What are Unsolicited Goods?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 01 February 2020
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Unsolicited goods are products or services provided to someone who did not specifically request or order them. Examples include things like sample magazines sent to entice potential subscribers, along with other sample products or professional services provided without request; if someone brings a dog to the groomer for a bath and the groomer also trims the dog's toenails, this is an unsolicited service. The laws surrounding unsolicited goods vary by nation, but generally people are not obliged to pay for them and the sender cannot demand payment or threaten legal action.

Laws concerning unsolicited goods usually indicate that people may dispose of the goods how they see fit, without needing to notify the sender or take any other actions. Senders cannot take the goods back, demand payment, or use acceptance of the goods to imply acceptance of a contract. Someone who accepts a sample of the magazine, for instance, does not become a paid subscriber by taking the sample. Essentially, such goods are treated as a gift.


In some nations, the law may distinguish between unsolicited goods and goods sent by mistake. This can include accidental multiplication of orders, goods packaged and sent to the wrong person, and so forth. In some nations, there are treated as unsolicited goods and people may keep and use them. In others, people may be obliged to report that they received the goods, allowing the sender to decide whether to collect them. Senders cannot require people to return mistaken orders at cost to themselves; if the sender wants them back, the sender must pay for it.

Unsolicited services can also be an issue. People receiving professional services from people like mechanics, veterinarians, and hair dressers must affirmatively request or approve added services. If a service provider provides a service that was not requested without checking first, the customer can dispute and may refuse to pay. The exception to this rule is in the medical and veterinary profession when a service is lifesaving; a surgeon does not need to call to ask for permission to make a vascular repair to prevent a patient from bleeding out, for example.

It is also possible to simply refuse unsolicited goods. If someone does not want to accept something from a mail carrier or courier, it can be refused with a request to return it to the sender. In the case of materials delivered when no one is around to affirmatively accept the shipment, people can write “refused” on the package and ask someone to pick it up, or bring it to mail or package processing center. The carrier will return it to the sender.


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