Unsolicited supplies occur when goods or services are supplied to you when you have not agreed to purchase or receive them.
It is important to note that you are not required to pay for goods or services you have not ordered.
Businesses often provide goods or services to consumers as a way of exposing consumers to the brand, product or service. Examples of this are free product samples sent in the mail, or door knocking households and offering to clean their windows as part of a free product demonstration. In these cases there is no expectation that the consumer will have to pay for the goods or services.
However, it is an offence for businesses to demand payment from you for unsolicited goods or services.
For example, a business must not send you books or DVDs that you have not requested and then demand payment for them.
If a business invoices you for unsolicited goods or services supplied then the invoice must clearly state the following warning: "This is not a bill. You are not required to pay any money". This warning must be the most prominent text in the document.
If you receive unsolicited goods or services:
For example, Michelle arranges for a car repairer to replace the muffler on her car. When Michelle returns to collect the car the repairer says the tyres and brake pads also needed replacing, so he made the replacements and added an extra $1200 to the bill. The work done in addition to replacing the muffler would be considered unsolicited and Michelle is not liable to make any payment for this. If the repairer had phoned Michelle for authorisation to replace the tyres and brake pads and she agreed, then these components would not have been unsolicited.
For example, John hires a tradesperson to replace rotting timber beams supporting a pergola. The tradesperson also notices John’s shed door has wood-rot so he replaces the door and adds an extra $250 to the invoice. John is angry as he planned to demolish the shed anyway. Replacing the shed door was outside the scope of the original agreement and is therefore unsolicited, and John is not liable to make any payment for this.
For example, Peter takes his laptop to a repairer only to have the hard drive replaced. When Peter returns to repair shop the repairer explains that he also repaired the CD drive and added extra memory capacity because he said the computer would work better and faster with the extra memory. He added $150 to the repair bill for this extra work. The work in addition to replacing the hard drive is unsolicited.
A business must not send you an unsolicited debit card or credit card (including store-branded credit cards and store account cards) unless:
An item is considered to be a credit card if it is intended to be used to obtain cash, goods or services on credit (e.g. store-branded credit cards and store account cards).
An item is considered to be a debit card if it is intended to be used to access an account held by the consumer for the purpose of withdrawing or depositing cash or obtaining goods or services.
If you have a credit card, a business must not enable the card to also be used as a debit card, or vice-versa, unless you specifically request this in writing.
More information about unsolicited credit and debit cards is available from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission at www.asic.gov.au
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