Have you recently received a bill for goods or services you do not recall ordering? It may not be a memory lapse on your part and instead relate to unsolicited goods or services.
The recent boom in parcel delivery and home delivery services has seen an increase in scams which utilise the delivery or provision of unrequested supplies to generate payment from unsuspecting businesses and individuals.
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) defines ‘unsolicited supplies’ as goods or services supplied to someone who did not agree to buy or receive them.
Under the ACL, it is unlawful for a supplier to demand payment for:
- Unauthorised advertisements or publications;
- Books, magazines or DVD’s posted to someone who did not order those items;
- Credit cards or debit cards;
- Works done in addition to those authorised.
A person or business can issue an invoice for payment if:
- They reasonably believe they have a right to be paid; or
- The invoice contains the warning required by the ACL Regulations: ‘This is not a bill. You are not required to pay any money”.
The warning must be the most prominent text in the invoice.
- Jane asks a mechanic to replace her car tyres. When she returns, her bill includes replacement brake pads, a new muffler and the 4 new tyres she requested. Jane only has to pay for the tyres, as the rest of the work was unsolicited and not authorised.
- John receives a package of printer cartridges, delivered to his business. The package is addressed to the business and includes an invoice stating payment is due within 7 days. There is no warning notice included. John does not have to pay for the printer cartridges.
If you receive unsolicited supplies, you must not wilfully damage or dispose of the supplies for 3 months from the date of receiving them. This is called the recovery period and the supplier can recover the goods within this time. If they do not collect the goods within the 3 month period, then the recipient can keep them with no obligation to pay. (However if the package is clearly labelled as your neighbour’s, no you cannot keep it and should hand it over as soon as possible as delivery mistakes do happen.)
The recovery period reduces to 1 month when the recipient gives written notice to the supplier. This notice must state:
- The recipient’s name and address;
- That the goods are unsolicited and not wanted;
- Where the goods can be collected from for the next month.
You cannot prevent or unreasonably refuse to allow the supplier to collect the goods during the recovery period. Please contact Kirsten Woolston (07) 3225 5628 should you need assistance with unsolicited goods or services.