What can I do with this expensive barcode scanner?
August 6, 2014 5:10 PM   Subscribe

I accidentally received a free Honeywell 1911i barcode scanner from Amazon. It’s worth a lot of money. They said I can keep it or donate it. What should I do?

I recently ordered a whole bunch of kitchen stuff from Amazon. The order arrived, and mixed in the box with my cookware and utensils was this Honeywell 1911i barcode scanner. It’s obviously a warehouse worker’s equipment, so I hope no one got fired over losing it.

After doing a little Googling and seeing that this thing was worth hundreds of dollars, I contacted Amazon’s customer support asking if they wanted it back. All they could do was apologize over and over for the “confusion” and tell me they didn’t want to hassle me to return it; I am free to keep, donate, or dispose of the scanner myself.

It still has a charge, and using a manual I found online, I managed to connect it to my Mac over Bluetooth. My first thought was that it might be fun to use it to catalog my belongings with Delicious Library. But eventually its battery will die, and as far as I can tell, I need a ~$250 base unit to charge it. That’s a big chunk of change, plus once I’m done the initial big scan of all my stuff, I won’t have much use for the scanner anymore.

So what can I do with this thing?
  1. Is there a cheaper way to charge it? It doesn’t seem to have a place to plug in a cable.
  2. Should/could I sell it on eBay or Craigslist? Is there a market for one beat-up scanner with no accessories?
  3. Is there a worthy nonprofit (preferably in the Philadelphia area) who could make use of it?
posted by Ryon to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd call back and try again with another Amazon employee (or two). I think they would totally like it back, you may just have to get someone with more experience or a little more know-how to figure out how to appropriately deal with it.
posted by arnicae at 5:25 PM on August 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

1. Find it's product page on amazon.
2. Click the "I want to sell one just like this".
3. Go through whatever to sign up and post it for $200 less than amazon is selling it for, with the story of how you obtained it.
4. Send it to buyer.
5. Figure out how much doing 1-4 is worth.
6. Subtract #5 from however much you scored on amazon, and keep it.
7. Give the rest of your amazon score to a non-profit of your choice in cash.

Preferably one that fights wal-mart, cuz that could be seen as slightly ironic.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:25 PM on August 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

As someone that relies on having working equipment of that type to do my job, give it back maybe? I'm sure Amazon would be more than happy to pay for the shipping.

They use rechargeable batteries so there is no cheaper way to charge it. Usually the battery will last through ~8 hours of heavy use before it needs charging again.
posted by Requiax at 5:42 PM on August 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's a wireless one, so it relies on a base station to charge and as communications. It's pretty worthless without the base. If you're going to sell make sure that you make it very clear that there is no base station.

Personally I'd just toss it in the nearest electronics recycling bin.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 5:59 PM on August 6, 2014

Send it back to Amazon. No secrets are hidden within the bar code scanner. It is basically worthless without the base.
posted by Benway at 6:27 PM on August 6, 2014

There are quite a number of fulfillment centers in PA. Perhaps one is close enough for a drive.
posted by ApathyGirl at 7:30 PM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Something similar happened to me this week with Zappos: they sent the wrong merchandise and then told me I could keep it, donate it, or toss it when I contacted them. I guess it must be cheaper for them to eat the loss than to spend money on return shipping and processing.

I found this really annoying and wasteful. I don't have a donation drop-off in my immediate neighborhood, I didn't want the item or have time to deal with trying to sell it, I didn't want to put it into the landfill, and I didn't feel like walking a couple miles to the nearest thrift store to mitigate their mistake.

I decided to write them again and ask for a UPS pick up, and they complied. I suppose there is a chance they might just toss the stuff when it arrives at its destination, but maybe if more people complain, they will at least offer the option to return unordered and unwanted merchandise.
posted by girl flaneur at 9:00 PM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Allowing a piece of hardware that has direct access to the guts of amazon's internal systems to just be sent back from the wild would be horrible, terrible security practices, and could easily lead to a target style incident. Amazon buys these things by the pallet- they get a much better price than you do, and losing one every once in a while is a cost of doing business.
posted by rockindata at 4:24 AM on August 7, 2014 [6 favorites]

That said, put it on eBay. Somewhere, someone just ran over their scanner with a forklift, and would be thrilled to not have to call their Honeywell rep to buy a new one.
posted by rockindata at 4:48 AM on August 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah, forget sending it back. I've had about three times where I got something extra or wrong and to my utter surprise, at least as a Prime customer, Amazon basically credited me for the purchase price and said "keep it". I believe the most expensive item was $180 (but very bulky to ship). It really is too expensive for them to bother with, in terms of all the logistics, staff time, and so forth.

As rockindata said, somebody out there -- who already has a base station -- will want it. Maybe not right away, of course, but you may as well get something out of it, and if it bugs you, give the money to charity.
posted by dhartung at 9:01 AM on August 7, 2014

Thanks, all. To clarify: I already offered to send it back to Amazon, via tweet and via email, and they declined pretty conclusively. Also, communications work fine without a base (it connects directly, acting as a Bluetooth keyboard), so only the battery is an issue.

hal_c_on, I tried the Sell One Like This button and it said that item was “restricted!” I guess it’s eBay for me.

ApathyGirl, nice idea, but those are all hours away from Philly, and I have the feeling they’d look at me like I’m crazy when I showed up. Seems like it’ll be a waste of gas.

rockindata, thanks for maybe the best explanation (other than shipping/handling costs) why they might not want it back.

I’ll try selling it and donate the money to the library or something.
posted by Ryon at 10:35 AM on August 8, 2014

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