I’ve been sent stuff I never ordered!

The Distance Selling Regulations are very clear on this. If you’ve been sent unsolicited goods, you are entitled to treat them as an unconditional gift and do with them as you choose. You are not required to keep them for any amount of time and you are certainly not required to pay for them. Any attempt to demand payment (by threatening means or otherwise) is unlawful.

Mail order and distance selling

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27 comments… add one

  • artist 18 April, 4:47 pm


    I bought something via eBay, and the seller sent me the wrong item. He is refusing to refund or send the correct item until I pay to post back the ‘wrong’ item that he sent. Paypal and eBay have ruled in my favour in terms of me being entitled to a refund but even so they have also stated I won’t get that refund until I pay and post back the incorrect item. Making me do this is against distance selling regulations but Paypal says they don’t comply with them as they have thier own rules which I agreed to when I joined paypal.

    Meanwhile on the sellers site he says he complies with the cselling regulations and so these were the terms of business I agreed to when I made the purchase.

    Is Paypal allowed to bypass distance selling regulations like this?

    • Red Cardinal 4 November, 12:05 am

      No, Paypal and the seller are not correct. You have statutory rights (Sale of Goods Act and the Distance Selling Regulations) and “agreeing” to their terms and conditions doesn’t override your legal rights under these two pieces of legislation. Claiming that it does may well be an offence in itself. I’d suggest contacting your local Trading Standards Office for advice.

  • jamjam173 13 May, 2:26 pm

    if i ordered an item online, and was supplied a different model to that ordered, and i gave them notice of rejection and informed seller that wrong item would not be returned or paid for, and they then sent the correct item to order, but charged for both, of which i then paid for the correct item to order and made this clear when paying. can the wrong item be classed as unsoliceted and so cannot be pursued for payment?

  • gandi 13 November, 10:06 am

    I ordered an item off of amazon and it didn’t arrive when promised. I assumed it had been stolen at the post office or lost. I waited a few days before contacting them and then i cancelled the order. I recieved a full re-fund and i thought it was all dealt with. The next day i then recieve the delivery which i had originally ordered but had since cancelled. Am i under legal obligation to return the item? And if i am, is it ME that needs to inform them that this mistake has happened OR can i wait until they contact me asking for it (i have no problem sending it back if they ask). Also, will i need to pay for the return?

    • Red Cardinal 16 January, 11:21 pm

      I imagine that your original item was delayed in the post. The short answer to your query is yes, you should contact the supplier and arrange the return of the item. If you don’t return then item you’re potentially leaving yourself open to accusations of criminal fraud as you will have received the item and also a refund for non-delivery.

      • Anoreta 8 May, 11:06 pm

        My situation is similar to gandi’s.

        Order Placed with Amazon – 13 Dec 2010 for next day am delivery.
        Not Delivered on 14 Dec 2010
        Charged for item on 14 Dec 2010
        Goods Dispatched on 16 Dec 2010
        Goods Not Delivered by 23 Dec 2010
        Full Refund given on 23 Dec 2010
        Goods returned to sender 23 Dec 2010 – As per City Link Tracking
        Goods Delivered to me on 31 Dec 2010.
        During January I tried to contact Amazon by email to return goods without success.
        On 7 March 2010 Amazon emailed me and asked me if I still wanted goods and to reply to this email if I wanted to return them
        7 March 2010 I replied saying yes please collect.
        To date heard no more.

  • jane 13 May, 11:53 am

    I ordered 2 items recently online and ended up recieving one of the items plus some items i did not order. I contacted the seller to tell them and they said, send the unordered items back and we will send you the remaining item. I have not done this yet. Am I obliged by law to send these items back as I have not paid for them? Or can they be accepted as a ‘unconditional gift’? The value of the unwanted items rather outweighs the cost of the item I didn’t recieve.

  • V O'Connor 6 June, 6:51 pm

    Hi, I purchased a bugaboo custom hood from an eBay seller. When the hood arrived it was of very poor quality and I left negative feedback for the seller. The seller wasn’t happy and offered me a refund which I accepted. I waited for the seller to arrange for collection, this didn’t happen so I returned the goods by recorded delivery royal mail. I waited two weeks and still haven’t received my refund. eBay and paypal won’t open a resolution as it was over their 45 day policy (it was 49 days). They have only said I can contact the police or their legal department. I thought that as the goods were faulty then I should be entitled to a refund despite the time frame. Where do I stand please?

  • Terrie 11 June, 12:44 pm

    I have had a pendant and a pair of earrings delivered to my address from compton & woodhouse. I signed for the packages as i did not know what they were. I dont know if someone has maliciously ordered these items or if it is a scam. Have i the right to demand that the company that supplied them has to arrange to pick them up. I certainly don’t want to pay to send them back. They were delivered on 11 june 2011. on the invoice it it says statement date 09 june 2011 and payment due by 09 june 2011. It also says that if i fail to make a payment and they or someone acting for us have to remind you they reserve the right to make a administrative charge of £12. What are my rights i dont want any debt collectors turning up on my doorstep. thanks

    • Red Cardinal 13 June, 11:16 pm

      You have the right to return the items.

