A company I would die for is screwing me over hard...
October 25, 2007 8:38 PM   Subscribe

Lets say you used to work at this store. Your friend (who still worked for the store at the time) says he can get you a good deal on something the store sells through a friend of his. You pay him, he gives you the product. 2 months later, the regional manager calls you and says you are in possession of a stolen item and states that while you don't HAVE to return it, the store would really appreciate it if you give them back their property. If you give the item back, you're out $1800 and then have to spend another $2500 to replace said item. If you opt to not return the item, are there any legal repercussions?

We can assume that the entire time, you were under the impression that the item came from someone your friend knew who could get the item at cost through his business discount. And that when you asked if this item was 'clean' he said it was and that you wouldn't have any issues registering it or attaching a warranty to it.

Lets also assume this is a big hit on your income if you have to buy a new item, and the company that the item was taken from is worth oh... lets say $72 billion-ish... which wouldn't really put a dent in their pocket.

I know the 'right' thing to do in a situation such as this is to return said item, but I also know that it means you are out $4300 that you really don't have.

The last piece of this is, you are pretty sure the manager only contacted you and asked for the item back because they knew you personally. If the employee had sold this item to someone who wasn't attached to the company, you're pretty sure they would never be made aware that they were in possession of stolen merchandise so that the company could keep up its good public image. Even though you haven't worked for the company in 7 months, they're still treating this as if you were an employee.

What would you do?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (58 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: deleted at posters request -- mathowie -- mathowie

states that while you don't HAVE to return it, the store would really appreciate it if you give them back their property.

That doesn't say 'This item was stolen' to me. That says "we lost a lot of money on this, and I'm going to wing it and see if the guy will give it back"... Perhaps because someone gave a discount they weren't meant to?

I think if it HAD been stolen, they'd be using much stronger wording. On the lines of "That item, is stolen. Please give it back, as it would be a shame to have to press charges or get the law involved" (even firmer if they didn't know you).
posted by Brockles at 8:42 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

You do know that if you don't hand it over, they can just ring up La Policia and get it back the old fashioned way, right?

That's what would worry me, but I have a sweet cherry ass that I value more than $4300.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 8:43 PM on October 25, 2007

Yeah, what the hell is going on with this question? And the rape tag? Why would you die for this company?

If it is stolen, and you are in possession of it, then yes you can face charges.
posted by ninjew at 8:49 PM on October 25, 2007

I don't get it. It sounds like you knew it was a scam from the git-go, especially if you used to work at the same place, you'd know the policies for such things. You were aware of the "friend" stretching things. How can you headline this that you would die for this company and that they are screwing you, when it sounds like you were the one screwing them? Or perhaps I missed something. I don't think you have "clean hands" in this transaction. I think you knew going in that the deal was dirty and now you are annoyed that the manager had the balls to call you on it.
posted by 45moore45 at 8:50 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

I would think you'd be able to explain to the manager that you didn't believe and weren't aware that the item was stolen, but you're willing to take part in any police investigation the store wishes to pursue. Then let the cops deal with it. But I would definitely talk to a lawyer before pulling something like that, just to be safe.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:52 PM on October 25, 2007 [2 favorites]

Do you have a receipt for the item? Also, did the store manager provide you with the serial #'s to the item?
posted by thomcatspike at 8:52 PM on October 25, 2007

I know this doesn't help much, but in Canada it would be illegal to hang onto said item, assuming it was actually stolen. It is twice as bad since the manager knows you have it, so if they report it you're screwed.
If I were you, I'd try to clear up some details such as where that money ended up (did your friend of a friend actually pay the company anything?), whether they are going to have the cops investigate, whether it is in fact stolen and whether the friend of a friend knows that the manager knows.
The word "registering" is a bit of an alarm bell. If you have to register something, would the company not keep records?

Is your $4300 worth the chance of alienating the company/ jail time?
posted by Ctrl_Alt_ep at 8:54 PM on October 25, 2007

The right thing is for the company to get the person who stole the item to reimburse them. Unless they can prove your item is stolen, I wouldn't worry. If the manager can prove your item is stolen, return it.

You're not out 4300 dollars. You're only out the 1800 you paid the first time. You have to pay the money to buy the item legitimately anyway. How can you be out 4300 dollars?

Lets also assume this is a big hit on your income if you have to buy a new item, and the company that the item was taken from is worth oh... lets say $72 billion-ish... which wouldn't really put a dent in their pocket.

