What Happens If Your Online Order Cosmetics Order Contains Something You Didn’t Order?

If you’re an online shopping devotee, you’ve probably, at some point, had a mistake happen. Usually, the mistakes are not in your favor. A missing mascara here, an incorrect color of foundation there… I’ve even gotten Amazon.com packages that have just been empty padded envelopes.

Every so often, though, you hit the online shopping jackpot and get sent an extra product that you didn’t pay for. It’s happened to me just a few times. For example, theBalm once sent me an extra TimeBomb concealer. Pop Beauty sent me an extra of what seriously must be the worst eyeliner ever made. The question is: what is your legal responsibility when things like that occur?

These are the worst, but at least one was free.
(I always look super awesome when lounging around the house, as evidenced by this photograph.)

The question might please any of you who have kept your extra product as a bonus and then been plagued with feelings of guilt. (Trust me, I know how you feel. When I was in fourth grade, I ate a bag of Sun Chips that was left in the lunch bin after class and have felt deep, Sun Chip-related self-condemnation ever since.) Legally, that extra item belongs to you.It actually violates federal law for a company to require you to pay for an item or ship back an item that you did not order. You have no legal obligation to do anything; you don’t even have to tell the seller. As the Federal Trade Commission puts it, “If you receive merchandise that you didn’t order, you have a legal right to keep it as a free gift.” (For those of you who are particularly awesome and kindly human beings, of course, you can contact the seller and have them pay for return shipping.)


1. Amen! I once got one of those crazy Time-Life books in the mail (about the pyramids and the Bermuda triangle and stuff) and then a series of threatening letters about how much I owed them for it! I was like, I owe you nothing, crazy people.


2. Yup! Super illegal!

3. Phew! I can finally sleep at night after getting that extra deodorant from drugstore.com.

4. I hope you haven’t been crying over it for too many years.

5. About 2 years also Ulta sent me an extra nail polish. I had felt so guilty about it at the time! I am so glad that keeping it wasn’t illegal!