission
If you have not given permission for the goods to be ordered on your behalf, you will not have to pay for them - though of course you should not keep them either. It would be wise to write to the sender explaining what has happened.

Someone who orders goods for you without your permission can be fined up to $300 and may also have to pay for the goods.