Thrift store manager's laptop sold - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Thrift store manager's laptop sold

Mistake led to purchase of computer; woman willing to buy it back

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Posted: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - Someone got quite a deal at the Women's Center Thrift Store last week.

A Dell Inspiron laptop only two years old, complete with a black nylon carrying case, charger and power pack - as well as Sandra Bechthold's daily planner - for just $5.

The problem is, none of it was for sale.

"Shocked," said Bechthold, thrift store manager, of when she discovered her personal laptop had been sold by accident on July 12.

It was just a slip up, an easy mistake at a busy store that could happen anywhere, she said.

But after a week of no one responding to her ads that she wants to buy it back, it's still kind of a bummer.

"It was just a sad mistake," she said.

The day of the sale Bechthold had been conducting business off site, she said, and had to leave the store in the hands of less experienced volunteers, though one paid staff member was present.

She doesn't know how her laptop ended up among the items in the donation receiving room, but materials tend to get picked up and set around all day long, she said.

She had instructed the workers to leave all electronic devices on the testing bench in the receiving room, but the computer was still mistakenly taken to the counter, without a price tag.

Store policy dictates that items are not to be sold before they have been priced, but in the chaos of the busy store, someone made a harried decision to do otherwise.

"The universes converged and that happened," Bechthold said.

The volunteer said she decided on the price of $5 because she had once seen a laptop with no software sold for that price, Bechthold said.

"This wasn't that. It was fully loaded with a carrying case, power cord and everything," she said.

Bechthold was unsure how much the whole package is actually worth, but she said that doesn't matter now.

Anne Chatfield, executive director of the Women's Center, said the nonprofit doesn't hold any volunteers at fault for the situation.

The staff is grateful for all its volunteers, she added, whether they are helping with the thrift store or crisis intervention or picking up donations.

"We don't have the money in this agency to be able to support as many full-time staffers as we need. These volunteers are really the heartbeat of this agency," she said. "It really does make a difference for the families we serve."

Bechthold took out a classified ad and put up a sign about the incident in the store window last week, with the hopes the buyer would sell the laptop back to her.

"My ad said I'm willing to buy it back. I leave that open," she said of how much she would pay.

No luck so far.

She's accepted it.

"I just consider it part of life. Nobody ever promised that this wouldn't happen, and in the grand scheme of things it could have been much worse," Bechthold said. "It's a terrible loss, but the conclusion I've come to is it can be replaced and the data on it can be recreated."

Just in case, her classified ad said to call 699-0844 with any information.

The accident has prompted the store to take a closer look at avoiding such an accident in the future, she added.

"The lesson is stronger guidelines on this type of thing," she said.

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    This is surely one interesting story. The laptop can be replaced but I hope that the manager had content security software installed on his computer. If the person who bought the laptop isn't honest enough, well, sensitive data could end up in the wrong hands.

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  • Petermarf posted at 8:11 pm on Wed, Aug 24, 2011.

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    The day of the sale Bechthold had been conducting business off site, she said, and had to leave the store in the hands of less experienced volunteers, though one paid staff member was present.
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    This is wonderful. Kudos to those young people for being so selfless, caring and giving. Simply heartwarming!!

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  • annekingsy posted at 8:56 am on Wed, Jul 6, 2011.

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    I have to say that one lucky person bought that laptop. Did you have any sensitive data on it that could have put you in trouble? I hope that the new owner will have antispyware software installed on that computer so nothing bad happens.

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