Should a Consumer Return a Duplicate Shipment?

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Last updated on August 27, 2022 Comments: 67

Day one, there didn’t appear to be a problem. Some time earlier, my girlfriend ordered some clothing online. Either she had received a discount to apply to the order or she would receive a future discount in return for placing the order. I’m not clear on the details of the discount, but it’s mostly irrelevant to the story and the resulting conundrum. Well, it’s a conundrum to me, but she didn’t seem to give her choice a second thought.

That day, the package arrived. It contained everything she ordered from the large clothing retailer. I won’t name the store; I used to shop there myself for cheap tee-shirts and comfortable jeans, but I’m not a big fan of the quality anymore. And they’ve been known to mail coupons whereby the recipient may receive one of three discounts — you never know which discount you’ll get until you open the mailing.


Day two, she found a surprise: a second shipment. It was identical to the first. The packing slip matched character for character. It was the same order number. She checked the online activity for her credit card, and there was only one charge. She paid once, but received her full shipment twice. The error was clearly in the distribution process.

By the time she shared the news with me, she had already made her decision: she would keep the extra shipment — and keep the mistake to herself. (Well, now the situation is somewhat public.) The products she received are some she wouldn’t mind having duplicates. She cited me the law, which apparently in New York — I haven’t confirmed this — says that if a company sends a customer a package through the mail, that package is the property of the recipient.

If the law clearly indicates the shipment belongs to her regardless of whether she has paid, she is under no obligation to do anything else but enjoy the free gifts.

In other words, the law is the only metric by which consumer behavior should be evaluated. We talked about this philosophy briefly, and it was a non-judgmental discussion. In her mind it’s simple: a large company made a mistake, and her responsibilities in the matter are clear. I can see the situation from her perspective. This is hardly a loss to a big clothing company. They’re likely not to care. In fact, based on previous experiences, I expect that if she were to call the company to let them know of the error, the company’s policy is almost guaranteed to involve allowing the customer to keep the package with no further obligations.

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As a consumer, I don’t feel bad for the company. It can handle the loss; in fact, the company’s executive plan their pricing with a certain amount of planned loss. All customers are already paying for the occasional shipping mistake, not to mention outright in-store shoplifting and online fraud. But as someone who either sells items or can sympathize with small retail business owners, I can I think companies might like to know of the error, even if they will tell the consumer to keep the extra products.

Maybe the rules are different depending on how we might assume the mistake might affect the company.

What would I do if I were in her place? If the company were small, I’d call and let them know about the mistake. With this large clothing retail company? I don’t know what I would do. So I asked Consumerism Commentary readers on Twitter after letting my girlfriend know this would be the topic of an upcoming article on Consumerism Commentary. (Some of these tweets are edited or combined.)

We had that happen once. We informed them of it. They thanked us and just told us to keep the stuff. – @SWAMFinance

call and tell them and let them decide. Good karma will hopefully prevail 🙂 – @AppFlyer

Call the company who will then praise you and just tell you to keep it anyways 😉 – @BudgetsAreSexy

I’d want to keep the stuff, but would feel too guilty. Call the company. 🙂 – @KrystalAtWork

@krystalatwork I’d do the same thing. Of course, I’d ask that they pay return shipping though; I’m not a charity 🙂 – @debtblag

I tell them. Half the time they tell you to keep it… but that’s their call… of course, they’d better make it really easy for me to send back if they want it back! – @RevancheGS

I’ll play devils advocate. Keep! I mean, they are going to tell you to keep it anyways, 9/10. – @accordingtoathena

call them. company may give u a discount on a future purchase for being a good Samaritan. – @MattVATech

I could be just greedy or lazy but I’d just keep it, lol – @moneyfig

call/return. It’s the right thing to do. – @thegoodhuman

Update: As pointed out by @HomeBuyerNation, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is clear on this issue.

