I received merchandise I did not order. What should I do with it?

Personal Finance December 08, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

If you receive merchandise you didn’t order, federal law says you can consider it a gift. You can’t be forced to pay for the item or return it. If you decide to keep the merchandise, you may want to send the seller a letter stating your intention, even though you’re not legally obligated to do so.

Your letter may discourage the seller from sending you repeated bills, or it may clear up an error. It’s a good idea to send the letter by certified mail and keep the return receipt and a copy of the letter. These records will help you establish later, if necessary, that you didn’t order the merchandise.

Two types of merchandise may be sent legally without your consent:

  1. free samples that are clearly marked as such, and,
  2. merchandise mailed by charities asking for contributions.

In either case, you may keep the shipments.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.