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  #1  
Old 12-07-2000, 07:12 AM
zut zut is offline
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I have heard that if I receive an unsolicited item through the US mail (for example, a company sends me a book I didn't order), then I can keep the merchandise without recompensing the sender. Is this true?

If so, what are the limitations? Does it apply to only US mail, or also UPS of Fed Ex? Does it apply to companies I have had dealings with before? What if the unsolicited item is part of a legitimate order, but in a different package? How about in the same package?

Note that my example is hypothetical. I've never, so far, kept (or even received) anything of value that was unsolicited. I have, however, received unsolicited magazine subscriptions, and written back to the sender noting that the magazines were unsolicited, and I would simply keep any further issues without paying. Am I on shaky ground?
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  #2  
Old 12-07-2000, 07:27 AM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
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Anything sent to you unconditionally, and intended to be sent to you, that you did not request you can keep. Sometimes items are sent for your approval first, but there has to be a prior agreement that that would be the case. Book clubs send books if you don't say you don't want them within a certain amount of times, but you agreed to that arrangement.

In other words, if you get something out of the blue and the sender asks money for it, you can tell them to hump it, and keep it.
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Old 12-07-2000, 07:37 AM
waterj2 waterj2 is offline
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I remember a while ago some company decided to send my fraternity a box of urinal hangers (no idea what they are, we never opened the box). When we contacted them, they said it was too late to avoid being billed. Eventually we got them to accept them back and not bill us for them. They tried to claim they were damaged in the mail on the way back. I think we basically told them "tough shit". I'm guessing this was some sort of scam, right? And could someone point me to the relevant law, because it seems people always want to fuck us over.
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  #4  
Old 12-07-2000, 07:49 AM
JeffB JeffB is offline
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If something comes through the U.S. mail unsolicited by itself, you could probably keep it, mainly because it would be difficult to prove you actually received it. If it was sent to you by mistake and they could prove you received it (say, with a FedEx signature), you would probably need to return it (at their expense).

Quote:
What if the unsolicited item is part of a legitimate order, but in a different package? How about in the same package?
I think in both cases, you could reasonably be expected to return the item. IANAL, so I'm just guessing on this stuff based on what I think is reasonable.

Quote:
In other words, if you get something out of the blue and the sender asks money for it, you can tell them to hump it, and keep it.
As long as it's none some item that by using it you agree to some sort of payments/purchase. I hate those fake "checks" that companies send where if you cash them you've bought their services.
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  #5  
Old 12-07-2000, 08:00 AM
RainbowDragon RainbowDragon is offline
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United Postal Service Publication 300a gives the following advice regarding Unsolicited Merchandise

"A company sends you a gift in the mail - a tie, a good luck charm, or a key chain. You didn't order it. What do you do? If you're the kind of person they are looking for, you'll feel guilty and pay for it. But you don't have to. What you do with the merchandise is entirely up to you.

-If you have not opened the package, mark it "Retuirn to Sender". The Postal Sercvice will send it back at no charge to you.
-If you open the package and don't like what you find, throw it away.
-If you open the package and like what you find, keep it - FREE. This is a rare instance where "finders, keepers" applies unconditionally.

Whatever you do, don't pay for it - and don't gent conned if the sender follows up with a phone call or visit. By law, unsolicited merchandise is yours to keep."

Here is a link that lists the publication:
http://new.usps.com/cgi-bin/uspsbv/s...B=Info&C=-9762
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  #6  
Old 12-07-2000, 10:22 AM
handy handy is offline
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Next time I find a few hundred thousand bucks in the park, I can just mail it to myself with a fake name & keep it. spiffy.
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  #7  
Old 12-07-2000, 11:33 AM
bizerta bizerta is offline
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If there were a way for someone to send unsolicited merchandise to you and then legally bill you for it, you would receive no less than 100 of these per day.

On a related note: I was in an airport and a woman walked up to me and handed me a book. I took the book and started to walk away. I had assumed it was free and was taking it to be polite. She then told me that the book cost $4.95. I gave it back to her. I later wondered if I was obligated to do so. She had, after all, handed me the book.

In another instance, a man handed me a note that said, "I am poor. I do not speak English. Please help my family and give me a dollar". I was annoyed. Am I obligated to return his note?
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  #8  
Old 12-07-2000, 02:54 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by handy

Next time I find a few hundred thousand bucks in the park, I can just mail it to myself with a fake name & keep it. spiffy.
I think if you find any money in a park, you can just keep it, provided there's no identification showing who owned it. A park is a public place and the finder has better rights than any one else except the true owner. If you know whose it was, the act you contemplate, of course, is a fraud.
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  #9  
Old 12-07-2000, 03:04 PM
RainbowDragon RainbowDragon is offline
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In response to bizerta:

First of all, do you accept anything someone hands you?
I usually ignore people who try to hand me something, especially when they don’t speak first.

You said it yourself that you “assumed” the book was free. She did not give it to you as a gift. Therefore you have no justification for keeping the book.
Now if she said “please accept this gift”, asked you for a donation, and you declined you can still keep the book because it was presented it as a gift.
If you decided to be an SOB and keep the book, she would more than likely hound you until you gave the book back. If you took the book from her, give it back and get rid of her.

As for the man with the begging note: Again you don’t have any belief that the piece of paper is a gift. It is his property, which he extended to you and you accepted. Some other communication would be necessary to certify the transaction as a gift. So give the poor guy his note back and don’t take notes from strangers. You might get a note that says “I have a gun, if you don’t give me the money in your wallet right now, I’ll shoot you. If you call out, I’ll shoot you”.

In order for you to accept someone else’s property some form of communication is necessary. You may be in a store and someone asks, “Would you like to try a free sample.” Or a parent might give a wrapped gift to you on Christmas. These are example of the property being conveyed to another person without consideration (money or trade) on the part of the receiver.
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