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I work for a company part time. They know I do work for other companies. When I was working at one location, this company had someone drop off a large asset (a special printer). I was expected to take it home with me at the end of my shift which I did. I tried several times to return it but the person who was supposed to pick it up had car problems and never got back to me. I also contacted my manager but he didn't really have a solution. As far as I'm aware, the only way I can return assets is to contact this person and he will pick it up. I've had a few smaller assets left for me to take home, but the printer by far is the largest and most expensive.

Recently we got a new manager. Today was the first day I spoke with her. She said someone needs the printer tomorrow. I think she knew it was ridiculous to have less than 24 hours notice and was trying to communicate the printer needs to be returned asap.

This is a problem because I am in the process of moving homes. I'll skip the details but due to the move in/out dates I had to put 99% of my belongings in storage. The printer is at bottom of the pile (it came in a special case so it's safe). It would be very inconvenient for me to pick it up before the end of the month at which time I would unpack things into my new home. Also my other job is very busy atm so I don't have spare time.

I tried to explain all this to the new manager but don't think I was clear enough. I'm not really supposed to be storing lots of assets in my home; this was never the agreement and it's not part of my job. I have a paper trail of how I tried to get rid of them when I knew I was moving. What should I tell the new manager? I may consider returning the printer before the end of the month if I'm paid for my time including travel. The landlord of the new place isn't charging me to use the storage and I don't get the key until the end of the month. I would have to get him to let me in and I don't want to inconvenience him.

  • I may consider returning the printer before the end of the month if I'm paid for my time including travel. . Did you put that proposal in front of the new manager? – Sourav Ghosh May 24 at 8:15
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    How long was it since you've last tried to return the printer? – Stephan Branczyk May 24 at 10:41
  • Did you bring up that because of your move it was going to become difficult to access to your employer in advance of packing everything into storage? – Dan Neely May 24 at 23:12
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Explain the situation in as much detail as you can, but don't be apologetic, since that may give your new manager the impression you are somehow to blame. The printer was never your responsibility to return, unless specified so at the time of taking. You were simply doing someone a favour which they, and not you, did not follow through in considerate amount of time. They have inconvenienced you with this asset, and now they are trying to inconvenience you further by making it an immediate task.

I understand that you proposed to give it to them anyway if they pay you for the time and travel - but what about your landlord? Of course, he could do you a favour and let you in, however you are just pushing the inconvenience they caused you onto your landlord. You shouldn't be doing that when you already agreed with your landlord you won't be entering, as who is going to pay the landlord the time and travel cost that he will use to get there to open the storage for you?

There is many reasons to kindly, but not apologetically, refuse this request. If your manager continues to push you, repeat your explanation in exact same words every time, and inform her the first possible date they can pick up the asset.

Now, let me also say that whilst they should get it back, you having it isn't theft. You do not have the intent to deprive the company permanently of this object, it is they who have failed to follow through. There is no criminal responsibility here for you.

Do yourself a favour and refuse all future asset safe-keeping requests. It would of been great if you had an email, prior to the printer being stored away, saying that you are moving on some date and unless the printer is taken by this date, you won't be able to get it back to them until some other date.

  • +1 for the idea of refusing to do this again in the future. And I would also emphasize refusing no matter the size of the asset (OP mentioned having done this before for smaller things.) If he refuses to pick up anything as big as a printer, but still takes smaller envelopes, the line will inevitably get blurred again, leading to strife when he refuses something for being "too big"/"too expensive." – Steve-O May 24 at 13:27
  • "There is no criminal responsibility here for you." Unless you are lawyer in the OP's jurisdiction, please avoid making bold statements on the law like this. – HorusKol May 24 at 13:32
  • @HorusKol I understand, but OP has mentioned the currency of $ in another question - which means he is likely to be in US. There is many law websites which state that intent to steal is necessary for this to be theft (for example see criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/…). OP has no intent to steal, therefore I am quite confident he wouldn't be criminally liable. But yes, I'm not a lawyer, so take it with a pinch of salt – Tryb Ghost May 28 at 8:29
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This is a unfortunate situation - for everyone really. You made reasonable efforts to try and get the printer back to them at point in time that was convenient for you but ultimately it is their printer and they are entitled to ask for it back. The fact that you are moving and it's now buried under a large pile of your stuff isn't really their problem.