If you receive merchandise that you didn’t order, you have a legal right to keep it as a free gift… You have no legal obligation to notify the seller. However, it is a good idea to write a letter to the company stating that you didn’t order the item and, therefore, you have a legal right to keep it for free. This may discourage the seller from sending you bills or dunning notices, or it may help clear up an honest error.

The Twitter poll isn’t a scientific study, of course, but it seems the general consensus, outside of a few outliers, is that a consumer should call and can expect the company not to ask for the shipment to be returned, despite the lack of a legal obligation.

What do you think? What would you do in this situation? Keep the items knowing the company won’t be affected by the loss or call to report the error? Have you been through this experience before? Is it even possible to accurately predict what you would do if faced with the same situation? No judging!

Article comments

David Hold says:

keep the 2nd shipment … return the first for a full refund because if you tell the company the employee that screwed up. may get fired

Jay C. says:

There are a couple variables I would consider before finalizing my decision regarding whether to keep any duplicate item(s) I received or to make the return. First off, was the item purchased from a large retailer or a small Ma n Pa’s type online presence? Secondly, it’s logical to look at the value of the item(s) and take said value into consideration before deciding; does the value of the duplicate item(s) merit the time and effort it would take to make the return? The most important factor for me would undoubtedly be who I purchased the item from. That said, if a large retailer who’s raking in billions in profit every year sent me a duplicate item or items, I’d call it my lucky day, regardless of the item(s) value. On the other hand however; I’d be very likely to get in contact with a small retailer, an eBay seller, or similar, if the item(s) value merited a return. An expensive mistake like this could cause (albeit unlikely, but still) a small business to close down, or significant hardship and grief. So I’d surely go out of my way to make sure that a small-time retail presence got their stuff back, doing my part to help avoid such a scenario.

Karen says:

Something kind of similar happened to be recently. I purchased a hookah for $100 and another hundred dollars worth of hookah supplies. The hookah glass was broken. Glass was everywhere. I sent a pic. They told me that they’d send me a new one. Then, they changed their minds, and said I needed to send it back, and they were not sending another. They acted like it was my fault that it wasn’t packaged correctly. I packed EVERYTHING up and sent it back. I put the hookah box in a plastic trash bag, tied it up tight, and sent it back. It’s been close to a week. I still haven’t received my refund.

Danni says:

So what happens if you order office supplies from a big company, the company ships it out and sends you an email saying it was received, but it never was. They send a replacement order…and 4 months later the original box (unopened) shows up. What to do then?!

Ian Rich says:

I just experienced this. I immediately contacted the company thinking they would tell me to just keep the order. Was more telling them so someone else wasn’t missing their order. They told me they would pay for shipping and to send it back.. this is also a quality controlled item so I’m confused as to the request and told them I’d rather just pay a reasonable price for their screw up and be done with it. Haven’t heard back since

Anonymous says:

This happened to me, ordered fitness equipment .one day I received my order. 3 days later another one arrived. What’s odd is the shipping tracking label is identical on both boxes.
Company Only charged for one, for second equipment I had to hire some one to get it out of the rain to move inside.

Janet says:

I ordered one item from an tv club and they just sent me a box with a dozen of them. I checked to make sure they only charged me for the one. They did. I’m waiting to see if they get in touch with me. If not, Merry Christmas to me.

Tsepiso says:

I am waiting for the parcel from other country so they called me for payment and I did and they promised me that they will send it to where I stay but day past and next day they want another payment so I want to know is it legal or it’s a scam

TBr says:

Sounds very much like a SCAM!

BigBob says:

The FTC article you are quoting is intended for consumers who are victims of companies that send unsolicited merchandise and then demand payment, a common scam.

