United States, ~1000+ employees.

I've been at my company for 5 years now. About 4 years ago we were given laptops but they were really low-end refurbished models. They're not much good except for VPN'ing to work, which was the whole idea, and that is totally fine.

Now the company is giving new top-of-the-line gaming quality laptops to newer employees and not upgrading the folks who have the older laptops.

I feel this is very disrespectful to the employees with more longevity who have been loyal to the company. It just seems very distasteful and may harm employee retention.

So how do I complain about this in a professional way, without coming off as a petulant child?

Edit: I really don't care about the laptop, it's more what the laptop represents. I do see it as a status symbol I suppose. I mean, what's the point of being a senior employee with experience and loyalty to the company if you're not treated with respect and perks? I work hard, go above and beyond to make sure the company succeeds even though we don't get stocks or anything. It's just distasteful and makes it more likely not less that I can be poached away.

  • 2
    VPN-ing, or remote desktop-ing? If the former, you have a good case for a better machine. If the latter, you essentially have a remote keyboard/mouse/monitor, and that's all it's for. I'd worry about weight more than performance, at that point. Aug 14, 2018 at 3:20
  • 24
    have you asked for one?
    – Kilisi
    Aug 14, 2018 at 3:59
  • 2
    Is your goal to get a new laptop or to have your status and position acknowledged? What I mean is, are there other ways for you to be satisfied which don't involve new equipment?
    – rath
    Aug 14, 2018 at 15:41

6 Answers 6


Just ask your manager/team lead.

At my place of work, laptops only get swapped out if they're beyond warranty and there's a problem with it. However, it is possible to ask and get the hardware request approved by your manager. I did this a few years ago in order to get rid of the old hand-down laptop I got when I joined.

Q. My laptop is getting old and slow, how can I get one of those new ones?
A. Oh, that's fine. Just put in a hardware request and I'll approve it.

This is how it worked for me.

Now that my current laptop is beyond the warranty date, I could go and ask for a newer one, but have to weigh up the pain of transferring all my software and setting it up again.


Your laptop needs to be good enough to do your assigned work with it. What laptops other people have should be none of your concern.

If your machine does the job, than you should be good. If not, state clearly why it is insufficient, what requirements you have that it doesn't meet and what you would need to happen to make it work. Argue around productivity, efficiency and return on investment. Don't argue about other people's machines.

  • 11
    This. Office equipment is a tool not a status-symbol (or should be, in a well-run business) Aug 14, 2018 at 10:42
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    @RedGrittyBrick I want to agree with you, but after many years of observing laptops and phones while sitting in conference rooms, and seeing hardware get deployed to people at various levels, there is definitely a status symbol thing going on even at decently-run companies.
    – alroc
    Aug 14, 2018 at 10:59
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    "Your laptop needs to be good enough to do your assigned work with it" - I think this is subjective because you can argue it in many ways that it is "functional" for the designed task. However, the question is if the newer laptops make life easier and more productive?
    – Dan
    Aug 14, 2018 at 13:13
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    My last company always gave every new employee a brand new top of the line laptop. It was yours to use for 3 years when the warranty ran out you got a new one. So the new employees ALWAYS had the new equipment really. This case seems rather egregious so ask, you are certainly past the point where any accounting method will have obsoleted the machine. Aug 14, 2018 at 14:43
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    @Dan I think that you are both making the same point. It needs to be "needs to be good enough" probably means more productive/life easier but a company can only spend so much on laptops. This isn't just if they can run a specific program but also how well. When a computer is slowing down enough to make an issue with productivity then that is usually when a company will either replace or upgrade your computer. Aug 14, 2018 at 15:08

I'm going to throw my two cents in as asking has never gotten me a new machine. What helped me was having my boss stand at my desk when the machine began locking up.

My scenario was just coincidental, but it's pretty easy to set up such a scenario and actually show why you need a new machine... but I want you to think about: do you really need it? Are you going to make more by getting it, or is your employer going to expect more out of you?

..Something to think about.


Your office probably works similar to mine. They have a list of when each laptop is eligible for upgrade (usually based on warranty or some vendor agreement). Even if the laptop is eligible for an upgrade it won't be replaced until it is required. Either because it is completely obsolete or stops working.

Just because you have an old laptop doesn't mean it can't perform to level required to do your job. Every time the company buys a laptop, it costs them money. Why would they spend money where they don't have to?

  • 1
    A "low-end refurbished model" that's 4 years old is probably 2-3 years past its upgrade time if it's based on warranty or purchasing deals w/ a vendor.
    – alroc
    Aug 14, 2018 at 11:00
  • 1
    Totally. It also shows disrespect for hpefully a valued worker. I would basically NOT accept working with such outdated equipment.
    – TomTom
    Aug 14, 2018 at 20:28
  • I mean I had a laptop that was eligible for replacement for 5 years, it worked just fine. Once I had an issue, I reported it and it was replaced. There a cost to equipment. I can totally see why a company would not replace a laptop until it is required. Just because you laptop is a few years old and refurbished does not mean it is a P.O.S and needs to be replaced right away. Aug 15, 2018 at 9:55

So how do I complain about this in a professional way, without coming off as a petulant child?

Edit: I really don't care about the laptop, it's more what the laptop represents.

There is no way to do that and appear professional. If you care about what the laptop represents, then that's not a professional consideration. If the laptop doesn't really make a difference (which I assume is why you don't care about it, per se), then you are complaining about something that does not actually impact your ability to do work, which makes it an unprofessional complaint.

Now, if you want to inquire, saying that your laptop is old and dated and wonder if or when you might get an update, there's nothing unprofessional about that.

Complaining that someone else has a better laptop than you have, when you don't actually care about it, and are more concerned because they are more junior than you..... there is no way to make that seem professional. But, hey, we're human, so ask, and pretend there are other considerations at play ("it's kind of slow and klunky"...... "I'm worried that this dated machine might not be as secure as newer models....")

To be clear, I'm not judging you for this. It's normal human and animal behavior to compare and feel some envy when things seem like they are not equitable.

New Scientist: Envious monkeys can spot a fair deal

  • Not sure what you consider professional. And I am serious. See, there are those who are nice, and behave nice, and those that take leadership and do get things done. Life is resistance. Is it unprofessional to overcome resistance to win the game? Dan Pena would strongly disagree. Strongly (and very politically incorrect). Is he wrong? Maybe. How many hundred dollars are you worth (because hey, money IS how professional success is valued). SO, please define how you define professional. I am known to go into meetings and call out the idiots in the room by name - and we dleiver, they do not.
    – TomTom
    Aug 14, 2018 at 20:30
  • I would consider "professional" to relate to getting the job done as well as possible. It would also be, if other matters are at work, at least not appearing to be motivated primarily by personal or even petty ego-driven considerations. As I said,. nothing wrong with wanting a nicer laptop for the sake of wanting to have a nicer laptop, but it would be foolish for someone who is at a level where they'd be issued an older model laptop for a number of years to overtly express that the main issue is that newer employees (lower on the perceived food chain) have nicer toys. Aug 14, 2018 at 22:26

Be nice to your IT: They can often arrange hand me down situation (take your info, move it up to the new laptop, then wipe the older laptop for the new person) as a favor.

That said, the company is short sighted, I can't believe they literally buy new hardware for every single employee, don't they take in laptops for people who leave and reuse them?

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