If I receive things in the mail that I never ordered, do I have to pay for them?

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Question:

I've been sent a number of DVDs that I've collected in a pile in my living room. I never ordered them and want to send them back. The DVD company keeps sending me bills that I don't think I should have to pay. What are my rights here?

Answer:

Any time you receive unsolicited items in the mail, you are entitled to consider them to be gifts and you are under no obligation to pay. Write to the DVD company and tell them that you don't want to receive any more, and intend to treat those you have already received as gifts.

If you keep receiving bills, write to the seller again and insist that they send you proof that you ordered the DVDs. If the bills still don't stop, notify the state consumer protection agency in the state where the DVD company is located. (To find your state consumer protection agency, see Nolo's article State Consumer Protection Offices.)

Before you start this process, however, make sure that you didn't agree to pay for the DVDs. Did you respond to an advertisement that offered you a free gift or a trial membership (to, let's say, a "DVD of the Month" club)? If so, check the fine print: You may have accidentally agreed to pay for your pile of DVDs. In this situation, your best bet is to write to the company, tell them that you think their ad was misleading, and offer to send the DVDs back. And make sure to tell them that you want to cancel the deal right away.

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