Handling a “window” envelope

What should you do when you receive a “window” envelope that shows a return address you do not recognise.

The worst offenders are local councils and other fake government agencies that send you demands for money anonymously.

When the return address is shown as a PO Box without a name you are not obliged to open it.

In fact, if you do open it you could be committing yourself to a contract you know nothing about. This is how these agencies that issue their unlawful fines try to trick you into accepting their offer to contract with you. Under the law, once you open the envelope you are deemed to have accepted their offer to contract with you. Beware!

If you are in doubt, don’t open the envelope. You are within your rights to return it. Instead, mark it, “Addressee Unknown. Return to sender”. This doesn’t say which addressee, so you have a perfect right to return it if you don’t know the return addressee.

This video explains. The Postal Laws the video refers to apply to all nations, including Australia.

Australia Post Terms and Conditions state when and why we can return mail.

25 Refused articles

25.1 Where in the reasonable opinion of Australia Post an addressee has declined to accept delivery of an article or where an article has been placed in a box or bag in which the addressee usually receives articles and is subsequently returned to Australia Post endorsed with an indication that the addressee has declined to accept delivery of the article, the article shall be deemed to be refused by its addressee.

26 Method of dealing with unclaimed etc. articles

26.1 Subject to clauses 26.3 and 28, where an article is unclaimed, refused by, or undeliverable to, its addressee, the article shall:
26.1.1 if it has a return address be delivered to that address;
26.1.2 if it has no return address and it has been opened pursuant to the Act; and
(i) if, in the reasonable opinion of Australia Post, the correct address of the addressee of the article has been ascertained – be delivered to that address; or
(ii) if the correct address of the addressee has not been so ascertained, but the address of the sender has been ascertained – be returned to the sender; and
26.1.3 in any other case – be treated as an undeliverable article and dealt with in accordance with clause 27.
26.2 Where delivery of an article is attempted pursuant to clause 26.1 and the article is unclaimed or refused by, or undeliverable to, the person to whom it is so directed, it shall be treated as an undeliverable article and dealt with in accordance with clause 27.
26.3 Where a parcel post article, an express post container or an express post parcel is returned to its sender pursuant to this clause and its return entails its carriage from the office at which it was held for delivery to another office, postage is payable on that carriage as if it were an original carriage between the office at which it was held for delivery and the return address of the sender.

27 Disposal of undeliverable articles

27.1 An undeliverable article may be disposed of by Australia Post as follows:
27.1.1 in compliance with any court order;
27.1.2 if the carriage of the article is prohibited and the article and its contents have been forfeited to the Commonwealth under the Act, and/or if the article constitutes, or is reasonably believed to constitute, evidence of a criminal offence, by providing the article to the appropriate police force, customs service, prosecuting authority or commission of inquiry, as the case may be, provided, however, that nothing requires Australia Post to so provide the article where in Australia Post’s reasonable opinion the article will not be accepted; or
27.1.3 if the article is not disposed of in accordance with clauses 27.1.1 or 27.1.2 , then the article may be sold, destroyed or otherwise disposed of, in such a manner as Australia Post deems fit. If the article is sold, the sale proceeds, less any costs incurred by Australia Post associated with the sale, shall be paid either into Australia Post’s Unclaimed Money Fund or to such charitable fund as Australia Post may select at its absolute discretion, including a charitable fund established by Australia Post or a Related Body Corporate of Australia Post.

AusPost dictionary of terms defines “person” as:

person means a legal person and includes a body politic or corporate as well as an individual

Conclusion: Therefore, whenever you receive any mail you do not want to receive you have a legal right to return it unopened. It is up to the sender, then, to find another way to try and contract with you.

Don’t let the Postie bring you trouble you didn’t ask for. If he/she delivers a letter from an address you don’t recognize, return it. If they cannot reach you they cannot contract with you.

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