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    Former MSE Debs
    Real-life MMD: Whose lens is it anyway?
    • #1
    • 16th Nov 12, 10:53 AM
    Real-life MMD: Whose lens is it anyway? 16th Nov 12 at 10:53 AM
    Money Moral Dilemma: Whose lens is it anyway?

    Six months ago our flat received a parcel with no addressee's name. It turned out to be a camera lens worth 180 (according to eBay), so we thought the previous occupiers would collect it. We emailed the letting agent, but never got a reply. After so long, we're tempted to claim it, sell it, and give some of the money to charity, or would getting rid of it in any manner be morally wrong?

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    Last edited by Former MSE Debs; 20-11-2012 at 4:08 PM.
Page 2
    • Ebenezer_Screwj
    • By Ebenezer_Screwj 21st Nov 12, 10:56 AM
    • 352 Posts
    • 208 Thanks
    If there are no details of the sender either outside or inside the parcel then you have the same problem as the post office in identifying the rightful owner. I would keep it for a year then dispose of it as you please if it remains unclaimed, you are not a storage facility for a mis-delivered item with no name on it.
    • lika_86
    • By lika_86 21st Nov 12, 11:03 AM
    • 883 Posts
    • 3,427 Thanks
    You are in a bailment situation as an involuntary bailee. In order to dispose of the goods, the bailee must follow a statutory method set out in the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act. If the bailee is reasonably satisfied that the bailor owns the goods, then the bailee must serve the bailor with a written notice requiring the bailor to take delivery of the goods. Often this notice is combined with a notice stating that should the bailor fail to take delivery, then the bailee will sell the goods on or after a certain date. The date specified in the notice must give the bailor a reasonable length of time to take delivery of the goods. There is no guidance as to what is reasonable.

    Even where you sell the goods, the money is not just yours to keep.

    Unless you can show that the property has been abandoned of course (very difficult to prove).
    • adouglasmhor
    • By adouglasmhor 21st Nov 12, 11:08 AM
    • 14,618 Posts
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    It is absolutely NOT yours to sell!

    You should NOT have opened it and should have, straight away, taken it back to the post office with 'not known at this address' or 'return to sender' written on it.

    You are a thief by the mere act of opening someone else's mail and think how you would feel if this were your parcel.

    Originally posted by cwc1899
    It was addressed to their flat not a person, so stop being so judgemental and please apologise for calling them a thief.
    The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head. Terry Pratchett
    • Fujiko
    • By Fujiko 21st Nov 12, 12:13 PM
    • 133 Posts
    • 171 Thanks
    I think you are ok to sell it, but could have made more efforts than a single email to reunite it with it's proper owner.
    Originally posted by KxMx
    Since there was no addressee name, just a flat number it would be difficult to establish just who it was intended for and since you are the current occupant of the flat I would have thought you were quite entitled to open it. It does seem odd that such an expensive item should have been sent in this way with no indication of who it was intended for or where it came from. I'm not sure what the law says, but in the lack of recipient or sender details I would have thought it could be regarded as unsolicited mail which you should hold for six months and then, if unclaimed, it is yours to keep and dispose of as you see fit. Strange that the previous occupant of the flat, if that is indeed who it was intended for, has made no effort to find his missing goods.
  • A.Jones
    I find it hard to believe that neither the outside nor inside bore any contact details for the sender.
    Originally posted by alanq

    I don't. Many of the things I buy on ebay have no paperwork inside, and no return address on the packaging.
  • spidereyes
    Assuming all reasonable attempts to find out who it belonged to have been made then I personally don't see the problem in getting rid.

    It's happened to myself in the past where I've moved house and I've ordered something online and changed my address but somehow the parcel has turned up at my old place, I didn't realise and put in a claim for my missing item only for it to be bought round to my new house by a neighbour about a month later. Assuming something similar here the previous tenant thought it was sent to their new property I imagine they would have raised a claim with the seller for non-delivery.
    Have you tried speaking with the neighbours to see if they have a forwarding address?
    • LameWolf
    • By LameWolf 21st Nov 12, 12:53 PM
    • 8,135 Posts
    • 89,140 Thanks
    I find it hard to believe that neither the outside nor inside bore any contact details for the sender.
    Originally posted by alanq
    I don't. The last package I had through the post contained the CD I'd ordered, but had no return address on the outside or invoice inside; it's just the way that particular person (a folk musician) operates. He gets his money via Paypal, he sends the CD, end of story.

