A company that collects undelivered parcels in France, and re-sells them at just €14 per kilogram, is seeing a boom in business before Christmas.
However, there is a catch – the buyers do not know what is inside the parcels.
The Destock Colis company purchases undelivered parcels left in private company warehouses – where the expected recipients have taken too long to collect them – and place them on sale for the wider public in jumble sale-style events.
The company is selling seven tonnes of parcels this year, and some people are queuing for up to an hour in order to have the first pick on the parcels they buy.
Anti-waste law prevents destruction
The company buys parcels that were unable to be delivered and subsequently not collected from private distributors in bulk.
Whereas parcels sent from private individuals will usually have a return of address in the case of non-delivery, this is not always possible for purchases from larger companies, who sometimes cannot accept the products back.
The ‘ownership’ of the parcels then belongs to the logistics companies, however as they are distributors and not sellers, they often are left with a rising stock of parcels.
In the past, they were destroyed, but now anti-waste laws in France prevent this, meaning they often remain in company warehouses.
To note, this only affects parcels where the recipient has made no effort to attempt to collect the package, or where address issues have prevented delivery of the item.
In rare cases, the death of a recipient before the parcel arrived is the cause for them returning to the warehouse and not being picked up.
In situations where a package is not delivered or lost but the buyer is actively chasing after the parcel, they will still be reimbursed from the seller (but not the logistics company).
Game of chance on what is inside parcels
Neither Destock Colis nor the package buyers know what is inside and the goods remain sealed and in their boxes.
The only rule is that the parcels are sold by weight – people can opt to buy as many parcels as they want, if they believe they are in with a shot of finding something useful.
“We try to guess what's inside by weight and noise,” said one person at a Destock Colis sale to FranceInfo.
There is the chance to get incredibly lucky, finding video game consoles, cooking equipment, electronics and other such goods.
However, there is also the chance of finding relatively drab items – after all, the original recipients made no attempt to come and collect the package.
La Poste holds charity sale
National postal service La Poste also sells uncollected parcels that cannot be returned to the original sender.
However, it organises an auction of goods, opened and removed from their packaging, instead of selling the ‘mystery’ boxes like Destock Colis.
In addition, the service donates the money to charity – this year, proceeds from the auction will go to the Association des Familles d’Enfants Handicapés (Association for families of disabled children).
This year’s auction is being held at the l’Hôtel des ventes in Nantes on December 1 – however, you can bid for items online if you sign up through the event website.
Organisers do state that bids from the auction room itself will take priority, and that the action will be more “fast-paced” there.