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Uncollected goods (including vehicles)
‘Uncollected goods’ are items that a consumer has temporarily left with a business, but:
- has not returned to claim or collect
- has not told the business what to do with
- cannot be contacted about, or
- has not paid the business, within a reasonable time, any costs associated with keeping - also known as ‘the relevant charge’. For more information, view our Relevant charge page.
- A towing business picks up a damaged vehicle, but is not told by the owner what to do with it.
- A motor mechanic is asked to repair a car, but the owner never returns to pick it up and pay for any work done.
- Clothes left for dry-cleaning that are never collected.
- A landlord of a shop is left with perishable food after the shop’s tenant leaves.
- Holidaymakers in a caravan park leave without taking their camp stove.
- A guest does not return to collect belongings left in a hotel’s ‘lost and found’.
Goods are not ‘uncollected’ if a business:
- refuses to return or deliver them; or
- prevents the person who left them with the business from collecting or reclaiming them.
Requirements for dealing with uncollected goods do not apply to:
Other exemptions apply. For more information, view Part 4.2 of the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012.
A business must:
- notify the owner if the business intends to dispose of their uncollected goods
- hold the goods for a certain time before disposing of them, depending on the nature of the goods (for example, there are different rules for perishable goods and motor vehicles).
For more information about this, view our Disposing of uncollected goods section.
Stopping a business disposing of goods
Consumers can prevent disposal of their goods by:
- paying the relevant charge and collecting them
- making arrangements for their delivery
- applying to a court or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to resolve a dispute with the business holding them.
When a business sells uncollected goods
Any money left over after the business sells the uncollected goods or vehicle, and pays the relevant charge and disposal costs, is ‘unclaimed money’.
They must handle it according to rules set by the Unclaimed Money Act 2008. For more information, visit the Unclaimed money page on the State Revenue Office website.
Buying uncollected goods – ‘clear title’
If you buy goods sold under uncollected goods laws, you have ‘clear title’ to them. This means you own the goods - provided that when you bought them, you were not aware of any:
- failure by the seller to comply with uncollected goods laws
- problem with the original owner’s title to the goods.
‘Clear title’ also means that the previous owner can no longer claim the goods or ask you to pay any money to be entitled to keep them.
If you believe goods in your possession may have been stolen, contact your local police station. You can find their address and phone number on the Victoria Police website.
If you are having a dispute with the store or seller about a problem with a product, view our Resolve your problem or complaint page.
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