Everyone knows how frustrating it can be to have a package you ordered get sent to the wrong address and wait for the mistake to be fixed.
But what if you are on the other end of this misstep and were the one receiving an incorrect package?
Is it really your responsibility to care for the package? More importantly, are there legal consequences to doing so?
Here’s if You Can Keep a Package that You Didn’t Order:
Most of the time, when you receive a package you didn’t order, you will most likely be able to keep it. However, this completely depends on the company that shipped the package and the value. Sometimes they will send you a return shipping label and request that you return it.
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Can You Legally Keep Wrongly Delivered Packages?
The first and most important thing to note is that it is not illegal in any way to keep a package that was mistakenly sent to your home.
The Federal Trade Commission’s official ruling states: “By law, companies can’t send unordered merchandise to you, then demand payment. That means you never have to pay for things you get but didn’t order.”
The main job of The FTC is to regulate transactions and sales to protect the consumer.
So, by issuing this ruling, The FTC is ensuring that consumers who are sent products by mistake will not be held legally liable for what happens to the package once it is received.
More plainly, this means you can not get into legal trouble for keeping the package.
Along with legal protection, The FTC has also put in financial protections for the consumer.
This states that the recipient is also not financially responsible for returning the package. This means that the company that sent it can not ask you to spend any money to send it back.
What Happens if You Keep Misdelivered Packages?
If you received a package you didn’t order and wasn’t addressed, nothing bad will happen to you if you keep it.
According to The Federal Trade Commission, if you receive something in the mail that you didn’t order, was mislabeled, or just sent to you by mistake, you can legally keep it without any consequences.
The FTC even states that you are free to view this as a gift for yourself, meaning there will be no repercussions for hanging on to it.
However, this doesn’t mean you are completely safe from other consequences.
Most notably, if you are sent a package meant for your neighbor and keep it, you may find yourself in an awkward situation. Especially if you knew the package was meant for someone who you know yet still chose to keep it.
Morality aside, there are no severe or legal consequences to this.
What Should You Do with Packages Wrongly Delivered?
If you received a package by mistake and are dead set on making it right, you should first reach out to the company that sent it.
Legally, they cannot ask you to send it back or pay to get it shipped, but they might request that you leave it at your doorstep so they can have a delivery service pick it up.
However, whether or not you choose to do that is completely up to you.
If you received a package meant to be sent to someone you know, you should reach out to that neighbor to set up a time to hand it off. You are not required to do so.
If the company doesn’t ask for further action and you are not successful in tracking down the correct recipient, you should feel good knowing that you did everything within your capabilities.
So, go ahead and open it and enjoy your free gift. If it is something you have no use for or are just not interested in, you can also feel free to donate it.
What if the Address is Correct, but the Name is Wrong?
Whether or not the name is correct on a package delivered to your house makes no difference.
The fact is, it was sent to your residence, and while with mail, it is important to track down the correct person with ordered packages, there really isn’t a precedent.
Recently, there has been a huge uptick in packages delivered to homes from Amazon with the wrong name on them. This is, in fact, a scam.
Sellers on Amazon thrive off of customer reviews. So, to keep their reviews high, they will send packages to random houses so the seller can leave a review under a different name.
While this is wild, it happens more often than you think.
So, if you received a scam package, consider it a consultation prize for having someone use your address to scam people.
How Do You Return a Package You Didn’t Order?
The first thing you should do is call the company from which the package came.
Larger companies, like Amazon, will work with you to create a shipping label or may even send one of their drivers out to pick up the package, which helps take some of the burdens off of your back.
However, be prepared not to be able to return the package.
Some companies, especially those with their main shipping center located out of the country, for example, the fast-fashion giant Shein, will not allow you to send the package back on their own dime.
This is because the cost of the goods may be far less than shipping them back.
In cases like this, companies would prefer to eat the product’s cost instead of spending more money on shipping.
So, even sometimes, with your best intentions, there really isn’t a way to return the product.
Why Do Packages Generally End Up at the Wrong Address?
There are many different reasons why you may see a rogue package show up at your doorstep from time to time, and the biggest reason for this can all be chalked up to a human error.
While bigger companies like Amazon allow you to save specific shipping details to avoid misdelivering a package, sometimes things just go wrong.
The main reason is that people simply input the wrong address into their order form.
Delivery drivers only focus on the address on the label and not so much on the name.
So, it is nearly impossible for them to track who lives where, which is why you received a package that doesn’t have your name on it.
Another reason is that someone may have inputted the wrong address into the delivery coding. All delivery services rely on barcodes to ship items safely.
This barcode is scanned at every processing center and has all important delivery information.
If the address is incorrect on the data in the barcode, all the stops the package makes will keep it on track to be incorrectly delivered to your home.
You should find some major relief in knowing that you are not on the hook for any packages you receive that you simply didn’t order.
While it can seem daunting to track down the person, keep in mind that you are absolutely not obligated to take further action.