If something is delivered to you but you did not order it, do you have to pay?

UPDATED: Jun 18, 2011

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If something is delivered to you but you did not order it, do you have to pay?

Oil was delivered from a company that was not ours. We are getting letters about taking us to court. It was their mistake. We never used this oil company. They should not have delivered to our home. Do we legally need to pay?

Asked on June 18, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Pennsylvania


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If a recipient receives unsolicited goods in the mail, as a general rule, they can keep them. This is to discourage mail order companies from sending out merchandise that was not ordered and then charging for it. However, here a good faith mistake was made. This is a different situation. The question is what was done about it? Did the company try to rectify the error? For instance, by coming back and draining the tank of the excess oil? If not, then you may well find yourself in small claims court. A claim that you have been what the law terms "unjustly enriched" by the mistake can be made. A judge can then sort out what's what. However I would be prepared to pay something - at least what you would have had to pay to your regular delivery company (and possibly a slight discount for the inconvenience).

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