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Old 12-11-2012, 12:12 PM   #31
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I expect best buy deliberately sent extra ipads and told them to keep them as a PR stunt They're getting press from it and I bet people will order from there just in case they can get lucky too...

May turn out the be the cheapest advert they've paid for
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:03 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by khalleron View Post
I think 'delivered by mistake' applies to items delivered to the wrong address, not items mailed to the proper address mistakenly.

It's Federal Law that anything sent through the mail that the recipient did not order is considered a gift and the sender cannot demand payment for it. This is to prevent scams.

I do think one has a moral duty to try to return the said items, but by Federal Law one does not have to nor can one be compelled to pay for them.

So be very careful what you mail.


If you live in Pennsylvania, and you come into control of another person's property (whether this other person is the intended recipient or the sender) that is delivered by mistake "as to the nature or amount of the property" (in other words, the cashier gave you too much change), or "the identity of the recipient" (in other words, the wrong addressee or address), you are committing a crime. State law can criminalize behavior that federal law does not (just not the other way around). And "delivery" does not mean "delivered through the mail or some other postal-type service", it just means possession transfers from one person to another (as in "drug delivery").

But, as stated before, the recipient has not committed a crime if she/he takes "reasonable measures to restore the property to a person entitled to have it". If they tell you to keep it, or ignore your report of mistaken delivery, you're in the clear. There has to be an intent to deprive the rightful owner of the property.

Last edited by hrosvit; 12-11-2012 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:13 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by hrosvit View Post
If you live in Pennsylvania, and you come into control of another person's property (whether this other person is the intended recipient or the sender) that is delivered by mistake "as to the nature or amount of the property" (in other words, the cashier gave you too much change), or "the identity of the recipient" (in other words, the wrong addressee or address), you are committing a crime. State law can criminalize behavior that federal law does not (just not the other way around). And "delivery" does not mean "delivered through the mail or some other postal-type service", it just means possession transfers from one person to another (as in "drug delivery").

But, as stated before, the recipient has not committed a crime if she/he takes "reasonable measures to restore the property to a person entitled to have it". If they tell you to keep it, or ignore your report of mistaken delivery, you're in the clear. There has to be an intent to deprive the rightful owner of the property.
I agree with khalleron. The law both on the federal and state level (including Pennsylvania) appears to make a clear distinction between unsolicited goods sent to the correct address and goods that are delivered by mistake to the wrong address. In the first instance, the person is not obligated in any way to even attempt to return the package. In the latter instance, a misdelivery, the person getting the package has no legal right to the goods which remain the property of the person to whom the package is addressed.

The law in PA that you referenced appears to cover only misdeliveries. The attorney general's website for Pennsylvania confirms that consumers in that state who receive unsolicited merchandise addressed to them are not required to return the items:

Quote:
If you receive a product in the mail, addressed to you, that you did not order, you can consider it a gift and are not obligated to pay for it.
And here the U.S. Postal Service affirms that items correctly delivered to you which are unsolicited are yours to keep:

Quote:
If you open the package and like what you find, you may keep it for free. In this instance, "finders-keepers" applies unconditionally.
In the case of the woman who got the 5 iPads, legally she was under no obligation to return them or even attempt to contact Best Buy.

The law may appear to favor consumers, but it's there to prevent unscrupulous companies from hounding people for payment for goods never ordered.

--Pat

Last edited by PatNY; 12-11-2012 at 11:48 PM.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:23 PM   #34
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You provided the same link for both.
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Old 12-11-2012, 11:49 PM   #35
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You provided the same link for both.

Fixed.
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Old 12-12-2012, 04:01 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by PatNY View Post
Apparently, there are at least two recent instances where they have sent out 5 ipads to a customer who has only ordered 1. Their response was to say "keep them."
Some less silly reasons...

