In most instances, consumers have received goods and services that they did not demand for. Some consumers have even ended up paying for such unsolicited goods and services mainly because they never understood their rights and obligations. Thus, there is need to understand what constitutes unsolicited goods and services. Unsolicited goods or services are therefore, goods or services supplied to someone who has not asked for them or agreed to pay for them. It may also be any goods delivered to, or any services performed for, a consumer by a supplier without the consumer having expressly or implicitly requested that delivery or performance. Consumers may receive some goods without ordering them alongside an invoice asking them to pay. For example, you order ten (10) sachets of powdered milk and the supplier supplies you with two (2) extra sachets. The supplier then requests to be paid for the 2 extra sachets supplied to you. You are not obliged to pay for the extra supplies of sachets that have been imposed on you by the supplier.
The same applies with services where some service providers may do extra painting on your car after you clearly asked them to paint the left front door. The service provider took it upon themselves and painted the four (4) doors of your car and then demanded a payment 4 times the original price. You are not mandated to pay for the extra painting unless you agreed to it before they performed the service. In some instances, goods or services that may be supplied are materially different from the goods or services previously supplied to an extent not reasonably contemplated in an agreement for the periodic delivery of goods. Unsolicited goods may also be goods delivered after the termination of an agreement. Nonetheless, consumers are not in a position to pay for such goods unless they willingly agree to do so.
Lastly but not the least, unsolicited goods may be goods delivered or services performed at a location, date or time other than as agreed. There are also situations where a consumer makes an order of goods and the supplier delivers goods in excess of the quantity that the consumer agreed to buy.
It is however, illegal to supply goods and services that have not been requested for. For example, through the Competition and Consumer Protection Act Number 24 of 2010 (‘the Act’), administered by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), it is prohibited under Section 47(a)(iv) of the Act to supply unsolicited services to consumers.
CCPC received and investigated a number of complaints to do with unsolicited services. In one complaint, the consumer reported that the service provider initiated fixed monthly deductions from his salary without his consent. This constituted unfair trading practice and contravened section 47(a) (iv) of the Act. CCPC as per trend investigated the matter. CCPC found that the Complainant did not apply for any service and ordered the service provider to refund the Complainant all the money equivalent to the amount that was deducted without his consent. CCPC also fined the service provider according to the fines guidelines.
*Lastly, if as a consumer, you receive unsolicited goods or services, you don’t have to pay for them but inform the supplier. Thus, consumers are not obliged to pay for such unsolicited services. Service providers should therefore, desist from supplying unsolicited goods and services in order to avoid litigation and loss of revenue.
Provincial Investigator (Competition and Consumer Protection Commission)
*For comments or to lodge a complaint, write to the Director Consumer and education, P.O Box 34919. Lusaka. Telephone: 222775/222787, Toll Free Line: 5678, Fax: 222789, e-mail: email@example.com.