Mijacogeo says:

Actually, the FTC clarified the issue BECAUSE consumers were being scammed by companies whom would send extra or unsolicited items and then bill them accordingly. As it stands now, unsolicited merchandise is to be considered a gift, and the consumer is under no obligation to inform and/or repay the supplier or return the merchandise. That doesn’t mean that the consumer cannot inform, repay, or return the item(s), it simply means that the supplier has no legal recourse for remuneration for said items. If one is so inclined— solely out of kindness or “morality”— to inform, repay or return the items, that is their prerogative.

BB says:

My husband and I had this happen recently when we ordered three Xl dog beds from Sam’s Club, each of which came in huge, heavy boxes. We took the three duplicates to the store. They didn’t know what to do. We spent nearly two hours in the store, waiting while the clerk called numerous people as she didn’t know how to process such a return. Finally, they decided that we’d have to ship them back. So we had to haul these huge boxes back home. We were never compensated in any way for all of the trouble that their error put us through.

Nelsy Torres says:

okay this is actually happening to me right now. I ordered two computers from a big company (you can probably guess) and the usps driver sent the package to my neighbors. Issue number one is that we didn’t know this until 3 days after it had been delivered because our neighbors moved out a couple months ago. We thought it was weird that they would have a package because no one has been living there, so my brother went to look and it was ours. The package had been siting out in the rain for the past three days . Second problem is that I had already called the store and informed them of the missing package. They company filed a claim and immediately sent us a replacement package. So now I have the original computers and two new ones on its way. So I have this same problem do I tell this large corporation and send back two computers or do I keep all four because technically none of this was my fault? I don’t know why I’m having such a moral issue with this. On one hand I did only pay for two but on the other it would be really helpful if everyone in my family could have a computer. And that’s boy some bs excuse to justify the action it would benefit my family especially during covid when everything is online.

LK says:

I feel this is one that will haunt you due to how costly computers are – and given that the insurance company claim had been filed – you might get them anyways.

Chad says:

I ordered a laptop Friday for Saturday delivery. When it didn’t show up i called customer service and they said I could expect it go arrive Tuesday. Tuesday came around and I received two.

Lee Gordon says:

The other day, I ordered an inverter that cost around $181 (USD). When it arrived, there were four of them instead of one. The FTC site says if you are sent merchandise you did not order, you can keep it as a free gift. Does that apply to when they give you too many of an item you ordered? I emailed the company about it, but they haven’t replied yet. When I called them on the phone, they said they would forward my information, and refused to give me an answer as to whether or not they agreed it was my right to keep the merchandise. If it’s legal to keep it, I would like to keep it. However, I don’t want to get into legal trouble if it’s not allowed. Can anyone direct me to certain information on a case like this?

Meagan says:

I’ve had something recently happen that is similar. I ordered binoculars from cabelas and finally after two months and multiple email conversations, they arrived. Then, one day later I received a second pair. This was in June and they were ordered in April. I assumed this second package was actually a courtesy since the package was lost and I missed being able to use them for seeing the spring migratory birds and told them that in the multiple emails about the missing package. Now it’s the end of august and I receive a voicemail and an email asking me to now either return the extra pair or pay for them at a discount. It’s been almost 4 months! Needless to say, they have been opened and used a few times, and they literally want me to send them back or pay. Is this normal? Do I have to send them back? Or after 4 months in my house, are they mine? How could they even take them back after that much time during the pandemic none the less. They are binoculars and have been put up to my face and eyes. I find this so absurd

lk says:

tell them what happened, what you assumed, and what you did. and say you will return the used pair if you get a shipping label – i.e. nothing out of your pocket. It’s crazy they want them back

@jerieri says:

I couldn’t do this myself, but I can’t believe no one has mentioned the obvious but unethical option…..Return one of the orders, get your money back and keep the other.

Jenny says:

Kohls shipped me 2 extra pairs of pants with my order once. They weren’t even close to my size and I didn’t want to keep them. I took them to the store, explained what happened and guess what, I’m sorry you don’t have a receipt for them we can’t take them back. Yep, even after I explained they were in my package, I didn’t order them and I just wanted to give them the pants back, they wouldn’t take them.