    However, along with others, I feel that one email that went unanswered isn't really much of an effort to trace the true owners of the camera lens.
    If your dog thinks you're the best, don't seek a second opinion.
    • pennypinchUK
    • By pennypinchUK 21st Nov 12, 1:37 PM
    • 382 Posts
    • 732 Thanks
    Seems you've taken reasonable steps to correct the error. Yes, treat it as one of life's upsides, make a contribution to charity and enjoy the proceeds guilt free.
  • pacemaker
    Camara lens
    I would have contacted ebay and asked them to email the person involved whose lens it was to tell them that you had their package at their previous address. If no luck after that? then maybe keep it or talk to the letting agent again as they have a Duty of care to the previous tenant.
    Last edited by pacemaker; 21-11-2012 at 2:08 PM. Reason: spellings
  • Cabbagewhite
    Opening mail not addressed to you is a criminal offence. When we receive post addressed to the previous occupiers and other random people I always mark as not known at this address please return to sender and let Royal Mail sort it out. Having just re-read the dilemma, it is not clear where this parcel came from, nor who delivered it. If it was me, I would contact the letting agent again and ask them if they had any luck contacting the previous occupants and the outcome. I would also check with my neighbours, in case the parcel had the number mis-typed. I'd even check in neighbouring buildings if they had similar addresses (e.g. flat 6, 24 High Street and flat 6, 26 High Street).

    I think you need to make more effort before you consider selling it. Otherwise if it is ever traced back to you, you will have to make good. A couple of years ago my daughter found a gold ring when she attended the Remembrance Day service at the local town's Cenotaph. I took it to the local jeweller so that I had a proper description. It was not of great value, but it was very unusual in both the style, type of gold, where it was hallmarked as coming from and gems used. I put notices in the local papers and took it to the Police station. It wasn't claimed after 90 days, so it was given back to us BUT I had to sign a form to say that I would not dispose of it and would produce it if the owner ever came forward. Ironically if I hadn't gone back for it within 7 days, the Police would have sold it at auction. So we still have it.

    I receive lots of parcels from a mixture of private sellers and businesses. I would estimate that only about 60-70% have any invoice or documentation in, even less have a return address on the outside of the packaging. I also have parcels left on the doorstep by couriers and I wouldn't know which courier had left it without contacting the sender. So I can well believe that you have little to work with.

    You need to make substantially more of an effort to trace either the correct recipient or the sender. If you are then still unable to trace either, I would then donate to a charity, but I would make sure the Manager was aware of the value, so it doesn't end up in the shop priced at 5. Or I would sell it to a photography shop and donate the entire proceeds to a charity and make sure I kept the receipts. If someone does turn up at a later date to claim it, this can be mitigated by a reasonable weekly storage charge.
    • adouglasmhor
    • By adouglasmhor 21st Nov 12, 3:32 PM
    • 14,618 Posts
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    Opening mail not addressed to you is a criminal offence.
    Originally posted by Cabbagewhite
    Opening mail addressed to someone else may be a criminal offence, but that is not what happened here. It was addressed to OPs flat with no name at all.
    The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head. Terry Pratchett
    • rinabean
    • By rinabean 21st Nov 12, 3:37 PM
    • 345 Posts
    • 1,036 Thanks
    Maybe I'm just old-fashioned but if you put something through my door and you don't come looking for it in 6 months I'm not looking for you myself. I'm neither a postwoman nor a detective. Don't put catalogues through my door, don't put parcels through my door that aren't for me. Mistakes happen, but if you've made a mistake, or someone you're paying has made a mistake, I'm not going to go to any more trouble than a quick email and asking the immediate neighbours. It's not my parcel! It'd be different if it were sentimental, but it's just an object. If they want it, they literally know where you live, which is more than you know about them.