The mentality sucks. You're rationalizing.
posted by LoriFLA at 8:54 PM on October 25, 2007

Did you get a receipt? Did the guy who bought it on your behalf get a receipt? Either way, that's a pretty clear refutation of the suggestion of theft.

If the guy who bought it on your behalf was entitled to the employee discount, and then gave it to you in exchange for the money, that's not likely to be a breach of any actual laws, just company policy.

First thing to do, chase the receipts. Second thing to do, call the manager, make it clear that you paid $1800 for the thing, bought through so-and-so's employee discount, and that you'd like to know why he thinks it's stolen.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 8:57 PM on October 25, 2007

Rape? Jesus.

If it's stolen, it sounds like they're giving you the opportunity to do the right thing without actually accusing you of anything, hence the "guarded" language. It could be that they simply don't want the hassle of trying to get it back if you say no. But they might also decide to fry your butt.

I'd personally give it back and recognize life sometimes sucks that way, and beware of the "trunk of a car" deal. You can always try to get your $1,800 back from your friend.

I'm curious. Is this electronics, computer, software, tools, what?
posted by maxwelton at 8:59 PM on October 25, 2007

IAAL, but IANYL. However, in certain jurisdictions of the US, receipt of stolen property over a certain dollar amount ($500 or so) could earn you a felony charge.
posted by dcjd at 9:06 PM on October 25, 2007

Between the tags and the ambiguity, something tells me we're not talking about a shiny $1800 TV here. If that is the case, my guess is that what we ARE actually talking about here cannot be solved by analogy. Some things don't have material equivalents or price tags...like, oh, rape.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:10 PM on October 25, 2007

Hummercash, it sounds like you already know what you want to do (keep the merchandise) and you're looking for people to give you emotional support in your decision. You're not really looking for advice.

What would I do? I'd acknowledge that sometimes I can't have everything in life that I really want. I'd decide that trying to pull a fast one to get things for cheaper than they should have been is risky, and in this case I've made a mistake. I'd give it back, and since I couldn't afford to buy it for real, I'd do without.

But it's obvious that's not what you've already decided that you want to do.

...and the company that the item was taken from is worth oh... lets say $72 billion-ish... which wouldn't really put a dent in their pocket.

That is completely and totally irrelevant.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:16 PM on October 25, 2007 [2 favorites]

You can't possibly be out more than $2500, unless you have to pay them to take back the item.
posted by oaf at 9:16 PM on October 25, 2007

I would draw the obvious conclusion, which is that my so-called friend had screwed me over by pocketing my money and giving me stolen property.
posted by ottereroticist at 9:26 PM on October 25, 2007

I'm curious. Is this electronics, computer, software, tools, what?

He's described a company with a nationwide store that sells expensive warrantied products that inspire a lot of loyalty ("die for"). It's worth $72B, like Apple last year (Apple's actually worth much more now, but that $72B price is high in Google). So, I'd guess a MacBook.

Apple fired 800 of its own employees for getting false $100 iPhone rebates. If this is really a stolen computer, I'm not sure you want to mess with them.

Indeed, no matter who it is, the stakes are too high. If you don't have a receipt, talk to them without admitting wrongdoing, and be willing to give it back. Take it up with your friend.
posted by Yogurt at 9:33 PM on October 25, 2007

[I removed the rape tag and a few comments that referred only to it]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:33 PM on October 25, 2007

Even though you haven't worked for the company in 7 months, they're still treating this as if you were an employee.

They're doing the right thing by you. When they report the theft to the police, if there is a crime of "receiving stolen goods" where you live you (that's its name in my country) you will be in a lot more trouble.

What I would do would be return the item, and then go after my former friend with whatever means were at my disposal.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:34 PM on October 25, 2007

$1500 isn't much to lose if the price is jail, legal trouble, or long term damage to your reputation. I suspect at least one of these things is on the line.

I think it is best to provide your explanation and see if there is room to negotiate and provide the paperwork you have, if not give the item back and consider the $1500 price of gaining this experience... You are in the wrong here, morally if not legally.

