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Came with Invoice- But I Didn’t Order Anything!

I recently found myself subject to one of the sleazier marketing schemes, perhaps sales-scheme is more accurate. You receive a package, by mail. Unexpected.

You pick it up and there is an item that you definitely didn’t order. Some company that has your address- perhaps one you’ve ordered from in the past. Even though you didn’t order this, it came with an invoice.

At this point, you can (pay postage) to send it back, or pay the invoice, right? Not quite- according the US Postal Service, the item is a gift.

If you were familiar with this sort of thing, you could have returned it for free by marking it “Return to Sender”. If, perplexed, you opened it, as I did, you can either keep it or throw it away. The US Postal Service very firmly states:

Whatever you do, don’t pay for it — and don’t get conned if the sender follows up with a phone call or visit. By law, unsolicited merchandise is yours to keep.”

There’s actually a name for this kind of thing, when it occurs as part of what the US Postal Inspection Service calls a Brushing Scam.

If you don’t pay the invoice, you can expect a followup. The recommendation seems to be following up with a letter quoting the relevant section of law.

Of course- this information is US applicable only- Australia gives the company a 3 month “recovery window”, during which you aren’t allowed to damage the thing they sent you. And it doesn’t apply to any sneaky “free trials” that aren’t free, or that automatically renew. If you ordered it, that changes things a bit. Regardless- you can always complain (more on who to complain to, later).

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