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What To Do When You Receive Merchandise You Did Not Order?

Do you sometimes experience getting items delivered, but don’t recall ordering them? What do you do when this happens?

If you live in the United States and you receive items you did not order, or if it is in excess, you have the legal right to keep the item as a gift. There is no legal obligation, for you to notify the seller or return the item to them.

What Are Your Rights?

When you shop by mail, online or even order through the phone in the United States, there are federal laws that govern and protect consumers. This rule is called The Federal Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule. According to this law;

  1. Sellers have to ship your order within the time indicated on their ads or policies. If no timeframe is given, they must ship within 30 days upon the placement of your order.
  2. If there is a delay in shipment, for whatever reason, the seller must notify you. They should then offer the choice of waiting for your order, or cancelling it with a full refund.
  3. If the seller fails to ship your order, they have to issue a full refund. And not just provide a gift card or store credit for your cancelled order.
  4. If you and the seller agree on a new shipping date the seller must provide you with your items by that time. If not, they need to issue a full refund. If you don’t respond to the seller about the new shipping date, the seller must assume that you are not willing to wait. Then a full refund must be issued promptly.
  5. If you have paid the seller in cash, check or credit card, they must credit the full amount to your account within one billing cycle upon cancelling the order.

    (Source: Federal Trade Commission)

What To Do When the Seller Demands Payment for Items that You Did Not Order?

By law, sellers are not allowed to send unordered items to you and demand a payment. This basically means, you do not have to pay for any thing you didn’t order. You do not have to return anything you didn’t order or even notify the seller. You are entitled to keep the item as a free gift.

You may sign up for a free trial but the company ends up sending you packages every month and bills you for them. This might be part of the free-trial scam. You can learn more about this here. (Source: Federal Trade Commission)

How Do I Avoid Shopping Problems Like This?

Most seller-buyer issue can be avoided with the right amount of research. Here are some tips you can use.

  1. Be sure to order items from reputable companies or sellers. You can do this with a simple Google search.
  2. Check the company’s refund and return policies.
  3. Check for you item’s availability and total cost before placing your order.
  4. Take note of your shipment date.
  5. Keep track of all your orders.

    (Source: Federal Trade Commission)

Who Can I File Complaints With?

If you are having a problem with your purchases, especially when it involves billing disputes. You must contact your bank immediately. You may also try to resolve your issue with the seller. If you have exhausted all options, you can contact the the Federal Trade Commission and file a report. (Source: Federal Trade Commission)

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