Charity shop returns £9k stuffed down the back of a sofa

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Staff at the Emmaus charity shop in Batford, Hertfordshire, returned an astonishing £9,000 to the owner of an old sofa who had donated it to the charity. They found the cash and contacted police - who tracked the owner down. They were rewarded with £500 for their honesty.

So is this the most unusual thing ever found by a charity shop?
Staff at the homeless charity told the Daily Mail that the cash was made up of £50 notes, which had been put in a drawstring bag and hidden in the sofa. The owner had apparently hidden the money down there and then forgotten it for the best part of a decade. The man, who is in his 70s, gave the charity £500 as a thank you.

The staff were concerned that it might be vital cash that someone would be lost without. One staff member told the St Albans Review: "With that kind of money we thought it must be somebody's deposit if they were moving house or it was an elderly person and it was their life savings. We decided to phone the police and let them deal with it."

However, they were happy with the donation even when they discovered it was from a wealthy man who had just forgotten about the surplus money.

Odd finds

It's not something your typical charity shop finds every day. However, it's not the first time this sort of thing has happened. In May 2011 a British Heart Foundation shop in Rugby found £1,300 stuffed down the back of a sofa. It was returned to the owner who donated £100 to the charity.

And there is no shortage of oddities donated.

PDSA recently revealed their most peculiar recent donations, including a suit of armour in Kilmarnock and an urn filled with ashes in Perth.

Emmaus in Gloucester compiled a similar list, which featured a coffin, a bag of human hair, a bird's nest and sacks of potatoes.

Oxfam in Bristol, meanwhile, discovered a hand grenade among one bag of donated items, and called the police. In the end the road was sealed off and the bomb squad was called.

10 consumer rights you should know
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Charity shop returns £9k stuffed down the back of a sofa

The law states that any goods you buy from a UK retailer should be of satisfactory quality, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable amount of time.

This applies even if you buy items in a sale or with a discount voucher. You may have to insist on these rights being respected, though.

Useful phrases to use when you want to show you mean business include, "according to the Sale of Goods Act 1979" and, if it's a service, "according to the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982".

Some shops will allow you to exchange goods without a receipt, but they can refuse to should they wish.

If the goods are faulty, however, another proof of purchase such as a bank statement should work just as well.

If you attempt to return goods within four weeks of the purchase, your chances of getting a full refund are much higher as you can argue that you have not "accepted" them.

After this point, you can only really expect an exchange, repair or part-refund.

The updated Consumer Credit Act states that card companies are jointly and severally liable for credit card purchases of between £100 and £60,260 (whether or not you paid just a deposit or the whole amount on your card).

Anyone spending between these amounts on their credit card is therefore protected if the retailer or service provider goes bust, their online shopping never arrives or the items in question are faulty or not as described.

Start by writing to the agency asking it to either remove or change the entry that you think is wrong. It will investigate the matter and find out whether you have been the victim of ID theft or a bank's mistake.

Within 28 days from receipt of your letter the agency should tell you how the bank has responded. If the bank agrees to change the entry, they will authorise the agency to update their records. They should also send updates to any other credit reference agencies they use.

You can also contact your lender directly to query a mistake. If the lender agrees to the discrepancy, ask them to confirm this in writing on their letterhead and send a copy to the agency, asking them to update your file.

The FOS settles disputes between financial companies such as banks and consumers.

If a financial organisation rejects a complaint you make about its services, you can therefore escalate that complaint to the FOS - as long as you have given the company in question at least eight weeks to respond.

The FOS will then investigate the case, and could force the company to offer you compensation should it see fit.

Bailiffs are allowed to take some of your belongings to sell on to cover certain debts, including unpaid Council Tax and parking fines.

They can, for example, take so-called luxury items such as TVs or games consoles. However, they cannot take essentials such as fridges or clothes.

What's more, they can only generally enter your home to take your stuff if you leave a door or window open or invite them in.

You are therefore within your rights to refuse them access and to ask for related documents such as proof of their identity. If they try to force their way in, you can also call the police to stop them.

Private sector debt collectors do not have the same powers as bailiffs, whatever they tell you.

They cannot, for example, enter your home and take your possessions in lieu of payment.

In fact, they can only write, phone, or visit your home to talk to you about paying back the debt. As with bailiffs, you can also call the police if you feel physically threatened.

Thanks to the Distance Selling Regulations, you actually have more rights buying online or by phone than on the High Street.

You can, for example, send most goods back within a week, for a full refund (including outward delivery costs), even if there's no fault.

You will usually need to pay for the return delivery, though. The seller must then refund you within 30 days.

We enter into contracts all the time, whether it be to join a gym, switch energy supplier or take out a loan.

In most cases, once you've signed a contract, you are legally bound by it. In some situations, however, you have the right to cancel it within a certain timeframe.

Credit agreements, for example, can be cancelled within 14 days. And online retailers must tell you about your cancellation rights for any contract made up to stand up legally.


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