Damien says:

Is there a “price limit” to the law? I ask because a company sent me a duplicate (and very expensive) machine. Your moral and ethical arguments aside my partner and I have already decided to keep it. And after reading many articles and the FTC’s website everything is says we are entitled to.

Polly says:

Hilarious. My mom ordered a massage chair from a third party seller on amazon. We received our order a few weeks ago. And just today, they sent a SECOND massage chair. Free of charge. I tried to call them but customer service is closed at the moment. So for now, I’m just waiting for an email. If the don’t pay for the return shipping, WE ARE KEEPING THE FREE MASSAGE CHAIR.

Tanya Young says:

I ordered 1 product but was charged twice for the duplicate amazon isnt available at the customer service number do to covid i want my money back i ordered 1 not 2 and was charged for 2 this isnt the first time they did this

Ana says:

Last summer I went to Marshalls and bought some items. One of the items was a pair of shoes that I purchased for my niece. The whole time the cashier was checking me out she was looking at her cell phone which she had balanced on top of the register. I was with my sister at the time and we were chatting and not paying attention to what she was doing. When I got home I looked at the receipt and saw that she didn’t charge me for the shoes. Meanwhile, my niece didn’t like the shoes. The next day off I went all the way back to Marshalls (a 45 minute drive) to return the shoes and they didn’t want to take them back. I got the manager and she wanted to know if I wanted a store credit. I showed her the receipt and that the shoes were never paid for and she was at a loss at what to do. – Just take the damn shoes back Lady. She told me that taking back the shoes will screw up their inventory. I told her that finding there is one pair of shoes that wasn’t paid for will screw up her inventory too. Not wanting to get into a fight I told her to do whatever she wanted with the shoes and left the store. She then had the presence of mind to run after me to thank me for being honest.
Fast forward to a month ago. I made a beauty product online from a large retailer. They sent the order but part of the order was missing. I called up and they sent the part of the order that was missing but not the right item. They told me they would ship that missing item again and to keep the mistake. Yesterday, I received the whole complete original order. Customer service was outsourced to a country where I spent over a half hour just trying to understand them, and them me, the first time around. I have a feeling that if I call again to tell them of their error I’ll probably receive another full order. Now what do I do?

Maureen Faubion says:

I ordered a box of of crafts never received them plus on my credit card bill I was charged for 2 boxes & didn’t even get one
Who do I write to or talk to

Mars says:

You guys are all wrong. Return one of the items for a refund.
You got what you initially wanted for free.

Bwern says:

Hahaha ?

Brian says:

I ordered some custom t-shirts for a team, and they didn’t show up on time and I paid for rush shipping. All I wanted was a refund on the rush shippping, and in the reply from teh company they refunded me, but I missed the line where the agent said, “I’m sending a new order for you today and I hope they arrive on time.” OMG they did and I was so grateful, but then the original order arrived and we now have two each, and they order was valued about $400 USD. I feel really bad and don’t know what to do!

Another time I received some women’s fashion (coffee table big!) books from Amazon mailed to someone in Pakistan! Amazon told me to keep them.


How should I return the air fryer that is a duplicate order?

Phyllis says:

This just happened to me. I ordered and paid for an 80 dollar item online at Walmart. It was delayed but ok it was my Christmas gift from hubby .. when UPS delivered it they delivered 4 of same item. I called Walmart two times spoke to 2 different people . Neither ass9c8ste had a clue. Couldn’t speak English too well. Well next day i received another one same exact thing. So now I have 5 of same 80 dollar item. Taking up space. Excellent merchandise. What do I do? I called Walmart twice 9n this matter. Wow. No wonder thier prices are high.

