When the phenomenon was share on Facebook, users were quick to question who the sellers were and why they’re trusted with information that’s not even required for an eBay auction.
The sellers’ usernames don’t appear to be linked to a company.
One listing with bids up to £56 is titled ’10x bundle of lost returned mail (Royal Mail / Hermes – original packaging)’ and accompanied by an image of the items inside – including reading glasses, LED lights and hair extensions.
On a Facebook post discussing the listings, many were concerned about who is selling the lost items.
One user said: “Are there any police on here to report these sellers?”
Jane Dawson, 35, from Dagenham, North East London, added: “It’s really worrying. If these items really are undelivered how do you know people’s details and invoices aren’t in there as well.
“People aren’t consenting to have their data shared outside of the delivery service and whoever is selling them items on eBay aren’t part of the delivery service.”
Delivery firms Royal Mail and Hermes have since explained how third-party companies can get their hands on parcels that are returned to the sender.
A Hermes spokesperson said: “Some overseas retailers have a representative (clearance house) in the UK and this where Hermes collects and returns items to.
“Hermes has no role in deciding what then happens to these returned items – they belong to the retailer – and the retailer or their representative decides on the next course of action.
“Hermes is not involved and would not legally be able to open these parcels and remove any personal data.”
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Where we have been made aware of items being sold in this way, in line with our terms and conditions, we also ask these companies to remove any customer details on the sites as well as make no reference to Royal Mail and to black out our branding.
“These are not items that are in course of transmission by post and would not have reached eBay via Royal Mail. When Royal Mail attempts to deliver items to customers and the items are undeliverable, we return these items to the Delivery Office.
“In some cases, the customers do not want to collect these items which can often be of low value. When items are undeliverable, our policy is to return such items to the sender or retailer.
“Certain retailers, sometimes based overseas, may not want to deal with the administrative burden of managing the returns and associated shipping costs. As a result certain overseas retailers sometimes arrange for third-party service providers based in the UK to manage their returns for them.
“These retailers will then mark these third-party firms as the return address on any packaging. Once the third-party firms receive the items, they sometimes elect to sell these items by auction.
“Where we have been made aware of items being sold in this way, we ask for these companies concerned to make no reference to Royal Mail on the sites and to black out our branding as can be seen in some of these images.”