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Received a product you did not order? Your rights...

As consumers we may find ourselves in situations in which we receive goods or are supplied with services we neither requested nor ordered. We may for instance receive a product in the post which we did not order or services such as extra work done on our car during a normal service that we did not specifically request.

After being provided with such items or services we are usually requested to pay for them. This kind of selling is called inertia selling and when we end up victims of this kind of selling we should be aware that we have specific rights.

Firstly, we should keep in mind that when we are supplied with unsolicited goods or services, we have no legal obligation to pay for thm. We are also exempted from the responsibility of returning the unsolicited goods back to the trader. The Consumer Rights Regulations specifically state that if we do not communicate with the supplier reporting the receipt of unsolicited goods, the absence of such response does not constitute consent.

Having said that, if, however, we are certain that the goods we received were sent to us by mistake, such as for instance due to a wrong address or a mistaken identity, even though we are not legally obliged to, it would be the decent thing to do to contact the seller and offer him the possibility to collect back the goods.

When we are supplied with unsolicited goods, we have no legal obligation to pay for them

It is important that any communication with the seller is made in writing so that we have proof should we decide to dispose of or start using the unsolicited products. Should the seller ask us to return the goods to him, we must remember that there should be no cost or inconvenience to us. Hence, if the seller wants the goods back, he must make all the necessary postal arrangements.

In case of a dispute with a local seller over unsolicited goods or services, consumers may lodge a complaint with the Office for Consumer Affairs within the MCCAA. Cross-border disputes with Europe-based sellers may be reported to the European Consumer Centre Malta.

Odette Vella is director, Information, Education and Research Directorate, Office for Consumer Affairs, Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority.

[email protected]

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