Y says:

I had a company send me a doona bag in the wrong color. They said they’d send me a new one in the right color with a return shipping label for the original wrong one. I assumed correctly that if the person packing the first order carelessely messed up the color on the first order he would mistakenly miss putting the return label in the second order. What do you know, I was right! I nevertheless contacted the store (not such a big baby store) and asked if I could keep it being that it was their mistake (twice). The agent live chatted back that I could. The next day I received an email from another agent requesting the return of the item. I copied the saved chat and sent it to her. She responded that that agent had made a mistake and that I had to return it. I told her that I felt it was bad customer service but that I was willing to return it nevertheless as soon as I received a label. She promised to send out a label straight away and now, six months later, I am still not surprised that the label has not arrived…

Roxanne Morganstern says:

I’m going through something odd…I was sent a duplicate expensive leather jacket by a small Australian company. They claim they have no overseas DHL or other shipping account and they want ME to pay for return shipping to Australia! They want ME to front at least $60-$80 and they said they would reimburse me…but how do I know if they will? I told them they need to make it happen on their end, send me a shipping label, I am sure you can work it out. Still waiting. They offered a 10% coupon for a future order but guess what? 3 days gone by, no coupon.

Debora says:

This has happened to me twice. The first time it was 4 huge boxes with what looked like clothing samples. The company contacted me somehow and was very aggressive about their items being in my house. First, the items were left in the back yard. Second, they’re lucky I brought them into the house and safeguarded the stuff for them until they arrived. Never heard anything but seems they thought I was responsible.

About a month ago, I ordered 2 items, 4 came. I didn’t open any of them, knowing something wasn’t right. I finally recvd an email stating their mistake, that they were sending boxes and labels for me to return them. They’d already assumed I’d opened them. I didn’t even open the ones I legitimately bought because I was waiting to see what to do. I’ve been sick so I haven’t had a chance to return them but their arrogance is what is ticking me off. This company is fairly new but has taken off like a rocket and everyone would recognize.

Joseph Lindberg says:

I think they send you 2 on purpose sometimes especially when they know it’s a holiday weekend and you won’t be able to get in touch with them or the banks before it arrives Monday so the charge comes to your account over the weekend just to sell more products then tell you to either pay to return or figure you won’t go through the hassle and they probably make half as many more or almost double the sales that weekend. RIP off sales!

Jennifer says:

I am currently in this position myself. I got a duplicate shipment. I did contact the consultant to be sure I wasn’t double-charged of course. A couple of the items are even personalized. They are expecting me to ship it back and have sent me via email a return label. That requires me to print the label myself (I don’t currently have a working computer at my house), tape the box back up (also don’t currently have packing tape), then drop the rather large box off to a shipping center or call to arrange pickup. That’s a lot of work out of my day for a mistake I didn’t make. You’d think they’d tell me to at least keep my personalized items, but they didn’t. What would they do with them anyway?! I mean I can easily go to a friend’s to use their printer, but should I really have to? So frustrating!
I had another company do this to me a while back to. It was a small business so I contacted them. Same issue, only I was also to use my own packaging to return and they provided no incentive. Especially after I had to repeatedly tell them I hadn’t received the second half of my order. Could’ve at least given me a coupon for 15% off next order. Instead, nothing. I try to do the right thing, but really don’t think I should have to go out of my way for their mistakes.

Daar says:

I just had this same thing happen. I contacted the company and informed them. They seemed judgey and told me to return it ASAP ( within 30 days ) to not be charged accordingly. They told me to return it with the label i just worry now if i return it they will refund my card. I will come back and update.

Jennifer says:

I had this happen recently too! Why should I have to take my time and energy to do all this work for their mistake?! Can’t even send me a discount code for next time! ?

Ashley says:

I wasn’t going to be home to recieve a package because it was delayed. I called and they said they would have the package returned to sender and the items resent for a later date. When I got home after a long weekend the first package had been delivered. I checked the shipping and it showed it was returned to sender. The next day I recieved the 2nd shipment. It took me a week but I did the right thing and called the company. They sent me a shipment label to return the item. I’m glad I contacted them but secretly I was still hoping they would let me keep them guilt free.

