I found someone's employee badge. Help me get it back to them ASAP!
November 23, 2011 10:07 PM   Subscribe

On the way home from work today I found an employee badge that someone appeared to have dropped and lost (it was right next to the bus stop I usually wait at). The badge's owner was nowhere in sight (it was a photo ID) and I don't know anyone who works for the company identified on the badge. What's the best / quickest way to get it back to its owner, especially given tomorrow is a (US) holiday?

I wasn't initially sure whether I should pick up the badge at all, but after some internal deliberation I figured that leaving it there would just be passing the buck, so to speak (especially as it's been windy and rainy here in the south SF Bay Area recently). So I've got it here now.

I tried calling the company on my cell phone as soon as I found the badge but their office hours were closed for the day. I can certainly try again tomorrow but I am figuring they'll be closed then due to Thanksgiving -- and meanwhile, some poor guy is presumably freaking out somewhere wondering where the heck his badge is.

(It's the kind with the security/keycard entry stripe on it, and I know companies (for obvious reasons) like to keep a tight rein on those.)

I also tried googling the guy's name from the employee badge, but nothing useful turned up -- e.g., six LinkedIn results with the same name, none of which were him based on profession / location.

My own current employers don't use badges, but my previous employer did, so I'm familiar with that type of security / entry ID. Thing is, my previous employer's badges had a note printed on the back with an address, etc., alongside instructions to drop it in the nearest mailbox so it could be returned to the company. I don't see anything like that on this badge, but is it possible there's a similar thing going on? Or would it be obvious if there was, meaning my best bet is just to wait until Mondayish when the company is open for sure again?

...and of course there's still the matter of whether I should keep trying to find some way to contact Badge Owner directly. I don't want to come across as all stalker-y or anything...but I also feel bad thinking of him possibly being all nervous over the holiday weekend about his badge's whereabouts. Thoughts, suggestions, etc. all welcome.
posted by aecorwin to Work & Money (21 answers total)
It's only stalker-like and unsettling if you behave like a stalker. If you can figure out how to contact this person on your own, that would probably be easiest for everyone - the sooner you get it back to its rightful owner, the sooner you can get back to thinking about other things.

All you have to do when you phone them is behave professionally. Offer to meet in a neutral place like Starbucks, and be ready to take off after the handoff occurs.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:11 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Check the phonebook/the white pages online?
Does the company have a website? Maybe his email or something is listed there on the staff info page? Even if its his work email, he might have it synced to his phone and would see it?

If you don't have one, I'm sure your library or someone you might know could have one. Worth a shot! You are a kind person, thanks for that, too. :)
posted by fuzzysoft at 10:12 PM on November 23, 2011

This is not quite the same situation, but I dropped my driver's license while hiking once, and a kind stranger found it and sent me a facebook message. I assume he found my fb profile by googling. He dropped it in the mail the same day and I was really, really grateful he went the extra mile, not only in picking it up but then contacting me and mailing it. So although it seems like google might not be the most helpful, if you are able to find this guy, I don't think it's weird or stalkery in the least to contact him.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 10:13 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Did you stay on the line long enough to see if their phone system offers a dial-by-name option? Maybe you can reach the owner or at least leave a voice mail.
posted by vsync at 10:19 PM on November 23, 2011

Best answer: The office (I'm assuming it's an office type of business?) must be fairly close to the bus stop - in your shoes I would take the badge to the building and turn it over to the nighttime / weekend / holiday security desk that minds the place during closed hours. They can take care of cancelling the badge, notifying whomever they need to, and issuing a new one on Monday.
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:23 PM on November 23, 2011 [6 favorites]

Best answer: A lot of companies do not print the company name or address on the card because they don't want some random person off the street (i.e. you) using it to gain access to their facility.

I second checking Facebook. For LinkedIn, did you try nicknames? Like William ___ AND Will ___?

Alternatively, is there a shop directly in front of the bus stop by any chance? You might want to ask them. When I lost my wallet, I gave my phone number to the stores near the spot I lost it and an hour later one of them called me saying someone found it and brought it in (hurray!).

Otherwise, I would call on Monday at 8:00am and not worry too much about it during the holiday. Any company with security cards also has a process for lost security cards. It's been really trivial to replace them and deactivate lost ones at every company I've worked at.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 10:24 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I say drop it by the front desk next time you can (Friday, if they're open, or Monday). If that's not feasible, call the company and let them know you found the badge and offer to mail it back or destroy it, whichever they prefer. That's about all you can do.
posted by elizeh at 10:32 PM on November 23, 2011

Best answer: It's not a huge deal and I doubt he's "all nervous." Worst case, he gets signed in Monday morning, and maybe the company charges him $10 for a new badge. I know people who lose them constantly.

