Let’s Review: If You Didn’t Order It, You Don’t Have To Pay For It Or Send It Back

Andrew subscribes to Popular Photography magazine, and was annoyed to receive an instructional DVD in the mail. Not because he’s a pro photographer and already knows his way around a DSLR, but because he didn’t order it. “I was just going to throw it out,” he writes. “thankfully I didn’t.” Why is that? Andrew frets that they would have charged him for it if he just tossed it out. But they can’t.

“[T]he burden of declining the purchase is on me!” Andrew writes. “I have to send the DVD back to them in order to avoid being charged! Not very cool.”

Well, that’s what they want you to think.



Unsolicited items that you receive in the mail are yours, and you don’t have to pay for them if you don’t want them. It’s nice that they provided an envelope to send the disc back (so you can keep the handy case) but you don’t even have to do that if you don’t want to.

As the Federal Trade Commission tells us, you’re under no obligation to tell the seller that you don’t want the item or to pay bills they send you.

You have no legal obligation to notify the seller. However, it is a good idea to write a letter to the company stating that you didn’t order the item and, therefore, you have a legal right to keep it for free. This may discourage the seller from sending you bills or dunning notices, or it may help clear up an honest error. Send your letter by certified mail. Keep the return receipt and a copy of the letter for your records. You may need it later.

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