Unordered Merchandise

Idaho consumers report receiving goods or services that they did not order.  The most common experience of consumers is for the consumer to receive an item unordered and thereafter have the sender send an invoice for the goods sent to the consumer.  This sort of sales practice, unlawful under Idaho law, has raised lots of questions for Idahoans.

Do I have to pay for this?

No. If you are sent merchandise you did not order you have the right to keep the shipment as a free gift.

If I keep the unordered merchandise do I have to notify the seller?

You are not obligated to send a letter to the seller but it is an advisable precaution. Your letter may discourage the seller from billing you in the future and may help to clear up an honest mistake. If you do not notify the seller you run the risk of being turned in to collections and possibly having it recorded on your credit record.

What if they bill me?

If you receive billing notices, write to the business. State that you never ordered the item and, therefore, you have a legal right to keep the merchandise as a free gift. Request that they do not send you any more billings. It is a good idea to send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested. Be sure to keep copies of the receipt and letter for your records.

What if it was a shipping error?

If you think the unordered merchandise you received was the result of an honest shipping error, you may want to offer to return the merchandise at the seller's expense. Write to the seller and express that you will return the merchandise within a specific time (30 days is appropriate) if they send a "call tag" or other form of prepaid postage. Inform the seller that after the specified time period has passed, you reserve the right to keep the merchandise or dispose of it as you wish.

Is there any unordered merchandise that may be sent legally?

Sending a bill for unordered goods or services violates Idaho Consumer Protection Rules. However, free samples and merchandise mailed by charitable organizations asking for contributions may be sent legally without an order from you so long as you are not billed for the products. You may keep such shipments as free gifts.

What if they keep billing me?

If you are billed for unordered merchandise and cannot resolve your dispute with the business, you may click here to file a complaint with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division.