Theft by finding? What would you do?

It was about this time of year.  On the way to Carla’s pre-school in Epsom I catch sight of a £20 note tumbling through the autumnal detritus that’s wafting down the street. The way it hops purposefully into my hand when I stoop to rescue it makes it seem worth more than it is. I experience that brief euphoria of winning that comes from a random event that gives you something for nothing, which in turn reminds me of a fruit machine addiction I overcame in my teens.

I wonder if there’s a right-thing-to-do to give me a warm fuzzy feeling. Everyone in sight is some distance away and going about their business. No one’s looking for anything. The only shop that’s open is a garishly-lit purveyor of fried food and canned drinks. There’ll be no good karma to be had in there. If my children were here we might take the money to the Police Station, as if we’re in one of those surreal, saccharine reading books that Stanley used to bring home from school, but in their absence such a waste of taxpayer-funded resources seems quite ridiculous.

It’s still bothering me much later when I deselect that note at the bar. Salvation finally appears in the form of a diminutive volunteer, rattling a tin for a breast cancer charity.  I feel the need to defend, explain and justify to my fellow drinkers the highly visible largess (it can be hard work being British, you know), but I feel better for it nonetheless.

My current dilemma is similar in nature but different in degree.  When FedEx delivered my new Dell laptop yesterday, I assumed that one box contained the laptop and the other contained wires, manuals, peripherals and software, but this is not the case.  The second box contains a second laptop; one that should have been delivered to an address in Savannah, Georgia – a two hour flight away.

I haven’t studied the spec in great detail, but it’ll be worth between $2,000 and $3,000 for sure.  I’ve done the obvious thing, of course, and contacted Dell to inform them of the error.  There was no telephone number to ring or operator to livechat to; not like when you’re looking to place an order.  No, once they have your money it’s all FAQs, links to the FedEx tracking system and, if you’re really determined, a highly constraining web form that was not designed with this eventuality in mind.  I’ve done my best with it, but from reading online about some people’s experience of Dell’s after sales service, and in light of my own experience of submitting such forms to large corporations, I’m not surprised that Dell have not got back to me within 24 hours, as they promised they would.  What if they never do?

We’re very fortunate that the use of or proceeds from selling this laptop would not make as much difference to us as it would to many people, so not ‘stealing’ it is an easy decision for me to make.  I am, however, disinclined to spend much more time and effort trying to penetrate Dell’s defenses just to make a minuscule improvement in their margins. It’s crossed my mind to contact the intended recipient, but there’s no quick and simple way of doing that (she’s not on Facebook) and she will get her laptop from Dell regardless. It’s unlikely that the lost item reappearing in another part of the country will speed this process up. My favourite idea so far is to complete another web form issuing Dell with an ultimatum, beyond which I’ll list the item on Ebay with all proceeds going to charity.

Does anyone have any better ideas? Am I missing something? As ever, all opinions, suggestions and legal advice are gratefully received.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Theft by finding? What would you do?

  1. Deadly Knitshade says:

    Gamble! Gamble!

    Where’s Jim Bowen when you need him?

  2. I wonder what Jim Bowen would do.

  3. Hmm… not everyone gets as lucky !! if I were you would have spent the $20.00 on icecream and cupcakes 🙂 keep the laptop … untill they ask for it, Maybe you missed the small fine print and it was a BOGO 🙂
    Sure you’ll decide what’s the right thing to do !!

  4. nick says:

    In the UK after a certain time the laptop will belong to you, so long as you contacted the company. They are required to arrange to pick it up.
    It might be worth finding out if the same applies in the US.
    Then sell it and donate the money. Or keep the better one and donate the other one straight to charity, or the school.

  5. Is there a Statute of Limitations that would come into play? I’d keep a record of all the attempts you made to send it back/get it collected, wait for a decent period of time then start playing with it, perhaps looking furtively over your shoulder.

    Dell are crap. They lost the desktop PC we ordered. When I complained, they sent me a free printer. I thought this was quite a good result until I realised that the ink hardly lasted a month, cost LOADS to replace and could only be ordered from Dell.

    In fact… you know all this, don’t you?

    • Ah, the free printer: the gift that keeps on taking. How is the other printer holding up? I bought one just like it as soon as I got here. It is a testimony to how awful some of my past printers have been that I love my current one so much (from the Canon Pixma range, in case anyone’s interested).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.