eBay seller sent extra item - what should you do?

I recently bid on and won an item from eBay. It arrived today. Or, I should say, they arrived today. There were two packages instead of one, each with the item that I had won.

(For the curious - it was a booster pack of the “Legends” expansion for the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering. I won one, and got two.)

I double checked PayPal, eBay, and my bank account. I am certain I have only been charged once. I think I know what happened. One package was addressed to “Bryan” (my actual first name) and the other to “Brian”. Looks like a clerical error. He or she was probably selling several of these at one time, and things got jumbled.

I’ve already sent a message to the seller about this proposing a solution, but I’m curious what other people think one’s obligations are in such a situation. Are you legally required to do anything? Should you ship it back, even if it means an extra trip to the post office and a (small) shipping fee? If you were a seller and this happened due to your own mistake what would you expect a buyer to do? What would you want them to do?

As far as I know (IANAL) if you are sent something you did not order, you’re not legally obligated to return it.

But, I’d say returning it anyway is the right thing to do. It’s not a scam or anything, as far as I can tell from your description. Someone made an honest mistake, and you have the opportunity to help them fix it. Why wouldn’t you, other than to be a jerk?

Paying for return shipping would be above and beyond, though. My guess is the seller would be grateful enough for your honesty to either pay the shipping or just tell you to keep it.
If they insist that you should send it back at your own expense, then you wouldn’t be a jerk to tell them to get bent. (Politely, of course.)

I think you might have a legal obligation to return the item (unjust enrichment), but you don’t have an obligation to pay for shipping. I heads-up to the seller and a promise to send it back at his expense would meet both your legal and moral obligation, I think.


Here is a link to the FTC’s web site about unordered merchandise.

Was it a commercial seller, or a private individual? Is a booster pack from the Legends series set particularly rare or valuable?

Reason I ask is if this is just a fairly mundane booster pack from a commercial seller that likely has dozens or hundreds of the things, I’d see no reason to bother trying to return it. If it was somehow special and from a private collector, maybe it might be worth returning, but I do not see you being under any obligation to do so.

I know it’s off topic but are you planning on opening them?

I’d offer to return it, but not at the expense of my own time, or my own money, e.g., I’d be happy to drop it in a pre-addressed, prepaid package sent to me by the seller.

They’re worth upwards of $50 right now.

Legally, you don’t have to do anything. Ethically, you should notify the seller and do what is requested to the extent that you are not overly inconvenienced by the seller’s mistake. It’s up to you.

To me, it would be like watching a person drop a wallet, not saying anything to them, and then picking it up and keeping it after they’re out of sight. I wouldn’t do it. I’d notify them and let them determine if it’s worth it to them to pay for the return. I like the idea of a prepaid envelope.

Wow. What is in them? I haven’t bought any cards in a long time, but regular boosters are what…$3.95 at Wal-Mart? These must be pretty awesome boosters…

They’re just really old.

I’m not sure whether the unsolicited goods and services act applies to non-commercial suppliers here, but in any case, I’d ask the seller to pay the return postage and send it back to them.

I do want to add that I’d keep it if the seller doesn’t respond. And I agree with everyone else that you should only return it at the seller’s expence, unless you are just feeling particularly generous.

Boosters from the Legends set go for roughly $50, as JSexton said. I’ve seen them listed as low as $45 and as high as $70. I won the one for $34 (+ a couple bucks shipping), so I got a good deal. The reason they cost that much is because they’ve been out of print since 1994. Plus, some of the cards from Legends are worth a bit of money or are very useful in the game. At common there are Chain Lightnings (going for $10+ now, which amazes me), at uncommon there are Mana Drains, and at rare there are Mirror Universes, Chains of Mephistopheles, Moats, etc.

tr0psn4j, I was debating whether I would open the one booster. If I end up with two, I will definitely open one of them, and probably keep the other unopened. (Knowing my luck, I’ll end up with Recall as my rare, and Great Wall as one of my uncommons.)

The seller appears to be an individual, not an online store. They’ve sold only Magic-related items in the past, so they are likely selling their old collection bit by bit.

I offered the seller an additional payment (roughly equal to what I paid for the first booster) as payment for the second booster. It would save me the trouble of making a special trip to the post office, it would be more or less instant, and they wouldn’t have to worry about paying shipping for something they’ve already paid shipping on once. Does that sound fair? If they insist that I send it back, I will almost certainly do so, provided they pay shipping. (I say “almost” because if, for some reason, they’re a jerk or demanding, I might just respond in kind.)

I haven’t heard back from them yet. If I don’t hear back within a week, that baby is mine!

That sounds very fair and reasonable to me under the circumstances.

That’s a great link, Khadaji. Thanks for digging it up.

This is what I’d probably do, if I actually wanted and could use the extra pack. It’s the least burdensome and most ethical of the options, I think, and unless the seller is down to his last pack, he’ll probably be glad to get another sale.

Something sort of like this occured to me. I bid, won, and paid for an item. I received it. Then the seller sent me another letter, saying that he was about to ship off the item. I contacted him, and said that while I enjoy my clear plastic skull* very much, I only paid for one of them, and didn’t actually need another one. Fortunately, he hadn’t shipped the second one yet.

*Hello, sailor. I wanted the skull because it’s a treasure in the original Zork computer game.

Update -

The seller accepted my offer and thanked me for my honesty. :cool:

I hosted a Zendikar booster draft on Friday, so I opened one of the packs then. Since I know there are geeks on this board who might be curious, this is what I got in my crappy, crappy Legends booster pack:

Blazing Effigy
Tundra Wolves
Cyclopean Mummy
Devouring Deep
Emerald Dragonfly
Alabaster Potion
Energy Tap
Giant Slug
Wall of Earth
Blood Lust
Wolverine Pack
Storm Seeker
Red Mana Battery
Gosta Dirk

Nothing great. But it was a lot of fun opening a pack that old.

Agreed… if it were me I’d offer to send it back, but on the seller’s dime, not mine. Not my mistake, so I’d go as far as to drop it in the blue box on the corner, but I’m not spending money on it.

I don’t know that you have a legal obligation. IANAL, but I thought “unjust enrichment” implied that you’d done something wrong or deceitful to get yourself enriched, which isn’t the case here. It is, as you said, just a clerical error, and it wasn’t even your clerical error. Being held responsible for someone else’s mistake is pretty ridiculous, in my mind.