Commissioner's Blog: Uncollected goods law review – have a say
With Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillard
Ever forgotten to pick up your clothes from the dry cleaner? Or maybe you’ve left your camping gear at a site and never bothered to make the trip back to collect it?
When consumers leave goods behind there are procedures that must be followed by traders to legally dispose of the items left in their possession. Consumer Protection is reviewing the Disposal of Uncollected Goods Act. And we want to hear your views on the methods and timing of disposal, as well as how proceeds should be distributed if a business ends up selling the uncollected items.
One of the reasons for the review is that the law dates back to 1970. The need for an update is highlighted when you look at the list of ‘prescribed goods’ in the Act – it specifies radiograms, typewriters, tape recorders and record players. The Act also says notices need to be posted, put in the Government Gazette and published in newspapers but nowadays we have the internet, email and mobile phones for communication.
Currently the law says ‘prescribed goods’ under $3,500 in value can be only disposed of at auction, even if they are worth very little or nothing at all. Goods valued at more than $3,500 – such as a car left with a mechanic or panel beater because the owner couldn’t afford the bill – require a court order before disposal.
In most cases, it can take six months before a business is free to discard goods and the cost of storage can be a burden. Timeframes are longer in WA than the rest of Australia and we think they are unrealistic. The review aims to make things easier for businesses that receive goods while maintaining appropriate levels of protection for the owners. Getting feedback will help us get the balance right.
If you have an interest in this topic, have a read of the issues paper at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consultations. Then put in a submission, or email your thoughts to email@example.com before 27 September 2019.
There separate laws in place to cover circumstances where a tenant vacating a rental home leaves furniture and other items, or when unsolicited goods are delivered to consumers. So these kinds of situations are NOT included in this review.