That said, if you want to be nice, call the company Monday and ask them how to proceed. But not a big deal no matter what. I'm sure the badge owner is relaxing and enjoying his holiday, and so should you.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:48 PM on November 23, 2011 [10 favorites]

Best answer: It's thoughtful of you, but I think you're building this into a much bigger thing than it actually is. Nobody would spend the whole long weekend freaking out over the whereabouts of their employee badge unless they have an anxiety disorder. Losing one is a minor inconvenience, not some kind of significant life event. Just call the company on Monday and you'll be going above and beyond. Personally I would probably just throw it in the trash and assume he'll get it replaced as lost anyway.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 10:51 PM on November 23, 2011 [7 favorites]

If you can't find a phone nubmer for the person via google, the phone book or some such, dropping it by the company (or just mailing it to them) is probably the best plan. Personally, I lost my ID and someone called and told me, "Hey, I found your ID, want me to mail it to you?" I'd be delighted.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:46 PM on November 23, 2011

Just to echo drjimmy11 and strangely stunted trees, I work in a badge entry type building and it's not that big of a deal. It would be nice if you called them Monday and figured out how to send it back, but that's all you need to do. Dude will be able to get in to work with other ID*.

*Unless it's for like the CIA or something in which case I dunno.
posted by grapesaresour at 11:46 PM on November 23, 2011

Best answer: It was very kind of you to pick up the badge. I work for a company with entry badges, and personally I probably wouldn't even know it was lost until the next work day.

If I were in your shoes, I'd make another attempt to call the company on Friday (some people have short staffs that day), and if that's not successful on Saturday I'd just drop it in the mail to their main office with a note that it was found.
posted by muddgirl at 5:21 AM on November 24, 2011

I can assure you that you are probably way more freaked out by this than the badge owner. It's just not that big of a deal. Run it by the office if it's convenient, mail it back, or just throw it away.
posted by COD at 5:58 AM on November 24, 2011

I dropped my work badge in the snow once, the person who found it looked up my employer in the phone book and called me. They said they had the badge and I went and picked it up from them. He's probably not nervous about his badge -- like others said, he probably doesn't know it is missing. I didn't know I'd dropped mine until I got to work the next day. Give the employer a call tomorrow or Monday and see if you can get in touch with the guy.
posted by whatideserve at 6:38 AM on November 24, 2011

I think you are doing a nice thing, but you shouldn't feel obligated to go no further than leaving a message on the company VM and and/or dropping it off on Monday if you like. It's not that big a deal, and it's not your problem.
posted by sm1tten at 8:20 AM on November 24, 2011

Best answer: These days, the best security practice is probably going to be invalidating the thing in your hand immediately. Offering to return it is a nice gesture, but they'll have to reprogram it anyways, because while I'm sure you're an upstanding citizen, they can't be sure of that. If you call up GeneriCorp and they tell you which building to return this valid credential to, that's like an invitation to help yourself to their equipment.

So they'll just let the guy's card sit until he returns to work and discovers his card is missing.
posted by pwnguin at 9:45 AM on November 24, 2011

I've lost several work badges over the years, it's not a big deal. I'd just toss it.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:58 AM on November 24, 2011

Response by poster: OK, wow, lots of good thoughts here -- just to update the situation, I've been unable to find the badge's owner anywhere online (e.g., I've checked Facebook and whatnot to no avail). I'll most likely try calling the company on Friday (tomorrow). I realize that good security measures, as someone suggested, have likely already invalidated the badge, but I just don't feel comfortable throwing it in the trash and forgetting about it. It may not be "my problem", and maybe I've tended to overestimate the significance of my own security badges in the past, but it's just one of those things, you know?

Thanks again to everyone who commented -- if nothing else I've now got a much better sense of the range of opinions / preferences regarding this sort of thing.
posted by aecorwin at 11:35 AM on November 24, 2011

I have a few different badges for working in classified material-type places for the DOD and DOE. Don't worry about it.

If I lost mine, I'd be really grateful for a call. That's only because I would know I could stop turning my house and car upside down looking for it. The real consequences of losing it, though, is the embarrassment of having to wear a temporary "i'm an idiot" badge all day and taking an hour or so at some point to get a new one made.

People lose them or forget them at home all the time. He can still go to work. He just might be a little late if he doesn't notice he's lost it beforehand.
posted by ctmf at 12:43 PM on November 24, 2011

Best answer: Personally, I'd just pop it in an envelope and mail it to the guy's attention at the office.

I used to be the one in charge of issuing employee badges at my company. This isn't a huge deal. People lose these ALL. THE. TIME. Some people like to lose them a couple of times in one month.
posted by magnetsphere at 1:20 PM on November 25, 2011

Response by poster: Last update, as of Monday morning: I managed to get in touch with the company, and asked them what they would prefer me to do with the badge. They gave me an address and said they would appreciate it if I'd mail it there labeled "attention: HR". Which is easy enough, so I'll just do that. Thanks again for the inputs, folks!
posted by aecorwin at 8:52 AM on November 28, 2011

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