Here comes the folk wisdom:
- "Good deals" always come with hidden obligations, problems, expectations or debts.
- You can't hustle an honest man, because an honest man does not want something for nothing.
- Bad Behaviour breeds Bad Luck
posted by Deep Dish at 9:39 PM on October 25, 2007

I'm confused. So your friend either stole, or illegitimately got a discount on a laptop, and sold it to you for $1800. Now they want you to give it back. So why wouldn't you get that money back from your friend?
posted by chundo at 10:02 PM on October 25, 2007

It doesn't sound to me like the company is screwing you over, it sounds to me like your "friend" screwed you over and leaving you to twist in the wind while the company is trying to give you the chance to keep things cool. If you'd die for this company I'd assume that you'd be willing to at least talk to them about what's going on. If you're willing to die for them I'd assume that you'd be willing to lose $1800 in order to keep up good relations and possibly avoid jail time.
posted by lekvar at 10:05 PM on October 25, 2007

If an item is stolen, the rightful owner will want to recover it. There's nothing wrong with that.

It's the people who sold you the item that you should be upset with. The store has done nothing wrong to you.
posted by winston at 10:06 PM on October 25, 2007

Some things here don't add up. How did the manager know you have this item? Why didn't he contact the police? Has the employee who got you the deal been disciplined?

Is there any possibility this is a scam perpetrated by the manager? He pays an accomplice to get you a five finger discount. He finds you with your hand in the cookie jar. What can you say?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:06 PM on October 25, 2007

you are pretty sure the manager only contacted you and asked for the item back because they knew you personally.

The manager has been made aware that you (a former employee with insider connections) has received a stolen item from the store.

A few possibilities:

- The manager is a super nice guy who just wants to get the item back without anyone having to go to jail. Knowing that once he reports it to the police that they will investigate the person who stole it and probably the person who bought it. In the end he always enjoyed working with you and really doesn't want to see you get in any trouble...

- The manager knows you've got the stolen goods, doesn't care how you got it, has alerted the police and is just waiting for stupid you to show up with the stolen item in possession so he can detain you until the police show up. He always hated your stupid punk face and your dirty back room dealings...

- The manager doesn't know anything, but he heard through the grapevine that you just acquired a shiny new whatever and is taking a chance that it might be the same new shiny new whatever that walked out of his storage room. He doesn't give a rats ass who stole what or who bought whatever... he just wants someone other than himself to take the fall.

Because your have previous connections with the store your involvement is much more substantial that some random guy on the street who bought the item out of the back of a van. Receiving stolen goods in this price range is a big deal... the police are likely to investigate, especially if the manager has done most of their work for them by fingering the thief and the sucker who bought the goods (you.)

A lot depends on what evidence if any the manager has that you're in possession of the stolen goods. You *didn't* tell him you had the item did you?! Where is the goon who sold you the item? Has he been picked up by the cops? Has he ratted you out? You won't be able to make a choice until you know the answer to these questions and more.

At this point I would lawyer up. You've already proved to yourself (and us) that you lack a certain moral fiber (come'on, you didn't really think that your item was in the clear now did you?) The cops will take this into account. Given that you could be walking into a legal trap whether you return the merchandise or keep it your only option is to hope that it some how blows over, or to talk to a lawyer.

Given the seriousness of the crime (we're talking thousands of dollars here) and your legal peril I would NOT advise you to have anymore contact with the manager, the thief you bought the goods from, or anyone else associated with this mess until you get legal advice.
posted by wfrgms at 10:07 PM on October 25, 2007 [3 favorites]

in the end, they really only care about themselves

What? They actually want to get paid for their merchandise? The swine. Comments like that make me not want to listen to you.

Figure this out. Your friend has stolen from two people -- the store, and you. You and the store are both on the same side. Unless you don't want to do the right thing, in which case you're on your own here, and may want to ask Matt to delete this incriminating AskMe.
posted by dhartung at 10:10 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have no idea what's really going on here, but if the computer/whatever that you have, really is stolen, you're potentially in a lot of trouble.

If it was just purchased on somebody's employee discount when they really shouldn't have used the discount (like, because you're not supposed to buy stuff on the discount and then resell it), you're in less trouble, but you're still going to have to give back the computer.

In the former case (stolen), you're going to have to give it back, and then I think you're going to either have to get the police involved (but be careful, you could end up being in trouble since, let's face it, you should have realized something was going on -- you bought it out of the "back of a truck" so to speak) or you're going to end up eating $4000+ bucks. Consider it the price of a lesson in always getting what you pay for, and there never being a free lunch.

