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I saw a similar question on here so I decided to ask my question.

I bought a mattress from a company approximately 120 days ago...

I used Affirm, basically a third party loan company approved by the mattress company to make my purchase. The company had a 120 try out period within which time I decided to return said mattress. The day after I notified the mattress company the mattress was picked up, Affirm contacted me that my loan with them was cancelled and they quickly refunded me the 2-3 payments I made them straight to my checking account (minus their interest).

A day or so later I get an email from the mattress company where the rep informs me that they will need to issue me a paper check for the full amount and that I would have to contact Affirm to stop charging me. To which I rapidly answered "Please confirm that with Affirm prior to mailing anything out. On my end the loan was cancelled." To which the rep replied "confirmed. It has been cancelled."

One week later I get a paper check from the mattress company for the full amount. I deposited it right away and will move to savings. I emailed the mattress company rep i previously asked to confirm before mailing anything that I am confirming receipt and deposit of the check. I haven't gotten a reply.

Question: at what point, if any, am I free to use this money? I was planning to just let it sit there until the shoe drops and just returning. But for how long is too long? Thanks

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    If you knew it was refund money that was sent in error, why did you deposit it right away? You could have just kept the check, contacted the mattress company and told them to void it and shredded it. – BobbyScon Dec 16 '16 at 1:39
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Question: at what point, if any, am i free to use this money?

Never. It's not your money.

  • To add to this- it legally never becomes yours. After a period of time it becomes unclaimed or abandoned at which point you're supposed to turn it over to the state's custody. Depending on your local laws, it stays there until claimed (potentially forever), or after a long period of time it becomes property of the state. It never becomes your property, legally, without the consent of the previous owner. – David Dec 18 '16 at 7:34
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A day or so later I get an email from the mattress company where the rep informs me that they will need to issue me a paper check for the full amount and that I would have to contact Affirm to stop charging me. To which I rapidly answered "Please confirm that with Affirm prior to mailing anything out. On my end the loan was cancelled." To which the rep replied "confirmed. It has been cancelled."

I think your communication could have been more explicit mentioning that not only was the loan cancelled, you got your initial payments. You have not paid for the mattress. The refund if any should go to Affirm. The Rep has only confirmed that loan has been cancelled.

at what point, if any, am i free to use this money? I was planning to just let it sit there until the shoe drops and just returning. But for how long is too long?

Sooner or later the error would get realized and you would have to pay this back.

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You get to keep the money if, and only if, you confirm with both parties (the loan and the mattress companies) that you received a refund twice, and both parties agree that they know that with no miscommunication, and they both agree to let you keep it. In writing. And even then it might be shifty depending on amounts.

Generally speaking, you should not consider the money yours. It was refunded in error, after all. And it would have made more sense to confirm your communication before you deposited it, and you maybe shouldn't have moved it into savings, either - that looks kinda shifty, like keeping the money unavailable. Planning to keep it - or even just keep it "till the shoe drops" - looks an awful lot like fraud. As in, the crime. Taking or keeping money that doesn't belong to you, when you know it doesn't belong to you, is stealing.

Since you know you got the payment in error, it is your responsibility to make at minimum a reasonable effort to make sure the money goes where it was intended to go - and by "reasonable effort" I mean roughly what kind of effort the companies should put in, in your view, if the error had worked out the other way with neither paying you back.

At what point, if any, should they consider the money theirs, in the reversed situation?

Depending on the amount involved, and the companies' attitudes, it is possible (not necessarily likely, but possible) that each company will hear your story, and respond (confirmed, in writing) that they have no problem letting you keep the payment from their company. In the companies' view, this might be about how much it would cost to recoup the amount (and is thus more likely for very small amounts), or else writing off the cost for customer service or PR.

If both companies do this, you have the money free and clear. But I would not depend on this, companies have just as much reason to want money as you do - especially when belongs to them.

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