I may consider returning the printer before the end of the month if I'm paid for my time including travel.

While I would say it's reasonable to ask them to contribute to any out of pocket costs you might have, you have to remember that ultimately the only reason why you have to go and travel and dig it out is because you are moving, I think you are on dangerous ground saying you "may consider returning" it - it's not your printer. You don't really get to say whether they can have it back or not.

I have a paper trail of how I tried to get rid of them when I new I was moving. What should I tell the new manager?

I think bearing in mind you have this it's not unreasonable to say something like:

Of course I can get your printer for you but due to my moving it's not easily accessible right now. I did try and return the printer on x date but it wasn't suitable due to issues with y's transport so I'm not trying to be difficult but if you want me to get it to you for tomorrow it's going to cost me z would you be willing to split this cost with me? Alternatively I can get it back you at the end of the month?

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    I would not offer to split those costs - they, not the OP are the cause of the printer not being collected, so any and all costs should be borne by them... – Solar Mike May 24 at 9:48
  • @SolarMike while I agree that they are the cause of the printer not being collected, the OP is the cause of it being inaccessible. Unless he specifically said "if you don't get it by abc date it wont be available until def" I think it's fair for him to shoulder a portion of the cost. – motosubatsu May 24 at 10:03
  • if the OP had 20/20 hindsight then they would have made many more conditions about looking after someone else's property - perhaps including that they provide insurance coverage and proper transport.... – Solar Mike May 24 at 10:39
  • @SolarMike Agreed.. and perhaps something to think about for the future if they are going to continue having assets at their house - probably outside the scope of this question though! – motosubatsu May 24 at 10:46
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I think it depends on how much effort it is to get the printer for them. For example, if you're moving a block down the road, I think it's reasonable to go get it for them. If you're moving to another country, not as much. Likely your situation is somewhere in the middle.

What you should do is say to them that the printer is in storage due to their employee's failure to pick it up as scheduled and due to your move. You would be happy to get it for them, but they have to pay you for your time (plus other expenses, e.g. gas, as laid out in your contract) to do so, at your usual rate. Explain to them, however, that this is pending your landlord agreeing to the inconvenience of meeting you and letting you into the storage, and also pending your landlord's schedule of when he can do that. Something like this:

I would have liked to have returned the printer to you on X date as planned. However, due to a mishap with Bob's car, Bob was unable to pick it up from me on that date. Since I am moving houses, all of my stuff, including the printer, is currently in storage. I would be happy to pick up the printer for you from storage, but I would need to do so on a schedule which is amenable to my future landlord, as I cannot get into the storage without his approval. Additionally, if this is to be the case, as this is a task assigned to me by the company, I will be billing the company for hours worked to perform this task as with any other task. Please advise if these terms are amenable to you. If not, I will be completing my move on Y date, after which time you can reclaim the printer at your leisure.

The fact that this printer is at the bottom of a pile of stuff, and that it would be a lot of work to dig it out is your problem, not theirs. When putting things into storage, you should stack things so that the ones which are most likely to be needed first are at the top. This printer is not yours, so it poses the biggest risk if it is asked for at a moment's notice; you should have piled it higher.

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To keep the peace at your work, I would propose to get the printer anyway and indicate that someone can come pick it up, or even return it yourself.

I think that the relation with your new manager is something which is more valuable than the time you might spend returning the printer.

If you would do this, I think it is best to explain to your manager that this was somewhat of an inconvenience to you, and discuss how you can avoid these things in the future.

If you decide not to do it, also explain to the new manager why you can't return it now, and maybe share the complete history since she might not be completely up to date on this. Communication is key in these kinds of situations.

If she is a good manager, she will value the effort you did, even if you don't return it.

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