Bob says:

Once I received the wrong item in my order. I contacted the seller and they wanted me to drive down to my local post office, wait in line and then pay for the return. Saying they will pay me back after the item was received. I asked them to send me a pre-paid shipping label for UPS, there’s a UPS store down the block from me with very short lines. The post office would have been a 30 minute wait and they are located 7 miles in heavy traffic. The seller refused then added the item to my credit card as a telephone purchase. I tried to stop payment with my credit card saying I didn’t authorize the purchase. The credit card company said that since I did receive the item, it needed to be returned. After speaking with a supervisor with my credit card they agreed that I need not pre-pay for the return and if the seller refuses to send a label so the USPS can pick it up or I can drop it off in a post office without waiting in line, I’m under no obligation to incur the financial burden of the return. I was then sued in small claims court, the seller didn’t show up, I got a default judgement that the seller contested with a lawyer.

Ty says:

The law states that you do not have to return an UNSOLICITED item. This is to protect you from unscrupulous people.

If however you ordered something, were billed for it and a second one arrived and you weren’t billed you need to make whoever sent it aware of the mistake. In some cases they may just let you keep it.

Hue Mungus says:

I would have kept the extra and got my money back for the original order

Anonymous Recipient says:

Yesterday I came home and was excited to see the box had arrived with an iPod Nano in it from a big retail store that I had ordered. I wondered why I had received a larger box for one small item. I opened it to find no packing slip and and a box of 6 iPod Nanos. I will call and tell them about their error on Monday. I was only charged for one. I assume whoever is filling orders didn’t know the boxes contain more than one in the warehouse and lots of people have been receiving many iPods from them. I guess legally if they are mailed to you they are yours. We’ll see what they say. If they say keep them, I’ll give some to the school to gift to kids who may appreciate them.

Jay says:

What’s the update? Did they replied back and instruct you to return the duplicate items? I just had the same experience today and trying to message the seller for sending me twice an item but paid only for once. I even received the box without wrap, invoice and packing slip. I just received a box with 2 its inside.

Lee Gordon says:

This happened to me too. I ordered on expensive item, and they sent four by mistake. They only charged me for one. Am I obligated to return them, or can I keep it as a free gift? Does anyone know about this for certain, who can post links to the relevant information. I’ve seen the FTC where it says if they send you merchandise you did not order, you can keep it as a free gift. What if they send you too many of an item you ordered?

Anonymous says:

What if a company repeatedly duplicated your online order, sent it to you, charged you, then you have to goo through the repeated hassle of returning an order? Can I challenge the second charge and keep the duplicate do they will finally turn s ticket into IT to fix the issue as I have repeat ly asked. My mailman said this has happened to his daughter as well.

Anonymous says:

anyone hear of Karma? what about the idea that someone cheated/stole/kept something they did not pay for. what about the conscious mind that says “I got 2 but paid for one”. the person knew they got 2 but paid for 1. that is lack of honesty. I wouldn’t want that on my mind. wonder how many other things the “dishonest person” is not talking about? Cheating on boyfriend/husband perhaps? I would have called the company or where I got the item from and asked them what to do. But – if they wanted it returned I’d have them pay shipping since it was their fault.

Anonymous says:

Sara I agree with what you said.
However for what its worth the law is clear I have no legal obligation to return it.
Plus the shipping fee to return would close to nullify any such good deed.

Anonymous says:

Just received a duplicate shipment of a $2500 item from a large company! As much as would love to keep it, I decided to be honest and let them know of their (big) mistake. Well, the customer service rep just made a return label and I wasn’t even thanked once.

Jennifer says:

That SUCKS! That’s the situation I’m in now! They just want me to take my time to print label, repack and drop huge box off at shipping center. Not my fault and not convenient either.

