Uncollected goods

What are uncollected goods?

Uncollected goods are items that are left for repair or other treatment and are either left with or without payment. When goods have not been collected for a period to time, the business should follow the Uncollected Goods Act 1995 to dispose of the goods and to cover any costs involved in repairing and storing the goods.

Disposal procedures and notification

How a trader can dispose of uncollected goods depends on their value.

Value of goods

Manner of disposal

Less than $100

The business must give a verbal or written notice to the customer that they intend to dispose of the goods. If the goods are still not collected after 28 days of that notice, they may be disposed of in any such manner as the trader considers appropriate.

Between $100 and $500

The business must give written notice to the consumer and each other person claiming an interest in the goods, that they intend to dispose of the goods.

If the goods are still not collected after three  months of that notice, they may be disposed of by public auction or by private sale for a fair value.

Between $500 and $5000

The business  can only dispose of the goods by public auction and only if:

  • written notice has been given to the consumer and each other person claiming an interest in the goods of the intention to dispose of the goods;  and
  • the goods are still not collected after 6 months of that notice;  and
  • a copy of that notice is published, at least 28 days before the goods are disposed of, in a daily newspaper circulating throughout NSW.

Over $5000

Goods worth more than $5000 can only be disposed of with a court order.

What information must a notice contain?

Any notice regarding uncollected goods must include:

  • the business name
  • a description of the goods
  • an address where the goods can be collected
  • a statement of any relevant charges (eg freight and storage costs) and if the business is planning to take money out of the sale to cover those charges
  • a statement that on or after a specified date, the goods will be sold or kept unless they are first collected and the relevant charges are paid.

These charges should be agreed to by the business and the customer in the warranty or repair agreement, but should not include any profit.  In other words, the charges should only reflect the actual cost to the trader for storing, maintaining or insuring the goods. Any money made above those costs should go to the Chief Commissioner of Revenue NSW. Contact Revenue NSW on (02) 9689 6200 or 1300 366 016 (outside Sydney metropolitan area) for more information.

Note: There is specific legislation relating to the disposal of goods held by a pawnbroker (Pawnbrokers and Second-Hand Dealers Act 1996, Part4, Section30), goods left by a tenant (Residential Tenancies Act 1987, Division 5) or resident of a retirement village (Retirement Villages Act 1999, Division 7, section 146-148).

Motor vehicle disposal

A business can’t dispose of an uncollected motor vehicle unless the Commissioner of Police has given them a certificate stating that the vehicle is not recorded as stolen. After this certificate has been issued, follow the above guidelines.

Dealing with disputes

Local Courts administer the laws relating to uncollected goods and should be contacted for more information if there is a dispute.

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