However, if it was just that somebody used an employee discount, maybe "return" doesn't mean "give back without getting anything back in return." Maybe you could return it, ring it back in, get back the employee price, then turn around and repurchase it at full (non-discount) value. You'd lose a few hundred dollars (the difference between employee and regular pricing) but you'd stay out of jail. If you can get that as an option, TAKE IT. It basically just corrects the very stupid mistake you made, and lets you walk away from the problem.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:34 PM on October 25, 2007

If you don't give back the stolen merchandise (and likely even if you do) you'll be brought up on felony charges. That's about all you need to consider, I think.
posted by puke & cry at 10:43 PM on October 25, 2007

Give that shit back right now. You know you have to, so just do it. All the other stuff in your post is rationalization.

You are not out $4300. You are out the $1800 you paid your "friend" (you understand that he's ripped you off, right?); you will not die without getting a $2500 laptop right away.

Give it back, and thank the manager for treating you right.
posted by rtha at 10:46 PM on October 25, 2007

So, where's your fence friend in all this? You know, the guy who knows a guy who could get you a great deal?

There are lots of guys who know guys who can get you stuff. In certain parts of the world, there's an assumption that there's an acceptable amount of 'spoilage' between the dockside and the warehouse that keeps the stevedores happy. This doesn't generally extend to four-figure items.

But you happened to light upon an item sold, we all assume, through a rather limited and distinctive retail presence, and which carries a more than somewhat traceable identifier. And you presumably lack all of the useful paperwork that proves it's yours by right.

Now, there is always the slight possibility that the manager has been running a scam whereby product gets sold on, and said manager is trying to clean things up. And by 'slight', I mean Paris catwalk model. The more obvious possibility is that you're left holding the bag.

So, I'll ask again: where's your friend and his friend in all this? You know, the people who appear to have stiffed you out of a couple of thousand dollars?
posted by holgate at 10:47 PM on October 25, 2007

You're basically asking for permission to get away with what you know is a crime. Ignorance is no excuse when it comes to possession of stolen goods. They may not be able to do *much* to you, but you will lose the item and possibly be charged - especially now that you clearly *get* that it was stolen goods. They're giving you a chance to come clean; please take it. It's the right thing to do. You're looking for a justification to be dishonest (otherwise, that mention of what the company's worth and whether or not it would hurt them wouldn't be necessary.)

Again, you're not out $4300, just $1800. And for that, I'd take said "friend" to small claims court.

But to answer your question, I'd return it, because yes, there ARE legal repercussions. And the fact the store knows you possess some of their merchandise should be reason enough to suspect you'll get hit if you don't act honorably now.

Second time I've said it today, but if it sounds too good to be true . . .
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:07 PM on October 25, 2007

addedum: Your title, "A company I would die for is screwing me over hard..." is a bit offensive, since they're doing nothing but what they're supposed to be doing.


I've got to believe you knew that these business discounts were probably only really meant to be used by employees for themselves (and hey, you DID work there!)

And what's wrong with people anyway? If you "don't really have" what the item costs, then guess what? You shouldn't buy it.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:11 PM on October 25, 2007

Sounds like he got in trouble for using his personal discount. While Computer Company isn't too terribly strict about that kind of thing (usually only freaking out when employees buy cheap machines and sell for full price on eBay), there was that phone rebate scandal recently and they are probably keeping a closer eye on retail employees. I'm sure that many got away with this stuff a year ago.

See if you can strike a deal with the manager and get a price adjustment in their favor and use the 15% friends and family discount instead. It will be a few extra hundred, but it seems like a good compromise.

Computer Company's lawyers are pretty vicious, watch yourself.
posted by idiotfactory at 11:28 PM on October 25, 2007

IdiotFactory, you're making the assumption that Computer Company got any money at all for the Merchandise. We don't know that.

OP got told the Merchandise was stolen. That suggests that Computer Company received 0$ which means that a "price adjustment" makes no sense.

No. Do not negotiate. Do not try to strike a deal. Give the Merchandise back, curse at your friend, kiss your money good bye, and learn from the experience.

You cannot have this pony. It's not yours.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:33 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

I agree that negotiating is a terrible tactic.

I would tell them no more than you have to, but that you have paid someone for this laptop in good faith, and I would ask them to provide proof that it's stolen.

