01 December 2016

If a retailer sends you too much stuff...

... you don't have to return it.
To put it simply: you can keep it. According to the Federal Trade Commission, you have a legal right to keep unordered merchandise and consider it a free gift. That’s because federal law prohibits mailing unordered merchandise to consumers and then demanding payment...

In general, though you’re not legally obligated to tell the seller, if your conscience is pushing you in that direction, the FTC suggests that you notify the seller and offer to return the merchandise, so long as the seller is the one who will pay for all of the return shipping.


  1. I remember PSAs on TV in the 1970s about this. They showed an eskimo getting an electric fan (that he didn't order). I never understood why the government felt the need to tell the public about this law, but now I see the fraud angle.

  2. Your term 'free gift' is redundant. All gifts are free or they wouldn't be a gift.

  3. I had that happen to me a few years ago. Ordered one single random packed vinyl figure, got a retail box with 12 of them. Thanks!

  4. I purchased a necklace from an Etsy crafter and she inadvertently send my two separate packages. I notified her and she told me that I could keep it, but since this was an art teacher supplementing her income, I sent it back and she credited me an amount that more than covered the cost of shipping.

    I also got two warranty replacement floor steamers, instead of one. I contacted the company, they told me to keep it, and I did in that situation.

    1. I should proofread before posting. It should read "inadvertently sent me". Argh.

  5. "If your conscience is pushing you in that direction"... If your conscience is not pushing you in that direction frankly you have a bad set of morals. You should always give the other party in a transaction the opportunity to correct mistakes.
    This is a perfect example where laws and good morals do not run parallel.

  6. This happened to me this year with a well known leading brand with a red bullseye in their logo...ordered a kitchen aid mixer, a few days after it arrived a second identical one showed up. Double checked our account and sure enough, we only ordered one so called to let them know and had the hardest time explaining to them what happened as they had no record of the second one shipping...so they couldn't do anything but accept a return on the original...which made no sense. So went out of my way to go to my nearest retail store to explain in person and they said the same thing...so I "returned" it and they gave me full refund. I felt terrible but had tried to do the right thing, but ultimately was "gifted" a $200 mixer I tried to pay for...makes me wonder how often this happens.


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