Anonymous says:

I would want to find out if it is an honest mistake or an intentional act. Sometimes companies don’t want the staff back anyway. The other day, I ordered a bathroom cabinet I found going cheap on e-bay. They sent me two. I called them and asked if they would collect it. They told me to keep it.

You have to think that it was you who made the mistake. For example, when I was working in a hotel a few years back, I forgot to charge the bar bill to the customers account. It was about $9 and not a big deal. I sent a letter to the customer asking the money because it was not my money to forget about it. They have not replied to may letter in anyway. I thought they cannot be nice people if they are happy to drink but not want to pay for it.

Anonymous says:

I’m a lawyer, but I have no idea what the law is on this topic (and it may vary by state) and I don’t think it matters.

You gotta do the right thing.

Once I received my order of cosmetics/bath products plus someone else’s (completely different stuff that I never would have ordered). I contacted the company and they told me to keep it. I think I still have it tucked away. Probably time to re-gift.

Donna Freedman says:

When all is said and done, what matters is whether you can live with what you did.
At one of the lowest points of my single-mom life a bank teller confused my transactions and in addition to transferring $40 from savings to checking also gave me $40 in cash.
Boy, did I need that money — I was working part-time and getting no child support. But I immediately said, “There’s been a mistake.”
Again: Couldn’t have lived with myself had I kept something that wasn’t mine.

Anonymous says:

I do know that it does vary by state. In my current state the items delivered are free to keep. The company can’t charge you nor can they even request them back. If you were to call and ask about returning it they can’t legally tell you anything other than they are your’s to keep. The last state i lived in was allowed to arrange for their return.

I’d expect the reason companies usually say the stuff is yours to keep is because it is easier to follow the most strict state’s laws than to track rules for different states and train customer service reps different depending on the state.

Anonymous says:

This happened to me recently. Except I had placed a small order for some supplies (which I received without incident) then a week later I received a big box full of other supplies (someone else’s order sent to me by mistake). I emailed the company, which I would describe as a medium sized company, not huge, but not small, and they had the nerve to ask me to drive the package to FedEx and mail it back to them. I told them I would not go that far out of my way to fix their mistake, and eventually they arrange for a FedEx truck to come to my house and pick up the package. No “thank you”, no discount or coupon, nothing. And this is a company that brags about their amazing customer service.

Donna Freedman says:

Well, shame on them. You tried to do the right thing and they expected you to go to the trouble of fixing their mistake.
While doing the right thing is its own reward, it’s nice to get a “thanks for being honest” or something like that.
And can you at least HINT at the name of the company??? Maybe tell us what it rhymes with…? 😉

Donna Freedman says:

Oh, and P.S.: It’s probably not too late to call the company and ask for a supervisor to whom to tell your tale. Possibly the customer service rep was new and just blurted out, “Can you just drive it to Fed Ex?” without thinking things through.
You’d be doing the company a favor, since this is the kind of thing that makes retailers tremble: an inexperienced CS rep ticking off a customer who sends the anecdote out on social media, making the company look dumb. You could be sure to say, “I think this could be a training issue,” vs. trying to get the CS rep in trouble with the boss.

Anonymous says:

It is a relatively small, specialized craft supply company. At the risk of sounding like a hipster, you’ve probably never heard of them 🙂 and will most likely have no occasion to buy from them.

I was put off by the situation, but not so put off that I wouldn’t buy from them again. I just found it very strange, and frankly poor business practice, to even suggest that I go out of my way to correct their mistake, and for nothing in return. But I agree with many other comments, it was more important for me to do the right thing and contact the company. And I would do it the same way again.

Anonymous says:

Just saw this post after experiencing the same issue with Amazon today. The representative I’m talking to is apparently going to mail me a shipping label and then I’m supposed to mail it back? I’m starting to wish I just kept my mouth shut.

