As a business owner, there might be times when you have uncollected goods from your customers sitting on your premises.

This might include furniture or equipment left behind in a space, or something your customer never came back to collect, such as a watch or even a car left for repairs which turned out to be more than the value of the item itself.

Things left behind by your customers can use up your time, energy and space - so it’s important to know the steps you need to take to handle uncollected goods. Here are three things you can do, starting today.

1. Know your rights

If you have uncollected goods at your business premises, you might like to start by exploring the Disposal of Uncollected Goods Act 1970. This outlines the definition of uncollected goods and the disposal process involved, which depends on the type and value of the goods involved.

It’s also worth reading Consumer Protection’s advice on disposal of uncollected goods. If your customer doesn’t collect the goods after you have followed the process involved, you might be able to sell or dispose of the goods, again depending on the process and the goods involved.

2. Be patient

It can take time to get in touch with a customer - and, in some cases, it can take months to handle uncollected goods properly.

Outlined in the Disposal of Uncollected Goods Act 1970 is Form 1, which is a ‘Notice that goods are ready for redelivery’. This is a form you can complete and send to the person who has left the goods on your premises to officially let them know they need to take action in line with the Act.

When your customer receives this form, they will then have three months to either collect the goods from you or lodge a ‘notice of dispute’ with you. If they don’t do either of these, you can then complete Form 2, which is a ‘Notice of intention to sell or otherwise dispose of goods’ to send to your customer and anybody else involved. You then need to wait for another month to pass before you can take the next steps.

During this process, it’s important to keep open lines of communication. If your customer sends you a ‘notice of dispute’ at any point, you can’t then sell or dispose of their goods and may need to get further advice.

3. Keep calm and get it in writing

While it can be frustrating to be left with uncollected goods, it’s also a situation worth handling with care to keep your customer relationships as positive as possible. Your customer may have a good reason behind why they haven’t collected what they have left behind, such as a change in circumstances, location or contact details. It’s important to stay calm, act in a professional manner and try to see things from their perspective.

If you have a phone conversation with your customer about uncollected goods, try to follow up with a letter or email to them, confirming what you discussed and any next steps or forms involved. In business, it’s worth getting everything in writing to be clear, save time and prevent any misunderstandings in the future.

Also keep a record of which forms and communications you have sent to your customer, along with the date and proof of delivery, if you have it.

More information

If you need help with an issue in your business, including how to handle uncollected goods, you might like to get in touch with our free business advisory service.

Legal and risk
13 July 2021