Can I refuse to receive a package?
November 6, 2013 9:07 PM   Subscribe

Somebody is sending me a package which I DO NOT WANT, and when it shows up as Delivered by the carrier, they will attempt to invoice me and charge me for it. I DO NOT WANT this item, and I would like for the carrier to NOT DELIVER it.

I do not know if it will come by UPS, or by USPS.

Can I leave giant signs at my front door which say "UPS/USPS: DO NOT DELIVER. RETURN TO SENDER. PACKAGE NOT ACCEPTED"? How can I stop an unwanted package from being delivered to my door?

What can you do to your home so that packages and parcels are not accepted, and instead get returned to the sender?
posted by shipbreaker to Work & Money (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You might have a better chance at leaving a notice on the door that says "Please do not leave packages unattended." If they make enough delivery attempts it will be returned to sender.

However if this person is persistent enough, you may want a contingency plan for in case they try to deliver to your work something like that!
posted by radioamy at 9:16 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can absolutely refuse mail sent via the USPS, even after delivery, but they won't return certain types of mail unless you pay the postage. Details are here.

For UPS, it's a little less clear. If you have a tracking number, UPS allows you to select "return to sender" as a delivery option when you look up the shipment details. If not, it's apparently not that hard to refuse a UPS shipment. I can't find official instructions on their website, but there's language here ("Packages refused by consignees or which for any other reason cannot be delivered will be promptly returned to the shipper without additional charge") which indicates that it's possible.
posted by pullayup at 9:20 PM on November 6, 2013

Yes, it should be possible to Refuse Delivery.

When the package is delivered, be home. Tell the delivery person that you Refuse Delivery, and do not under any circumstances accept the package.

A note about this: sometimes delivery people can be really obstinate about this. My office once received a package by mistake, had no success in figuring out where it was really supposed to go, so we tried to return it to the nearest FedEx, saying that we didn't want it, didn't care what they did with it, didn't want to pay to return it, JUST GET IT OUT OF OUR LIVES. The FedEx people were really not enthused about this, at all.

No matter what service we're talking about, they almost certainly won't return the package to sender.
posted by Sara C. at 10:15 PM on November 6, 2013

Point of clarification. Why would delivery of a package allow a person to invoice and charge you? Why do you think preventing delivery would resolve this issue?

If this is too embarrassing to discuss publicly, why don't you call your credit card company and talk to them about disputing transactions? Normally a transaction has to post but then it can be disputed. But it sounds like its posting is already out of your control anyway.
posted by phaedon at 10:48 PM on November 6, 2013

Also, the US Code, "Title 39 USC § 3009 - Mailing of unordered merchandise" states that merchandise that is mailed to you without permission is yours to keep or toss at no charge to you.
I have occasionally been a bit proactive and emailed specific vendors to notify them that we have not ordered anything from them and we will NOT return any unsolicited material. Then I cite the law. This has helped.

If you do leave a sign on your front door, I would probably state which packages you are not accepting-- "Packages from BBC Enterprise are NOT accepted--return to sender"
or just don't be home to sign [maybe tell neighbors not to sign either] and then deal with it according to the slip that is left for you.

Worst case---Don't open it; cross out your name/address; write RETURN TO SENDER/DELIVERY REFUSED and put it right back in a mailbox or collection box.
posted by calgirl at 11:22 PM on November 6, 2013 [17 favorites]

Yes, you definately CAN reject it: calgirl has it, write "Return to Sender/Delivery Refused" on it, cross out your name with a single slash (not blacking-out completely) then send it back. Do NOT open it, just return it as-is.

If it makes you feel better: this has happened to me, on a larger scale. Someone (I'm pretty sure who: the family of a couple kids I literally caught red-handed spraypainting graffiti) signed me up for about twenty magazines and a variety of other merchandise, like every 'collectable' decorative plate advertised in places like Parade Magazine.

All the magazines were ordered "send now/bill me later": those were a *little* harder, because I chose to phone most of them as well as turning them down with the invoices' checkboxes. The collectibles, the decorative statuettes and commorative coins and inspirational plaques and overpriced dolls and ceramic versions of Thomas Kinkade stuff and anything ever made by Franklin Mint, I just tagged as 'Return to Sender/Delivery Refused' and sent it all back. In my case, because there was just so MUCH stuff going on with the graffiti artists' family, I also decided to play it safe and had all my real mail redirected to a post office box for a year or so, but for just one package that's probably overkill.

tl;dr: Yes, you totally can reject it; just send it back unopened.
posted by easily confused at 2:29 AM on November 7, 2013

If you are forced to send it back, snap a few pictures of it to document that you sent it back.
posted by Tehhund at 4:59 AM on November 7, 2013

Big, vicious dog, chained to the front door or just a big sign at the front door saying "No Package Deliveries Accepted". They will most likely leave a slip at the door. Do with that what you will.
posted by JJ86 at 6:54 AM on November 7, 2013

Calgirl is right as long as it's sent USPS. Leave it unopened and write "delivery refused" on it.

If it's sent by a private carrier, it's not that simple. Best would be to intercept the driver and refuse delivery on the spot (which could be a problem if they usually drop stuff at your door). I have no idea what their policies are for declining delivery after the fact—might be worth it to call UPS and find out what the procedure is.
posted by adamrice at 8:14 AM on November 7, 2013

They will most likely leave a slip at the door. Do with that what you will.

As someone with an opposite problem (trying to get people to leave packages when I am not there) be careful about just ignoring slips/deliveries/etc. Everyone's advice about returning the package is good but if you pretend like you didn't get it, that may mark your address as a place that, in the future will require signatures for delivery no matter what. You see this sometimes in neighborhoods that have had a lot of package theft or other issues. If you are interested in not having this happen to you, do not do the "Oh maybe it was never delivered" gambit because that can be costly in the long run.
posted by jessamyn at 8:19 AM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is a little hard to answer without knowing if you do not want to acknowledge receipt of the package or if you do not want the contents of the package. If the package is left without a signature you can always claim to the shipper that you never received it and that you do not want it and just leave it at your door. In the course of their investigation, they should attempt to locate / retrieve the package from where it was delivered (your door). They do this, take the package from your door, and boom, done. IF this is something that you can't even have left at your door, then I think you need to try to anticipate delivery and be home so you can refuse in person.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:22 AM on November 7, 2013

If it's sent by USPS, this is easy:

1. Do NOT under any circumstances open the package.
2. Clearly write REFUSED on the part of the package that has your address and postage. "Return to Sender" is optional, but helps.
3. Leave the package in or near your mailbox or take it to the Post Office. It will be picked up the next day.

If it's sent UPS or FedEx, I have no idea.
posted by tckma at 11:09 AM on November 7, 2013

I tried to not get a package by UPS recently (I canceled an order that supposedly hadn't shipped much for that) and that was literally the ONLY time they have left me a package with no obnoxious delivery slip complaining that I need to be home before they give me the package.

Leaving UPS notes does you no good: as far as I can tell, their policy is to avoid all notes unless you have paid them. You actually have to pay them $40 for the ability to tell them where to leave a package (no joke). I honestly don't think you can count on UPS to obey anything you want.

Your best odds there are to not be home and have them leave you a bunch of notes, and then never pick it up, and then they supposedly ship it back to where it came from--or at least that's what they always threaten me with if I can't cut work to wait for them all day. But who knows? The time before this, they left my package at the post office and never bothered to even leave a note about it. UPS is an evil force beyond our control.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:41 PM on November 7, 2013

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