      Contact the company and explain you didn’t order the items and wish to return them. Even if you had ordered the items, under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 you have a cooling off period of seven days where you can cancel your order within that period and return them to the supplier.

      If they refuse to take the items back once you’ve contacted them, contact your Trading Standards Office and report them. (Tell the company you are doing this.)

  • Lee 6 October, 1:31 pm

    If i order something from an online site, that say non -returnable, does this affect my distance selling rights. So under my rights would i be able to return the item even though, they are saying its non refundable


  • Red Cardinal 7 October, 8:46 am


    I’m presuming that this is a UK site? Whatever terms or conditions the compnay has stated, these cannot overide your statutory rights.

    If you’re in doubt, contact the company before buying, point this out to them and get their confirmation. Any problems, go to your Trading Standards Office.

    Important to note that the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 don’t apply to all types of merchandise. There are a few items it doesn’t cover (e.g. jewellery).

  • Alishea 26 October, 10:16 am

    A few weeks ago a parcel was delivered to my address whilst I was at work, so my neighbours took it in (I don’t know if they had to sign for it or not). It had my address but not my name, I opened the parcel to find out where it had come from. I spoke to their fraud team to make sure no one was using my address fraudualantly and arranged for the parcel to be picked up, as I refused to waste my time going to the post office or one of their distribution centres as it was their fault that the parcel was sent to the wrong address. Nobody came on the day that had been arranged (Friday). I got home on Monday to see a card pushed through to say that they had been and to rearrange collection. Knowing that I wasn’t going to be in I left it for a couple of weeks until in I knew when I was next going to be in and arranged a new collection date. That was this Monday and nobody has been. Do i have to keep arranging times or can I just leave up to them to contact me? I don’t want them sending me any bills for these as I have never even had an account with them.

  • Poppy 21 December, 8:33 pm

    24 Nov ordered 2 Ipods from Dixons and due to a promotional offer on their site not working I rang and cancelled order 20 minutes later.

    Order cancelled and CC refunded.

    I placed order for 2 different Ipods next day.

    A few days later the two ipods from cancelled order arrived so I rang them and they were unaware they had been despatched so arranged collection. Goods collected 30 Nov. 5th December they were sent back to me. Again rang and they arranged to collect but didn’t turn up so I emailed them and they arranged to collect again today, but no one has turned up.

    Do I have to contact them again to arrange collection or can I now keep the goods and dispose of as I wish?

  • Blueblox 19 January, 3:46 pm

    Hi All.
    I ordered an item worth about £200 from a European company, and was instead sent an item worth considerably more.
    I’ve emailed the company and informed them (twice in fact).
    I’ve also noticed that the stock/barcode sticker on the box they just sent me states that it is the item worth £200 and not the more expensive item, so I can only imagine the mistake was made by someone in the factory.
    What are my legal rights here?

  • Pamela Mo 9 April, 11:49 am

    Hi there I purchased 2 bottles of 500mls of sunscreen and have receipt and dispatch notification to confirm same although 2x125mls sunscreen arrived company unwilling to honour 2x500ml bottles and have advised to return for a refund. Are these bottles classed as unsolicited gifts? Or do they have to honour the pj base if 500s x2.

  • Joseph Saverimoutou 2 November, 6:12 pm

    I bought an ecig pack, this was on offer for £4.99. I have now been told that at the same time I signed for a monthly refill plan of £59.70, and that the money has been taken from my account. Apparently this refill plan is automatically added to your shopping basket and you have to delete it or cancel it later. There is no mention of me requesting such a plan on my account from the said company, there is no mention of the plan on the confirmation order email. Consequently in the event that I did make a mistake there was no way I could have cancelled the refill plan.

  • Lucy Taylor 4 December, 1:52 pm

    My Husband ordered a high value item from group on…well the order didn’t ever go through, so I should say he attempted to place an order, the item is £1500 in value. It states on the account the order was cancelled and never successfully placed.
    The item was however delivered, can this be classed as unsolicited item? As it was never successfully ordered?

  • Stevie 22 March, 2:09 pm

    I ordered a chainsaw from woolworths and when it arrived it was used. I returned it straight away to be told “you have returned an item we did not supply” and that I am to pay for this.What are my rights? Thanks in advance

  • Bhavana 24 May, 9:31 am


    I ordered a Pay as You Go Phone from dialapahone and they requested proof of work address and all. I have received the wrong item from them yesterday (a phone on Pay Monthly), which is of higher value than the item I ordered from them.

