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It's been 2 months since I resigned from my previous employer. Before I left, my manager told me that I would receive a box to return my company laptop and phone.

Over the past 2 months, I've sent 5 emails to my manager and HR regarding the laptop and phone. My manager has not responded. HR has responded, telling me that I can expect a box.

I started working for them after the pandemic began, so I have never been to the office. To date, their office is still not open–everybody is working remotely.

Should I keep emailing them weekly? Should I walk into the office when it re-opens and return it?

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  • 3
    Can't you phone them? Ask them when you are to expect the box, and what are the consequences of not returning the equipment. Tell them you are not a storage shed, and that you will throw them away if they are not collected within a reasonable amount of time. Personally, 2 months is already pushing my patience.
    – musefan
    Jul 29 at 16:37
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    Yes, just keep sending them a weekly reminder to both the manager and CC to HR. And if the office is nearby, than yes, just go and drop it off when they reopen - it looks like that's what they ultimately want you to do. Once you do, be sure to get a signed acknowledgement from them that they have recieved it.
    – sfxedit
    Jul 29 at 18:33
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    Please let us known the country/state you're in. The exact jurisdiction you're in can help determine how much storage per month you can threaten to charge them. Jul 29 at 18:38
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    @rs.29 If the office isn't open, it's possible that they don't even want the OP to mail it there. They'd at least need to clarify where they want the equipment sent.
    – BSMP
    Jul 30 at 17:44
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    Just put it in a box, put the box in your cupboard, and forget about it. If/when they email you about it, you can fish it out. If it's really bugging you, return it at your expense. Aug 6 at 19:20
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Call them one final time. If you can, record the conversation.

Keep and print your email communication with them regarding this.

Pack the equipment up in an appropriate box or storage container with the printed communication.

Store the box or storage container in an appropriate place.

Take no further action or attempt any further communication.

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    If you are going to record the conversation be sure you get permission. Recording a conversation often requires two-party consent.
    – Donald
    Jul 31 at 19:44
9

It's been 2 months. Time to finalize it with a certified mail and outline the conditions:


1: Please send the return box or confirmation thereof (receipt or tracking number) within 2 weeks. (Or whatever time you want to wait, could be less.)

2: Failure to do so within the timeframe will deem the equipment as forfeit. The hard drive will be removed and destroyed. If the physical remains need to be returned, see above regarding return box. Proof via digital photo can be provided.

P.S.: Please note that this is final communication regarding this matter. It has been over 2 months since my resignation and I cannot be responsible for the equipment anymore. If longer storage time is required, an invoice of storage fees will be billed according to the amount of extra time needed.

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    Do make sure you know the legal situation in the company where you live. Here in the UK, doing that would leave you being open to being sued for the value of the equipment.
    – Simon B
    Jul 29 at 17:01
  • @SimonB: the point here is to threaten but NOT to actual do this. The goal is to rattle HR's cage and get them to take action.
    – Hilmar
    Jul 29 at 17:05
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    @Hilmar - If the point is to only threaten, surely, HR would know that it's an empty threat. Why threaten to do something you are not actually willing to do?
    – Donald
    Jul 29 at 18:58
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    @Donald: You are overestimating the average HR person.
    – Hilmar
    Jul 30 at 12:36
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    @DaveG No, it is liability. The longer you hold on to a laptop that you have no legal right to possess, the more likely something will screw up. This isn't to get the OP in trouble, but to clearly show that the OP is no longer liable due to the employer's inaction.
    – Nelson
    Aug 1 at 16:32
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You're reaching out to the wrong people. Escalate to IT or security instead. Tell both that you still have the equipment and that it is a potential security risk. Repeatedly contacting people who don't care is not helping.

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    You can even lie and say you can still access the data. - ALWAYS a bad idea. Jul 30 at 16:59
  • @JoelEtherton not at all. Lies-are-always-bad is a concept for children. This lie only benefits all concerned. Jul 30 at 17:28
  • Only if it gets the result OP wants. It's also possible it will result in IT wasting time trying to figure out how OP still has access they don't actually have and/or someone getting in trouble for not taking away said access (even though they did). There's also the off chance of something actually happening to that data before OP sends the equipment back and being made a suspect because they claimed they still had access to it. (The lie isn't even necessary if IT can just tell OP where to send the equipment.)
    – BSMP
    Jul 30 at 17:54
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    @MichaelMcFarlane: Claiming you have access to the data when you don't sets you up for legal trouble in the event that they have any kind of data breach. This is not the equivalent of telling your 5 year-old that their finger painting is magnificent. This can lead to real consequences. Jul 30 at 18:35
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    @JoelEtherton Unless the company has remotely disabled OPs existing logins for the phone/laptop (which the situation has me doubting) then access to the data still exists unless the PW has been forgotten because it would just require logging into the never collected devices. Jul 30 at 20:53
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Why not just post it back to them with registered delivery? Or, Pop around the office and hand it in

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  • Given that the company seems to be a bit disorganized, what happens when the OP sends it back on his own and then in a few months gets a box to return the already returned equipment? And the company has no record of the equipment being returned? I wouldn't return it till the company is ready to receive it.
    – DaveG
    Jul 30 at 3:01
  • Recorded delivery
    – Ed Heal
    Jul 30 at 7:01
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    There will be a record that a package was delivered. But given that the company hasn't requested the return and seems to be disorganized, not clear that it will record the receipt of equipment. A lot safer to wait for the company to request the return.
    – DaveG
    Jul 30 at 13:40
  • @DaveG: On the flip side.... what proof does the company have that you even have the equipment in the first place?
    – musefan
    Jul 30 at 15:47
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    So just post it back by registered post. You have evidence and they got they stuff back.
    – Ed Heal
    Jul 30 at 18:54
3

Depending on your location,

I would suggest sending the email stating that due to box hasn`t arrived yet, equipment will be sent COD to the office address on the date (in a week)

And actually do so

Keep all the communication`s promises and tracking number to the shipment

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    And if no one receives it? Then you're outta the cost of the CoD package. Jul 29 at 21:25
  • @JanDorniak as i stated, depending on location ups.com/ca/en/help-center/sri/bill-receiver.page
    – Strader
    Jul 29 at 23:42
  • Do not blindly send the equipment. Just sit on it and don't worry anymore. Aug 2 at 14:55
  • @BillLeeper if its in your care - you are responsible for it. you need to get rid of it or get a waiver that its yours
    – Strader
    Aug 2 at 17:30
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Maybe they dont care or they dont want to bear the cost of receiving it just to dump it?

Some places do not manage equipment once the warranty is out. I would document the trail as other say, wait some longer and keep the equipment on storage.

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  • True, but normally they would just tell their employee that they don't want the equipment instead of telling them to wait on a box.
    – BSMP
    Aug 6 at 17:06
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This exact situation happened to me, and it was a clerical error on their part. Call, don't email, the HR office, and have them verify the address the box was sent to. Make sure they have the correct shipping information, and make corrections if necessary. During the call, get the email for the person you spoke to, or a specific person to follow up with, and make sure they send the box. Get a tracking number. As soon as you receive the box, do your part and package the equipment and schedule a time to ship it out, then once its shipped, take the receipt and send that to your follow-up contact.

  • The tracking number is their proof that they are sending you the box
  • The shipping receipt is your CYA to prove to them you no longer possess the equipment.

Most likely they got a bunch of work orders at once for equipment and some of them got mixed up. I had this happen when 250 employees were laid off at the same time and my box was shipped 3 times to an address 400 miles away from me before I finally verified it.

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