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You’ve received goods or services you didn’t ask for

A distance sale is when you buy something without face-to-face contact. For example shopping by internet, television, mail order, phone and fax. When you shop by distance sale you have certain legal rights covering what you can do if you receive goods or services that you have not ordered or requested. These are known as unsolicited goods and services.

This page tells you what you can do if you received unsolicited goods.

Top tips

If you’re a business

As a business you may be sent goods you haven't ordered or given services you didn't ask for. These are called 'unsolicited' goods or services. If you run a business it's a criminal offence under the Unsolicited Goods and Services Act 1971 for anyone to ask you to pay for unsolicited goods or for an unsolicited entry in a trade directory. If this happens to you could report it to Trading Standards through Citizens Advice. You do not have to contact the person who sent you the goods, but it may be reasonable to do this as they may have been sent to you by mistake. To cover your back, it is wise to keep the goods for a reasonable length of time, about six months, in good condition before getting rid of them. You can’t sell them.

Report a problem to trading standards.

You can keep the goods

The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations say you have a right to keep goods delivered to you that you didn’t ask for. These are known as unsolicited goods. But if goods are sent to you by mistake, you need to contact whoever sent them to let them know and ask them to collect the goods. You might get goods sent by mistake if they are meant for someone else or you’ve been sent duplicate or extra items on top of what you ordered.

If you receive goods you have not ordered and which haven’t been sent by mistake, you can treat the goods as an unconditional gift and you can do what you want with them.

Do you have to return unsolicited goods?

You have no obligation to return unsolicited goods to the trader or allow the trader to collect the goods. However, it would be reasonable for you to contact the trader to explain what has happened and give them a chance to collect the goods from you.

If you receive a demand for payment

If you receive a demand for payment for unsolicited goods or services, you can ignore it. If the trader does this, they may have committed a criminal offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. You should report the matter to your trading standards department through Citizens Advice.

Substitute goods

Substitute goods are not unsolicited goods. For example, where you're sent something else because what you ordered is out of stock.

Substitute goods must be agreed between you and the trader. The trader cannot send you a substitute item unless you have agreed.

Next steps

Citizens Advice

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