As the price of the item is fairly high, a lawyer might not hurt. At the very least a lawyer should be able to tell you your options, what kind of legal action against you can expect, etc.
posted by RustyBrooks at 11:44 PM on October 25, 2007 [3 favorites]

the regional manager calls you and says you are in possession of a stolen item

and to be honest with you, even if he did know it wasn't legit, he was trying to do me a favor, there wasn't any malicious intent on his part, just a lack of good judgement

Those statements are contradictory. Stealing an item isn't a lack of good judgment or just doing a favor, it's absolutely with malicious intent.

Obviously you should be aware by now that you need to return the item. INAAL but maybe you can talk to that regional manager and see if they got any of that money but from the phrasing it sounds like your "friend" out and out stole the item and you might have to take him to court.

But at the end of the day look at this as an $1800 lesson, assuming you don't get any money back whatsoever. And, just to be clear, you're out $1800, not $4300 (that's a ridiculous stretch), and it's absolutely your fault and your friend's fault, not the company screwing you over.
posted by 6550 at 11:47 PM on October 25, 2007

The manger is screwing this up and making it much harder for you than it should be. It really sounds like he's trying to protect the guy who stole the stuff in the first place by not going the legal route (charging the guy with theft) and appealing to your conscience. That's some BS. You made a good-faith purchase from a friend. They had an item stolen. They need to report that theft and let the law do its work.

Since the manager is interested in NOT going through the proper channels and keeping it "between friends," you do have leverage to make a deal. Tell him you'll give it back if he helps you get your money back.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:48 PM on October 25, 2007

You're in the poo.

It's possible you could be charged with something like receiving stolen goods, but there's probably plausible deniability so you might not be convicted.

If you and your friend put your heads together to take advantage of his staff discount, you might be up for "gaining property by deception", also known as fraud.
posted by robcorr at 1:53 AM on October 26, 2007

Oh, and I doubt it's stolen. The company is just cracking down on illegitimate use of staff discounts, and they regard you and your friend as having stolen the difference between the discounted and retail prices.

And as I said, there's probably a case that your friend committed fraud, and possibly you, too.
posted by robcorr at 1:56 AM on October 26, 2007

(I have a law degree, but I'm not a lawyer. You should consult one.)
posted by robcorr at 1:59 AM on October 26, 2007

A company I would die for

But apparently not give stolen property back to. You commitment appears to be to something other than the company.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:10 AM on October 26, 2007

Maybe I'm reading this differently, but just because the manager says you're in posession of a stolen item, doesn't mean the item wasn't paid for. If he's saying you don't HAVE to give it back, then that leads me to believe that the item was paid for. It takes a certain amount of naivete to take a corporate retail manager at his word. The type of thinking that leads to saying the item is "stolen property" when it was paid for is the type of thinking that get's you hired as a regional manager. The ability to take company business way too personally is the hallmark of middle managers everywhere.

Some might argue that the person who bought the computer using their employee discount paid a price that the company decided was valid under certain situations. If this person was dishonest about the situation, or found a loophole, then that's between him and the company. Your transaction with him is none of their business. He owes them $1800, not you. People who think this way never get to be regional managers. They either end up owning the company, or unemployed.

Probably not the popular view, or maybe I just live in a very different world than a lot of you. In my world people buy things on other people's employee discounts. Things fall off of trucks. Someone always has a hookup or a connection. Deals get made. Corners get cut. Sometimes someone gets the short end of the stick. Sometimes you gotta sack up and take the heat, sometimes you don't. I've seen it on the street, and I've seen it in the conference rooms of big business. Is it against the rules? Yes. Would the world be a better place if things like this didn't happen? Maybe. Is there an absolute morality? Beats me.

If the manager said you don't HAVE to return it, but they would appreciate it if you did, then I would respond that they don't HAVE to give you your $1800 bucks back, but you would appreciate it if they did. Which sounds to me like it's question of conscience, not of legality or morality. It's really up to you to decide what you can live with, and what you can't.

Sounds to me like you can live with keeping said item. If not, then you really should try a little harder to keep your nose clean in the future.
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:15 AM on October 26, 2007 [2 favorites]

Perhaps I'm missing something here, but if this really is a story about a wrongfully issued staff discount, why don't you just offer the company the difference between the discount price and the full price to make up the difference?