Lee Gordon says:

This happened to me too. I ordered a product, and they sent four instead of one (expensive item). When I informed them, they gave me a quick “Thanks for contacting us”, then sent me a Fedex tracking number, and told me to take it to the nearest FedEx for return. These things were heavy too, and I’m handi-capped. It made me angry that they expected me to do $20 worth of work to ship it back to them (would have had to repack the heavy items, load them in my care, drive them to the nearest FedEx, then carry them in and go through their shipping process. They didn’t offer me any reward at all, as if I worked for them, and it was my job to fix their mistake. It made me so mad that I consulted the FTC site, that said if you get items you didn’t order, you can keep them as a free gift. When I informed them of my legal rights by email, they didn’t respond. When I called them on the phone, they wouldn’t acknowledge or deny my right to keep the items, and said they would “forward” the information. Then they hung up on me. If anyone knows exactly and definitely what your rights are in a case like this, where they sent you too many of an item you ordered, please let me know. I would have returned them if they offered to come and get them themselves, or some kind of reward, but because of how they responded, I would like to keep the items if it’s legal to do so. I don’t want to get in legal troubles, however. Anyone know about this?

Anonymous says:

A certain company with a bulls eye logo sent me a duplicate order of a Christmas gift. I did call the company to let them know (and make sure I wasn’t going to be charged)–the rep said I could return it “if I wanted” or keep it. Well, it was the holidays when the stores are crazy and everyone’s schedule is full, I felt I had done my due diligence… so my sister enjoyed two pairs of shoes that year!

Donna Freedman says:

I’d let the company know. If the stuff were expensive they’d likely send me a prepaid label to return it. What’s more likely is that they’ll say, “Ooops — free gift for you!”
I once ordered a few items on Amazon and somehow managed to get them delivered…to my daughter’s mother-in-law. D’oh! When I called to see how I might get the items re-sent correctly (picked up by Amazon driver? prepaid label mailed? and I was willing to pay for this), the Amazon rep said, “That’s OK, we’ll just resend another order to you.”
Of course, she also politely made it clear that this was a one-time thing and that I’d have to be more careful in the future. (Agreed.)

Anonymous says:

If you did not want the duplicate item, would you consider returning the original for a refund, essentially getting your original order for free? This seems like the least honest thing to do, but if you don’t need it, why keep it?

Anonymous says:

Thanks for including me! My follow up tweets explained I’d feel too guilty, if that makes me look less horrible. But my first reaction was definitely keep! Hehe.

Anonymous says:

I’d have to let the company know. There wouldn’t even be a moral option for anything else. I know myself well enough that if I kept it without saying anything, while guilt wouldn’t kill me per se, it would sort of nag at the back of my mind for the rest of my friggin life. I can think of a few ambiguous choices I’ve made in life and they bug me still–even though the majority of them happened when I was under 20 years-old.

Anonymous says:

I had this happen in a different form. This summer large internet company sent me a TV I had never ordered or paid for. I couldn’t handle the guilt and wrote them. They told me to keep it. I have to say though it is still sitting in it’s box in my living room.

Anonymous says:

This happened to me last December. It was the online presence of a physical retail chain, so I took them back to the store. The clerk did take them back but decided to credit me the purchase price. So instead of getting a double order for 50% free stuff (100% gain), I got a single order for 100% free stuff (infinite gain). I did not get the impression there was going to be any feedback to the website or online fulfillment, so in the end it was worse for the company that I tried to do the right thing. That said, I would do the same thing again.

Anonymous says:

Thanks for including me 🙂

This has only happened to me once in real life, and the company did first tell me they’d ship out a mailer to send it back (it was a couple shirts of value around $20), and when I got back in touch with them a month later to say that it never arrived, they told me to just keep it. I ended up gifting them to my brother-in-law.

I don’t think I’d personally make the distinction you did in letting the size of the company determine which action I was going to take. Getting in touch with the company and letting them fix their mistake is all about who I am, not who they are.