    If someone puts something into your house and doesn't give you any means of giving it back how on earth does that make you a thief? You literally didn't do anything at all. You can't steal something you were given, especially if you tried to give it back. Some people really don't know what stealing means.
  • alwayswrite
    Let me put it this way.....would you like someone to do this to you??? and I also think that your proposal to give some of the money you get for the lens to charity is a load of rubbish....who do you think you are kidding.......NO you do not sell it and if it makes you feel better pass it to the police and tell them you have made EVERY effort to find the true owner and if no-one claims it then in three months you can claim it as your own..........I'm pretty sure that is how it works...All I can suggest now is that you examine your own consciences and I'm sure you're not nasty people maybe just hard up.
    Sell it.
    I used to live in Blackpool at an address that was the same as one in Carleton (1 mile away) and another with the same address at Cleveleys (4 miles away.)
    In the years that I lived at that address we had, amongst other than wrongly addressed letters, new dustbins delivered, flowers, colectors for bus fare dogers, police looking for someone who gave our address, ambulance, and lots of other things.
    Most of the problems arose because of the wrong post code either being given or a fictitious address being given by somebody.
    I even had mail from debt collectors for somebody else but with my address and post code on them.
    Electricity bills for somebody else but with my address and post code on them.
    Even money put through the door in an envelope that was meant for the address in Carleton.

    No I didnt keep it.

    But I eventually did get fed up of trying to sort out other peoples mistakes.

    My answer is if you have held onto it for 6 months and no one has contacted you, -it's yours.

    You should not have to sort out a problem that was not caused by anything that you did.
  • raddyantic
    From what I remember from my police days...
    Firstly if you find something you may agree to hold on to the property on the understanding that if the owner comes forward you must relinquish it.

    As you have held on to it for some time now and the owner has not come forward you you should now hand it in at your local police station. You will be given a form that entitles you to collect it after 28 days if the owner does come forward. Then you may legally do as you wish with the item.

    If you just go ahead and sell the item and the original owner comes forward then the new 'owner' of the item could be charged with having an item in their posession with has been taken without consent (TWOC).
    • Amalea
    • By Amalea 21st Nov 12, 4:58 PM
    • 253 Posts
    • 129 Thanks
    A lot of people state it is always illegal to open mail addressed to someone else. This is not actually what is stated in the Postal Services Act.


    84 Interfering with the mail: general.

    (3)A person commits an offence if, intending to act to a persons detriment and without reasonable excuse, he opens a postal packet which he knows or reasonably suspects has been incorrectly delivered to him.

    So, if you are not acting in a "person's detriment" and have "reasonable excuse", for which there doesn't appear to be a definition of what qualifies under that description, then it isn't illegal.
    Out of my mind. Back in 5 minutes.
  • Sambucus Nigra
    Opening mail not addressed to you is a criminal offence.
    Originally posted by Cabbagewhite
    A - no it isn't
    B - the actual issue is that it had no name on it.

    But don't let actual facts get in the way, eh?
    If you haven't got it - please don't flaunt it. TIA.
  • Jay1b
    I've always thought there are a lot of judgemental people on here. Though I'd imagine how many of them would be quite so honest if they were the ones to benefit from it.

    I don't think you should sell it straight away. Especially as you've already contacted them, what would you do if they turned up with a printout of their email and you've already sold it? Probably for a far bit less than they paid for it?

    You could always take it down the police station, hand it in to lost and found. If its not claimed in 3 or 6 (can't remember) months then its yours legally. In the meantime if you are contacted then point them in the right direction, if you're not - then you've given them sufficient chance to chase it through.
    Last edited by Jay1b; 21-11-2012 at 7:02 PM.
    A bargain is only a bargain if you would have brought it anyway!
  • Jay1b
    A - no it isn't
    B - the actual issue is that it had no name on it.

    But don't let actual facts get in the way, eh?
    Originally posted by Sambucus Nigra
    I've just brought a repossessed property and getting letters addressed to the previous owners. After researching this, it is an offence to open mail addressed to them - but not if its just addressed to the occupier or the house name.

    However as it had no name on it, then they're quite rightly allowed to open it.
    A bargain is only a bargain if you would have brought it anyway!
    • tallgirld
    • By tallgirld 21st Nov 12, 7:19 PM
    • 416 Posts
    • 250 Thanks
    Addressed to no one.....No forwarding address.......

    Already waited 6 months.......Wait another 6 months

    No response after that......... KEEP IT
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