Personally, I don't see how you're obliged to. Employee buys goods on his staff discount. Employee gets tired of said goods. Employee sells goods on with no profit involved. I don't see how they can force an employee to keep a product that they've bought and no longer have any use for. Also, most companies generally have a limit on the amount that employees can buy at a discount. Fords will only let you buy one new car every three years or whatever to minimize the impact of this. Presumably, this company has a similar policy?

If this is the case, then legally I think it's your buddy who actually owes them the difference, but as he was doing you a favour, you should stump up.

Of course, if it was actually stolen, all bets are off and you'll have to give it back eventually, or live with the risk of a receiving charge. However, it was obviously your friend the employee who gave you up, so a visit to reclaim your original $1800, accompanied by our friend Mr. Baseball Bat might be in order.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:23 AM on October 26, 2007

Consult a lawyer.
posted by arimathea at 4:52 AM on October 26, 2007

Gonna throw a couple things out there:
1. Yea, you should have known better. Things that seem to good to be true usually are.
2. He said you don't have to give it back, which is weird. He didn't say they'd press charges, which is weird.
3. They aren't going to resell it, it's open-box, used, stolen/improperly handled merchandise.
4. I would have asked the manager to explain to me how it was stolen. "Cuz a manager said so" isn't good enough for me. Perhaps he really wants a $2400 item for his office, or home?
5. Really, and IANAL (BIHDTITBH) (But I have done time in the bighouse), it's about impossible to really pursue you legally in this. You bought an item used from a friend, w/ no way of knowing it was stolen. Never say anything about a discount or anything, you simply bought a computer from a friend. They can make you give it back, but you're not going to jail w/o explicit knowledge of it being stolen.
6. You really should have known better, especially if you worked there before.
7. Sometimes, with the PO-PO and criminality (or civil cases), it's simply better to cut your losses, pay your dues, and make it go AWAY.
8. Giving back the item may, in some places, make you look guilty and royally screw you with the Po-Po. Why'd you give it back if you didn't think it was stolen? Giving it back is certainly not guaranteed to make the problem go away.
posted by TomMelee at 7:06 AM on October 26, 2007

To recover your money, assuming you gave the item back, you would have to take your friend to court. To have a case he would have to prosecuted for the theft.

I'd say tell the store to call in the police. Make a plea deal with the police to avoid prosecution if you turn in the thief. Turn in your friend and then sue him or take him to court. A "friend" isn't a friend if he is taking several grand of your money for stolen goods.
posted by JJ86 at 7:22 AM on October 26, 2007

You should probably talk to a lawyer. There's the chance that giving it back is essentially admitting you were guilty of a crime.
posted by drezdn at 7:23 AM on October 26, 2007


Look, you really have to tell us what the fuck is going on here, because you're getting a lot of advice that may or may not be good, depending on the specifics of the situation. Like, if it was just an employee discount, depending upon the terms of the employee contract, it may be totally legit. Or your friend may have pocketed the cash and swiped a laptop, in which case, yeah, time to give it back and be pissed at the friend.

But if the friend paid for it, there should be a pretty easily obtainable record. Your first step should be "Hey, man, your manager is sweating me over this. Can I see the receipt so I know what I'm into the next time I talk to him?" You might want to tell your pal to look at company policy regarding employee discount, just to cover his ass.

Until then, who the fuck knows what's going on? Not you, not us.
posted by klangklangston at 7:49 AM on October 26, 2007

I think it matters whether your friend actually stole the Shiney Thing or not. If he did, you're both somewhat screwed, see the "give it back" advice above. But if he just violated store policy by buying something at a discount and reselling it to you, I'm not sure that the store can force you to give it back just because it was a breach of store policy.

The "we'd like you to give it back" language is strange, and could be diced up in any number of ways.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:52 AM on October 26, 2007

I understand that this is kind of an upsetting situation, I really do, and in your place I might be doing exactly what you are - but stop talking about it, and stop looking for advice on the internets. We cannot help you - not properly anyway. And you don't want the illusion of help we can provide, no matter how much you think you do right now.

We don't know enough about the backstory or the people involved or the possible (legal, financial, career, etc) ramifications.

The $1800 or $4300 or however much shouldn't be your focus right now. Forget it, write it off as the cost of doing business. The ramifications I mentioned - that's what you need to worry about. You have to figure out what those are - and if that means talking to a lawyer, do it. Until you figure it out, don't admit anything, and don't try talking your way out of stuff.

