Many businesses (such as those offering repair or cleaning services) hold goods for an owner that will be collected once work on the item is complete. Goods become ‘uncollected’ if the owner does return to collect the item and pay for these services.
While businesses may have limited capacity to store uncollected goods, goods that remain uncollected cannot just be thrown out or sold, especially if the item is valuable. There are legal procedures for the management and disposal of uncollected goods, including:
- A standard Goods Disposal Notice a business must send to the owner.
- Decide into which Value Category the uncollected goods belong.
- Special requirements for the disposal of uncollected motor vehicles.
- A fast track process for the disposal of perishable items.
Businesses must make sure they comply with these procedures to protect themselves from legal action should the customer return in the future for the item.
Goods are considered uncollected when the consumer:
- has not returned to claim or collect them
- has not left an instruction with the business what to do with the goods
- cannot be located or contacted
- has not paid the business within a reasonable time after being informed that the goods are ready to be collected.
- A business must attempt to contact you before they dispose of your goods
- A Goods Disposal notice in writing must have been sent to you if the business has your contact details
- A business must not refuse to return or deliver your goods if you are willing to pay the businesses’ relevant charges in full.
Disposal of Uncollected Goods Act Information Kit:
- Disposing of uncollected goods guide (PDF, 497.2 KB)
- Uncollected motor vehicles – Guide with examples of Sales Receipt and Disposal Record (PDF, 675.4 KB)
- Goods Disposal Notice (DOCX, 15.4 KB) that is sent to the owner
- Record of the goods that have been disposed of (DOCX, 16.6 KB)
- Disposal of uncollected motor vehicle record and receipt template (DOCX, 14.1 KB)
- Link to the Disposal of Uncollected Goods Act 2020
Penalties apply to businesses when they do not comply with the procedures and category values for general goods and cars. Penalties apply when there is a failure to:
- Conduct a search for secured finance interests, before disposal of high-value motor vehicles (valued at $5,000 or more).
- To give the purchaser of a motor vehicle a receipt containing specific information.
- Keep records of all the goods that have been disposed of.
Value categories and sentimental items
- Decide into which Value Category goods belong, businesses are to assess the value of the goods left with them. They are required by law to do so in good faith and must not undervalue them to dispose of them sooner.
- Market values cannot, unfortunately, account for the sentimental value of goods to some customers. Businesses are expected to use common sense and sensitivity when holding or disposing of goods that seem likely to be of sentimental value (e.g. an antique ring, vintage car, wedding dress etc.).
- Businesses are encouraged to store the item or, if possible, try and seek out someone with a personal interest in the item before seeking to dispose of it at auction or through a private sale.