1) 5% cash back from discover
2) rewards
3) generous returns policy
4) generous price match policy
5) instore pickup
6) instore returns
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:32 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by PatNY View Post

The law in PA that you referenced appears to cover only misdeliveries. The attorney general's website for Pennsylvania confirms that consumers in that state who receive unsolicited merchandise addressed to them are not required to return the items:

The portion of the PA AG's website you are linking to does not deal with deliveries by mistake. It deals with intentional deliveries under a "negative option" deal, where they deliberately mail you a product, and then obligate you for a further purchase if you keep it. Entirely different notion.

The concept of mistake deals with a product that is sent to the wrong location, or (as in this case) in an incorrect amount. Best Buy is not attempting to get you to buy five iPads by sending them to you; they just screwed up and sent five, when you only ordered one. The extra four are goods delivered by mistake, not as an attempt to obligate you to pay for them in the future. The PA law requires that you make an attempt to return them to the rightful owner; if they refuse or don't respond, then the items belong to you.


Additionally, the portion of the USPS website you linked to again deals with things that were deliberately sent to you, and states that you are not obligated to pay for them. It does not deal with things delivered by mistake at all.

Last edited by hrosvit; 12-12-2012 at 08:35 AM.
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:39 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by hrosvit View Post
The portion of the PA AG's website you are linking to does not deal with deliveries by mistake. It deals with intentional deliveries under a "negative option" deal, where they deliberately mail you a product, and then obligate you for a further purchase if you keep it. Entirely different notion.

The concept of mistake deals with a product that is sent to the wrong location, or (as in this case) in an incorrect amount. Best Buy is not attempting to get you to buy five iPads by sending them to you; they just screwed up and sent five, when you only ordered one. The extra four are goods delivered by mistake, not as an attempt to obligate you to pay for them in the future.
We are talking about two different types of mistakes in this thread:

1) mistakes that occur during the delivery process (or misdeliveries)

2) mistakes that occur during order processing (processing mistakes) such as the one that resulted in the customer getting 5 ipads from Best Buy and in which no delivery mistake is involved.

The portion of the PA AG's website I linked to does not cover misdeliveries. But it likely covers processing mistakes. Otherwise, any company sending consumers unsolicited items with the intent to get them to buy could merely claim as a defense that it was a processing error and get away with their tactics. So the law is interpreted broadly on behalf of consumers to protect them. And sites such as The Consumerist, which was part of the original story, are also reading the law this way.

One would have to look at case law to see if this specific issue has come up in the past, but a brief search fails to show instances where a company has successfully sued to get back merchandise it included by mistake in an order. I suspect that's why companies normally don't ask for the merchandise back. Because the law is not on their side. That doesn't mean they never ask for it back. They just usually don't.

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The PA law requires that you make an attempt to return them to the rightful owner; if they refuse or don't respond, then the items belong to you.
That's only in the event of a misdelivery (delivery mistake). In the case of the 5 iPads, there was no misdelivery. Only a processing mistake. So the PA law you initially mentioned would not apply here. Can you cite a single precedent where a person was prosecuted or sued for keeping unsolicited items that were correctly addressed to and sent to them?

Quote:
Additionally, the portion of the USPS website you linked to again deals with things that were deliberately sent to you, and states that you are not obligated to pay for them. It does not deal with things delivered by mistake at all.
Again, there was no delivery mistake in the case of the customer who got the 5 iPads. That's an important distinction here and in the law. The mistake was in the order processing stage. The 5 iPads were deliberately shipped to the customer. The shipping company did its job perfectly and made no mistakes. Therefore, the case of the 5 iPads would fall under the protection of the federal law cited on the USPS website -- and the PA AG's guidelines on their website as well. It would not fall under the PA law that you originally cited.

--Pat
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:42 AM   #39
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Some less silly reasons...

1) 5% cash back from discover
2) rewards
3) generous returns policy
4) generous price match policy
5) instore pickup
6) instore returns
What?
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:08 PM   #40
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If I buy something at a store and someone mistakenly hands me $100 in change instead of $20, it is highly unethical to walk out of there instead of returning the extra cash even if it was technically given to me.

