‘Amazon, why am I deluged by unwanted parcels?’

Free goodies may seem like Christmas every day, but for one reader they became a problem

When Tiffany Crow’s doorbell rings, her heart sinks and she immediately wonders: what will it be this time?

A box of £25 wireless speakers, more fitness wristbands, or a further batch of projectors? What is certain is she will have to spend more time disposing of the item, as well as all the packaging.

Since January, Crow has been bombarded with hundreds of parcels from Amazon, which despite her repeated pleas, have not stopped arriving at her home in Greenwich, south-east London. What started as a minor inconvenience has over the past few months turned into “a bit of a nightmare” as she has been forced to spend hours each week dealing with the unwanted packages.

Can she, and others receiving unsolicited and unwanted goods keep them? The law is complex but it would appear that she is completely within her rights to keep the stuff.

She has started giving the goods away, in an unexpected boon for her neighbours. However she says she’s finally had enough and contacted Guardian Money to bring an end to the torrent. She says her house has repeatedly filled up with the “crazy” amount of packaging that accompanies every delivery.

And, in case you are wondering, she does not have Alexa – Amazon’s voice-activated system that has been implicated in unwanted deliveries of dolls’ houses.

“It started off as a bit of weird thing, but has spiralled out of control,” says Crow, who works full time. “When the postman arrives he now has a big grin on his face as he hands over the latest parcel.

“I must have had 30 wireless speakers, all worth £25 each. A similar number of fitness bracelets, globes … Well over 100 items all addressed to me. I haven’t ordered or paid for any of this stuff. They appear to come from Dumfries, and just keep on coming.

“I have called Amazon more than 10 times, talking to customer services in India and the Philippines. I have sent emails, posted on social media, but no one can shed any light on why it’s happening, or better still, get them stopped.”

Amazon parcels piled up at Tiffany Crow’s home
Amazon parcels piled up at Crow’s home. Photograph: Tiffany Crow

She says the local council is very strict on recycling, meaning she has spent hours separating out the items and packaging that can’t be recycled. The final straw came when she was expecting a real Amazon delivery, and she drove to the post office depot to pick up the item, only to find it was another set of unordered projectors.

“You’d think that Amazon would want to get to the bottom of it but I’ve got nowhere with them. After all someone must be paying for all this stuff. I stopped seeing the funny side many weeks ago. It’s crazy and I really resent the intrusion,” she says.

She says she considered cancelling her Prime account but was reluctant to because she would lose the £79 she had paid. And as a working single mum, she needs to be able to buy online, she says.

This is not the first time this has happened. In 2014, Robert Quinn, then an engineering student, received 46 items worth £3,600, including a 3D TV worth £889, tablets, a games console and even a heater. In his case they were “returns” meant for an Amazon depot but ended up at his Bromley home.

A spokesman for Amazon declined to offer an explanation as to why the Crow family had been sent the parcels. All it would say was: “We have apologised to the customer and taken measures to stop the deliveries.” Money understands the company has also refunded Crow’s Prime membership worth £79 a year, and made a further goodwill gesture.

Can you keep it?

Unordered items are considered “unsolicited goods”, and can be kept but only if they are addressed to you and there has been no previous contact with the company relating to the item.

If you have been sent items by mistake it is a different story. So if you were sent a duplicate order or additional items this is not deemed unsolicited, and the company can ask for them back. The same applies to an item sent to someone else that arrives at your house. You should to inform the company and it is up to them to do the rest.

In 2103 the online retailer Zavvi sent customers games consoles worth £170, instead of the £20 games they had ordered. It threatened customers with legal action claiming the items were not unsolicited. The recipients in this case had no right to retain the consoles.

It is rare for genuinely unsolicited items to be delivered. It does happen, but often it is a marketing gimmick with an item of very low value. Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 you can keep the freebie.

With an item of value it is worth contacting the trader to check. Citizens Advice has a template letter pointing out that the trader can collect the item at its expense in the next 14 days “but after this time I will treat the goods as my own”.


Miles Brignall

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Amazon seller offered ‘bribe’ to leave great review for product
The wall stud finder cost just £13.60 but I was offered £15.60 to highly rate it

Miles Brignall

21, Oct, 2019 @6:00 AM

Article image
Boxed in: Amazon refused to take back unwanted delivery
Tony Harding, 79, was left with a heavy exercise bike he did not order and told he would have to dispose of it himself

Miles Brignall

01, Feb, 2020 @7:00 AM

Article image
Online shoppers fail to get parcels but struggle to get refund
As Black Friday approaches, shoppers say some retailers are mistakenly claiming parcels have been delivered

Miles Brignall

21, Nov, 2020 @9:00 AM

Article image
The 88-year-old Amazon asked to ‘prove’ they’re over 18
Some items like alcohol are restricted ... and by law the recipient must have ID proof

Rebecca Smithers

29, Oct, 2019 @6:00 AM

Article image
Why did Amazon charge me £827 for an order I didn’t make?
I didn’t recognise the delivery address, and so far I haven’t got a full refund

Miles Brignall

19, Dec, 2018 @7:00 AM

Article image
Poor service from Amazon over its faulty HD television description
The company advertised the television as Full HD but it wasn’t, and I’m struggling to find a resolution

Rebecca Smithers

06, Aug, 2016 @6:00 AM

Article image
Fake reviews: How the Facebook 'factories' are still ripping us off
Months after a Which? investigation into the manufacture of misleading reviews most are still active

Rupert Jones

20, Apr, 2019 @6:00 AM

Article image
Amazon and Waitrose ban customer for complaints and returning too much
Big online retailers are barring shoppers – sometimes for reasons they don’t understand

Jess Clark

13, Aug, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
The Amazon worker: paid £18,000 a year to shift 250 items an hour
Aaron Callaway is 24 and works four nights a week alongside robots in the retailer’s warehouse

Donna Ferguson

20, Jan, 2018 @6:30 AM

Article image
Amazon Echo, Google Home or Sonos One: which smart speaker should I buy?
Voice-control devices that can play music, answer questions and buy goods are one of the hottest gifts this Christmas. Here’s what they can do – and our pick of the best buys

Samuel Gibbs

01, Dec, 2017 @11:38 AM