    I am totally frustrated as they created a lot of inconvenience with cancelling my order the first time without informing me because they could not verify my address, then for asking for proof of work address, to then send me the wrong item with someone else’s personal details such as address, bank account number (!), and log-in details for that person’s online account with them etc. I find this totally unacceptable and pretty sure this not only breaches sales laws but also data protection rights?!

    I am pretty sure they must have passed my order and personal details to someone else, and I do not know if it is just myself and the person whose order I received or whether it’s a total mess involving 10+ orders.

    Any advice on what is the best course of action to take please?


  • Charles 22 November, 9:29 pm

    My 91 year old Mother with onset dementia received a package today from the mailman. Didn’t require a signature. I happen to be home on holiday from England at the time. The package contained one (1 lb) tin of Danish Butter Cookies. Inside was also an invoice for $58.95 to be paid. We have not opened the tin just the UPS box. I called the company (Advanced Employment Solutions, LLC (Phoenix, AZ)and told them the item price was outrageous and how could they con old people, I told them to delete her phone number from their records. They hung up on me. I went on-line and put my mother on the “do-not-call” register. Question: do we have to pay return postage to send it back?
    We are both on retired pensions. Thank you.

  • Kevin 7 December, 1:50 pm


    A wrong item was sent to me from UK online store Zavvi (I’m from the Netherlands).
    They won’t send me the item I ordered, untill I return the wrongly sent package. I have now received a letter where they claim to have tried to contact me on numurous occasions (they didn’t) and sorta threatening me to send it back or else!

    Problem is, I haven’t received the package yet! (can take up to 3 weeks, sometimes 4)
    I don’t like the threatening tone of the letter AT ALL, can I use the information at the top of this page if the item does arrive and keep it?
    What if the item doesn’t arrive at all, and was lost in transit??

  • wendy 9 October, 7:18 pm

    Hi, iv ordered clothes in June from.Freemans online mail order. I had some items arrive but not all plus I retired some. They have charged me for items I havnt recievef and for items I returned. Have sent at least 8 emails and several phone calls trying to sort this out. At one point they told me they had added ‘ lost in transit on the good then still charged me !!! . I am now paying monthly for goods I didn’t buy. They keep saying they will resolve but don’t. Will I incur bad credit if I just don’t pay ?

  • Lesley Atkinson 10 October, 10:29 am

    I ordered a 14 day trail period of slimming products online, when I ordered online all I was asked for was my name, address and card numberm, I was not asked to read terms and condidtions or asked if I agreed with terms and condition so assumed it would be just a one off payment of £3.95.
    The good arrived after a couple of days, and I never gave it another thought, untill 14 dasy later when I checked my online banking and notice that I had been debited for £95 but the same company, I had not recieved any additional products as I only signed up for the trail period.
    I rang my bank and they gave me details of the company as I had not recieved any information with the trail products and had not recieved a confirmation email from the company.
    I gave them a call and was told that when I confirmation payment for the trail goods I had signed up to to recieved more goods but as the normal price, and i was out of the 14 day cooling off period.
    I was told to return the goods once i had recieved them and I would get a refund but it would be £20 less as they would charge me for re-stocking.
    Do I have any rights to claim the full amount back as I have recieved no information from them regarding the cooling off period or that I had signed into recieving more products.
    Also the money was debited on the 30th Sept and it now the 10th Ocotber and I haven’t even recieved the goods to send back to them.
    Any help would great.

  • Sheila 22 October, 5:57 pm

    I came home and found a parcel hanging out off my letterbox. It was delivered by Yodel but it’s not for me. I e mailed them asking them to collect it, I have had no reply. What is the legal position.

  • Martin Brown 26 October, 12:25 pm

    Order a car scanner from a Ebayer in China with 768 positive feed backs, they sent the tracking number and a item arrived i ordered a £200 scanner of a particular make and model i was sent a £5 cloned / fake interface, the issue i have i have filed a wrong item received claim but i know they are going to say return it before i get a refund, but for me to return the item would be illegal as i know its a copy of course as Ebay have hardly any ways of notifying them outside the pull down menu options so how do i move forward.

  • Laura 13 November, 10:06 am

    I bought some perfume from Groupon and they have sent me the wrong perfume instead of DKNY NIGHT they sent me DKNY Red delicious not what I ordered. I have contacted them regarding this however this was the response I got and they are still advertising the item which I purchased but not received.

    Thanks for getting in touch and I’m very sorry for the trouble you’ve experienced with your Groupon Goods purchase.
    Unfortunately, we aren’t able to resend the product you originally ordered due to limited inventory. I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
    Of course, because you received an incorrect product, we are happy to accept a return of the order and issue you a full refund. If you decide that you’d prefer to keep the product instead, you’re more than welcome to do so.
    If you wish to proceed with a return and refund, please let me know. Please note that all refunds are issued after the product has been returned and processed, which may take up to 14 days.
    My sincerest apologies again for the error and I look forward to hearing from you. If there’s anything else I can do for you in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
    Kind regards,
    Ramya Jeganathan