I should hope that is the lesson most people would teach their children. Not "get away with whatever you can't be prosecuted for."
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:35 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by PatNY View Post
We are talking about two different types of mistakes in this thread:

1) mistakes that occur during the delivery process (or misdeliveries)

2) mistakes that occur during order processing (processing mistakes) such as the one that resulted in the customer getting 5 ipads from Best Buy and in which no delivery mistake is involved.

The portion of the PA AG's website I linked to does not cover misdeliveries. But it likely covers processing mistakes. Otherwise, any company sending consumers unsolicited items with the intent to get them to buy could merely claim as a defense that it was a processing error and get away with their tactics. So the law is interpreted broadly on behalf of consumers to protect them. And sites such as The Consumerist, which was part of the original story, are also reading the law this way.

One would have to look at case law to see if this specific issue has come up in the past, but a brief search fails to show instances where a company has successfully sued to get back merchandise it included by mistake in an order. I suspect that's why companies normally don't ask for the merchandise back. Because the law is not on their side. That doesn't mean they never ask for it back. They just usually don't.



That's only in the event of a misdelivery (delivery mistake). In the case of the 5 iPads, there was no misdelivery. Only a processing mistake. So the PA law you initially mentioned would not apply here. Can you cite a single precedent where a person was prosecuted or sued for keeping unsolicited items that were correctly addressed to and sent to them?



Again, there was no delivery mistake in the case of the customer who got the 5 iPads. That's an important distinction here and in the law. The mistake was in the order processing stage. The 5 iPads were deliberately shipped to the customer. The shipping company did its job perfectly and made no mistakes. Therefore, the case of the 5 iPads would fall under the protection of the federal law cited on the USPS website -- and the PA AG's guidelines on their website as well. It would not fall under the PA law that you originally cited.

--Pat
You say "we are looking at two different types of mistakes in this thread", and that "it (the portion of the AG's website) likely covers processing mistakes". Why does it likely cover them? Again, that portion of the AG's website only covers deliberate deliveries; not mistaken ones. It is a very specific kind of scam, known as the negative option. It has absolutely nothing to do with "mistakes" of any kind. In this thread, the amount of iPads sent is a mistake (I don't think anyone would argue that Best Buy intentionally sent five iPads with the intent to later come back and charge her for the additional four). You choose to lump "processing mistake" in with "purposeful delivery of item never ordered", rather than lumping it in with "delivery mistakes". I would, rather, argue that the two types of "mistakes" should be lumped together, and obligate the recipient to return (or at least make reasonable efforts), while the "deliberate" delivery does not obligate the recipient at all, and falls under the protection of the PA AG and USPS sites you linked. One is a deliberate action; the other two are mistakes (by the person entering the address, the person processing the order, or the person delivering the package).

A quick search of the interweb shows that several other states (AZ, MD, KY, NJ, etc.) all have statutes that are worded almost exactly the same as PA's.

We will probably have to agree to disagree. I realize this was just an intellectual exercise, rather than a specific forumite asking for advice, but we're all aware that legal advice obtained on a e-reading forum is worth exactly what was paid for it. And that is not a snide remark about your advice; I'm talking about mine. I do have experience with the PA Crimes Code, but that doesn't mean I'm right.

In conclusion, I'll post the entire PA statute, so that anyone interested can evaluate it on their own:

"18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3924 A person who comes into control of property of another that he knows to have been lost, mislaid, or delivered under a mistake as to the nature or amount of the property or the identity of the recipient is guilty of theft if, with intent to deprive the owner thereof, he fails to take reasonable measures to restore the property to a person entitled to have it."

I think that the phrase "delivered under a mistake as to the nature or amount of the property" is directly applicable in this situation - she ordered one iPad, and five were shipped. That's a mistake as to the amount of the property.
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:42 PM   #42
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You say "we are looking at two different types of mistakes in this thread", and that "it (the portion of the AG's website) likely covers processing mistakes". Why does it likely cover them?
Because, as I mentioned, if it didn't then companies would send items unsolicited with expectation of payment and say merely that it was a processing error. By including processing errors under the law, there is no out for companies who might intentionally abuse the law using a flimsy excuse.

