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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71046
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Approximately 3 weeks ago, out of the blue I received a parcel

Customer Question

Approximately 3 weeks ago, out of the blue I received a parcel through the post from Vodafone. It contained an 'Apple' ipad and sim card, neither of which had been requested. I immediately contacted Vodafone and informed them of the delivery and they admitted they had no idea why they had been sent, was I sure I hadn't asked for them. Eventually, after about 3/4hr on the phone, they said they would send me a returns package which I am still waiting for. As yet I have not received an invoice for the goods, what shall I do? Under the "Unsolicited Goods" act do I just hold onto the items, unopened, until I hear further from them? Yours faithfully Mr B Gumbley.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question . My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

Do you have contracts with either firm?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question . My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

How long have you been in possession of the item?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

FOR JOMO1972 Thank you Jo for replying to my question. Yes I do have a contract with Vodafone, it is for my mobile phone, I have been with them for approximately 9 years, around 2 years ago I dropped from a full contract to a sim card only as my needs were for just basic phone use and texting. I have been in receipt of the goods for 3 weeks. Yours Bryan.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Are they charging you for this on your itemised bill?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

For JOMO1972 As yet I have had no billing for these items.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

There is an argument that these are unsolicited goods but I'm afraid my view would be that they are not.

At least, obviously you did not request them. To that extent they are unsolicited. However, you will find the legislation here

and it requires under S24[1][a] that the goods were sent out with the view to a person acquiring them. Clearly that did not apply here.

It makes sense really when one things about it. This is a piece of legislation designed to create risks for that those who bombard consumers with gifts of this kind. It does not generally seek to punish a mistaken despatch.

In any event, all that would mean is that you cannot treat them as an unconditional gift.

Under the general law, in a nutshell, you have to look after them for a reasonable period of time. Its for them to send out the means of sending this back cost free. There's no basis to argue that you should pay for their mistake.

If they do not do so then the question of whether they have been abandoned must be considered. These are high value items that are quite compact and so the court would expect you to keep them for a fair period of time and make fairly vigorous efforts to restore them to their owner. It would be different if it were something enormous that literally blocked up your front door. Similarly if it were something low value you could throw that away very quickly.

There isn't a very good definition of 'abandonment' in law basically because its always a test of reasonableness on the facts of the case for the court. However, given the value of the items and the fact they are compact, I wouldn't suggest disposing of them for at least six months and until you have made many calls to the company attempting to reunite them. Then you would be protected.

Sorry if thats bad news.