Unsolicited products by mail.....

If a company sends you something in the mail and says “Keep this if you like, for only $10, or return in the pre-paid packaging” and it’s something that you didn’t send away for, is it true you can keep it without paying them? I know I’m generalizing like a madman this morning, but that’s the gist. Either someone told me that when I was a kid or my Google-Fu is weak this morning because I can’t find it on line, but I was almost sure of it…


The Illinois Attorney General’s office has the following info re. unsolicited gifts:

This relates to charity “bribes” (if you keep these notecards please send us $15), but it applies across the board to any unrequested items you receive in the mail.

I rememeber the USPS even had TV commercials to that effect in the 70’s or early 80’s to get the message out and stop the trickery.

Perfect, thanks everybody!

Same general rule in England and Wales. They are unsolited goods or services.

The last thing like that I got was a holy relic paper doily, that they must get back even if I didn’t donate. I of course destroyed the holy relic after desecrating it. Everybody knows that real holy relics are always mailed by registered letter, not bulk postage.

My favorite story about such things is in the book The Buffalo Creek Disaster. It goes something like this:

A guy goes to a lawyer for advice. A company had sent him three neckties in the mail, along with a letter saying that if he liked the ties, he could keep them and send the company $3, but otherwise, he must return the ties. The guy liked the ties, but didn’t want to send in the money, and the company was sending angry letters.

The lawyer sent the company a pill, along with a message saying, “We thought you would be interested in the enclosed pill, which a local doctor recommends for all sorts of maladies. The cost of the pill is $10. Please send us $7, which is the cost of the pill minus the cost of the neckties.”

The company sent the pill back, along with another demand for $5. The lawyer wrote another letter, saying, “We’re sorry you didn’t want the pill. The doctor had to pick up the returned pill from the post office, which is charged as a house call, for which the doctor charges $20. Please send $17, the cost of the house call minus the cost of the neckties.”

And the company never wrote back.