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Receiving unsolicited goods

I was browsing online for cosmetics and was sent products I never ordered along with an invoice for payment. I may have entered my contact details on the retailer’s site but didn’t buy anything! What should I do?

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Inertia selling

You don’t have to pay for something you didn’t order. The company which sent the products is breaking the law if it claims you do.

Traders sending goods in the expectation you’ll buy them are using “inertia selling”.

It used to be magazines and packs of greeting cards that turned up uninvited in your mailbox. But the range of items is growing as more companies harvest consumers’ contact details online. Unwanted cosmetics are among the products causing complaint.

One online beauty retailer, Luxstyle, has been the subject of numerous complaints here and overseas. It advertises beauty products on Facebook and Instagram. Shoppers who click on the ads are taken to a website where they have to enter their name and address before prices are displayed. That’s been enough for the company to start sending goods with a demand for payment.

Your rights and what to do

If you’re sent cosmetics – or any other item – you didn’t order, you’re protected by the Fair Trading Act. Under the act:

  • The company sending the goods has 10 working days to collect them. After that, they’re yours to keep as an unconditional gift.

  • You have to make the goods available for collection by the trader at any reasonable time during the 10 working days. But you don’t have to do anything else – including contacting the company or arranging return of the goods.

It’s an offence for the trader to claim it has a right to payment for goods you never ordered. What’s more, it must clearly inform you that you’re under no obligation to pay for goods that have been sent unsolicited.

Companies failing to comply with their obligations can be fined up to $600,000. If you think a trader has breached the act, make a complaint to the Commerce Commission.

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