‘Unsolicited supplies’ are goods or services supplied to someone who hasn’t agreed to purchase or receive them.
This page has information on:
Your consumer rights
Businesses may provide goods or services to consumers as a way of exposing their brand to a new market. This could include:
- free product samples sent in the mail
- door-knocking households and offering to deliver a service as part of a free product demonstration.
It is illegal for a business to demand payment for goods or services you did not order or to bill you for an advertisement you never authorised.
However it is important you are aware of the conditions associated with their use and return.
Loss or damage resulting from the supply of unsolicited goods and services
You are not liable for any loss or damage resulting from the supply of unsolicited goods or services. However, you may be liable for compensation if you wilfully and unlawfully damage the unsolicited goods.
See an example
A consumer arranges for a mechanic to replace the muffler on her car. When she returns to collect the car, the mechanic says the tyres and brake pads also needed replacing, so he made the replacements and added an extra $1,200 to the bill.
The work done in addition to replacing the muffler would be considered unsolicited and the consumer is not liable to make any payment for this. If the repairer had phoned the consumer for authorisation to replace the tyres and brake pads and the consumer agreed, then those components wouldn’t be unsolicited.
Unsolicited credit or debit cards
It is illegal for businesses to send unsolicited debit cards or credit cards, including store-branded credit cards and store account cards, unless:
- the person has requested the card in writing, or
- the card is a replacement, renewal or substitution for a previous card and used for the same purpose.
Under Australian Consumer Law, an item is considered to be a credit card if it is intended to be used to obtain cash, goods or services on credit. 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.
Invoices for unsolicited goods and services
Businesses cannot issue an invoice for unsolicited goods or services unless the invoice contains the required warning statement:
“This is not a bill. You are not required to pay any money.”
This warning statement must be the most prominent text on the document.
In the event of a dispute, the business would need to prove it has a legitimate right to demand the payment.
Returning unsolicited goods
Businesses that provide unsolicited goods and services to consumers can recover those goods/services up to three months from the day after the goods/services were received. This is known as the ‘recovery period’.
If you contact the business in writing and advise that you do not want the unsolicited goods/services, the recovery period is reduced to one month.
During this time, you cannot unreasonably refuse to allow the supplier to recover the products from you, and if you damage the goods during this period, you may be liable to pay compensation.
If the unsolicited goods have not been collected in the recovery period, you can keep the goods without any obligation to pay.
Note: You are not entitled to keep products if they were not intended for you, for example, the packaging was clearly addressed to another person.
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Who enforces Australian Consumer Law?
The following agencies enforce provisions relating to consumer goods and services:
- Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
- NSW Fair Trading, and
- other State and Territory consumer protection agencies.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is responsible for financial products and services.