I'm not your lawyer, but I was a criminal defense lawyer once upon a time.
posted by KAS at 8:23 AM on October 26, 2007

I agree that it is unlikely you would do any time for this one. I have a friend that bought a car from an ad in the paper. It was good deal so he didn't investigate it very deeply but of course the car turned out to be stolen. Mr. Plod came-a-calling and he had to forfeit the car. He was out of pocket, but as he had bought the car in "good faith" he wasn't charged with anything (except he should have been charged with stupidity).

Nothing personal, but I am guessing you knew something was not completely kosher, but went ahead with getting the discounted whatever anyway. That doesn't make you a thief, but it does make you liable for either a) returning said dishonestly obtained item or b) offering to pay the difference (assuming it was bought using bogus discount and not just lifted).
posted by worker_bee at 8:46 AM on October 26, 2007

I'll just reiterate: where is your friend in all of this? Has he skedaddled? Because he may well owe you $1800 right now.

Trouble is, we really don't know the facts, and it's hard to know what's actually going on -- the manager clamping down on use of employee discounts and using overblown language? who knows?
posted by holgate at 9:38 AM on October 26, 2007

You shouldn't give the item back to the store in any case.

If it was stolen, it should be turned over to the police, not simply returned to the store. Let the police investigate it.

If it was legitimately purchased by someone using an employee discount, then you haven't done anything wrong, and the item is legitimately yours. The employee who originally bought it may have been abusing his employee discount, but that's between the store and him.

If you don't know whether it was stolen or not, talk to a lawyer. But I suspect a lawyer would find it very curious that the store manager alleges it was stolen, yet has not (to our knowledge) filed a police report.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:41 AM on October 26, 2007

"Apple fired 800 of its own employees for getting false $100 iPhone rebates."

This is not true, by the way.
posted by drstein at 9:43 AM on October 26, 2007

There really isn't enough information here to determine whether or not you could be at fault. If you have a receipt or other proof of sale (which I'm guessing you don't, because if you did, you'd know it wasn't stolen), then you should be in the clear. If you don't have proof of sale, contact your friend and try to get it ASAP. If he's dodgy, then something is probably up. If he can provide it however, if I were in your shoes, I'd keep the Shiny Thing.

I've got a friend who works for a big games company and he was able to get me their new console and a bunch of accessories on his employee discount. I reimbursed him for what he paid and ended up saving about $100 on the whole deal (since I got it for the US price instead of the inflated "you're in Canada, so pay up" price). I got a receipt and knew it was totally legit. Having friends get you merch using their discount isn't necessarily illegal (and it might not ever be). That alone isn't anything to worry about, but the phone call from the manager is a little weird. Get proof of sale ASAP. If you can't, start talking to a lawyer.
posted by Nelsormensch at 9:48 AM on October 26, 2007

"Apple fired 800 of its own employees for getting false $100 iPhone rebates."

This is not true, by the way.

What happened then?
posted by drezdn at 10:06 AM on October 26, 2007

You have every right to expect documentation of theft from the company. Ask for more information. Then do the right thing. If it was stolen, you must return it. Then you go after the friend, and the friend's friend to get your money back. You are not likely to be successful, and you get to whine about it for 1 full day.
posted by theora55 at 10:14 AM on October 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Let me take a different approach to this. It may be way off as details are sketchy. And, of course, IANAL.

What if you were to call the police and let them know you suspect an item you purchased x-months ago might be stolen?

Let them investigate the store and the manager. Normal procedure for a theft doesn’t follow the lines of a store manager calling you on the stolen items, then saying you don't have to return it. If an incident had been reported to the police, you would have them knocking at your door.
If this manager is trying to pull something on you, this may expose it.
If this manager is trying to get money back from the sale of an employee sale, you're in the clear. Give him the finger and tell him to watch his employees more closely.
If the item is actually stolen, by being the one to bring it to the police's attention, you can wash your hands of this whole mess, and go about getting your money back from your friend.
posted by enobeet at 10:26 AM on October 26, 2007 [2 favorites]

if it is stolen then there should be a police report specifying the serial number.

If they can provide you with this then you should probably give it back ... before you hear from the police in a less than pleasant way.

Otherwise tell them to go jump.


posted by jannw at 10:27 AM on October 26, 2007

« Older What does Orbitz mean by "business traveler"?   |   How can you tell if a girl likes you? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.