Quote:
Again, that portion of the AG's website only covers deliberate deliveries; not mistaken ones. It is a very specific kind of scam, known as the negative option. It has absolutely nothing to do with "mistakes" of any kind. In this thread, the amount of iPads sent is a mistake (I don't think anyone would argue that Best Buy intentionally sent five iPads with the intent to later come back and charge her for the additional four). You choose to lump "processing mistake" in with "purposeful delivery of item never ordered", rather than lumping it in with "delivery mistakes". I would, rather, argue that the two types of "mistakes" should be lumped together, and obligate the recipient to return (or at least make reasonable efforts), while the "deliberate" delivery does not obligate the recipient at all, and falls under the protection of the PA AG and USPS sites you linked. One is a deliberate action; the other two are mistakes (by the person entering the address, the person processing the order, or the person delivering the package).
In am well aware of negative option clubs. I used to belong to a few of them myself. Negative option clubs and similar type offers are probably at the root of these laws. But since the law can't distinguish between purposely sent unsolicited items and items sent as a result of a processing error, it considers all items sent unsolicited to a correct address as the same in order to protect consumers.

And, yes, we do have a disagreement on how the law views "processing errors." We also have a disagreement about the usage of the term "deliberate deliveries" as the instance with the iPads should be considered a "deliberate delivery" (albeit following a screw up in processing). And while you consider "delivered under a mistake" in the PA statute to include processing errors, I believe it refers strictly to delivery mistakes.

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We will probably have to agree to disagree. I realize this was just an intellectual exercise, rather than a specific forumite asking for advice, but we're all aware that legal advice obtained on a e-reading forum is worth exactly what was paid for it. And that is not a snide remark about your advice; I'm talking about mine.
My interest in this at the moment is not to advise anyone what to do in such situations. Nor is it to consider the ethical implications (each person needs to consider that for themselves), rather it is to determine the situation from a strictly legal perspective.

Keep in mind that the The Consumerist site agrees with my take on the law. They said in no uncertain terms that it was legal for the customer to keep the iPads without making any effort to return them. I realize that laws can differ among many states, but I would be surprised if PA law was in direct conflict with federal law on this matter.

Quote:
A quick search of the interweb shows that several other states (AZ, MD, KY, NJ, etc.) all have statutes that are worded almost exactly the same as PA's.

I do have experience with the PA Crimes Code, but that doesn't mean I'm right.
But are any of those states interpreting those similarly worded statutes as broadly as you are? Can you find a single instance of case law where a state has forced a customer to return an item sent unsolicited to the correct person and address? You say you have experience with the PA crimes code and I assume it is as a legal professional, and not as a defendant. So, you probably have access to legal search tools that I don't have. Can you do a search at your convenience and find out what precedence is on this? I am seriously interested to know the case law on this. Especially at the higher court levels.

--Pat
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:17 PM   #43
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You say you have experience with the PA crimes code and I assume it is as a legal professional, and not as a defendant.
So if the root of my experience were that I had been arrested for a violation of this section, you would be less inclined to believe me?
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:03 PM   #44
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So if the root of my experience were that I had been arrested for a violation of this section, you would be less inclined to believe me?
To the contrary. I might be more inclined to believe you, provided all significant aspects of your case were exactly like those in the iPad situation. And if you told me you didn't get off, I'd probably say you had a poor lawyer.

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Old 12-13-2012, 05:56 AM   #45
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Posts: 976
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Device: kindle, fire
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatNY View Post
What?
The OP propositioned that we should shop Best Buy because they might make a mistake that would benefit us. I don't think hoping for an error is a good reason to shop somewhere. Best Buy happens to be a great place to shop even when they are not making errors. If you shop there, pretty soon you will actually be able to afford to buy a tablet with money so you will not need to wrestle with the ethics of benefiting from an error.
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