Selling Old Computers - Ex-Work Equipment - Legality

dercompsales

Novice Member
Hi Guys,

I've currently got some computers/laptops that I've inherited from work (current and past employers) which I no longer use or is in decent condition and needs a new home.

The equipment may be registered to the companies I've worked for, but I'd be selling the units under my own name.

Is there any legal issues I might come across? I'm not too sure how much detail the likes of Lenovo and Dell have on their machines (service tags/serial numbers related), so thought I'd ask to get a better idea of whether its OK to do so.

Thanks
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Get written permission from your current and former employers to dispose of the laptops. They are their property unless they signed them over to you, even if they have written them off.

Most company's IT and security policy will require hard drives to be not only wiped but physically destroyed these days, so you will need to factor in the cost to replace this and put a new OS on, as the version on the current PC was probably licensed to the company and cannot be transferred. If the laptops came from small companies who purchased them with individual copies of the OS, you can usually re-use the licence key, but corporate drive images used by larger companies generally cannot.

If you just re-format the drive, reload the OS and sell it on, you run the risk of someone recovering data from the PC, which could land you with a hefty fine from the ICO and action from your current employer! The company I work for has a dedicated IT disposal site and all obsolete IT equipment has to be returned to them for recycling. I could not even give my old laptop to a colleague, as they block new logins until the encrypted drive is wiped is re-imaged.

The manufacturers would not get involved unless the goods were flagged as stolen, but even then, there's very little they can do, as they cannot normally remotely kill a PC. Drivers are commonly available and you would not be attempting to access any form of support. They might retain a PC or laptop if it was sent to them for repair, but I doubt if even that would happen!

In short, I guess it depends where the laptop came from. If it was from a small company, then I don't see any massive issues so long as they agree and you remove all possibilities of data being accessed , but disposing of a corporate laptop might cause you more headaches!
 

maf1970

Well-known Member
What sort of age of machine are you talking about ??

Get written permission from your current and former employers to dispose of the laptops. They are their property unless they signed them over to you, even if they have written them off.
definately required and also ask the company to confirm that they have been written off / removed from the assets database. You may also need them to update registration details with the manufacturer.

Larger companies nowadays tend to lease equipment so all of it has to be returned to the manufacturer at some point.
Those that purchase their kit tend to install their own images for company use. At the end of life most tend to just remove the hard drives as this is easier than erasing them properly.(Full erasure of a drive can take a day or longer dependent on requirements). The thing to look for here is a COA sticker as this means the machine was supplied with a standard install of windows and can be returned to this. However no company I have ever come across does this,they just remove the drive and sell the machine on. There is nothing stopping the new owner from installing a new drive and reinstalling windows using the COA.

The only problem you would have with manufacturers would be if the machine was still under warranty and you were looking for a fix as they ask for confirmation of the registration details. Again very unlikely as a company is not going to part with kit still in warranty.

They might retain a PC or laptop if it was sent to them for repair, but I doubt if even that would happen!
Apple are the only ones who actively retain stolen kit and contact the police.
 

Darren Heal

Active Member
+1
Get proof of purchase (even if they only charge you a penny or a Pound per unit) and then the HARD-ware is yours to do with as you see fit.

On the software side, I would factor in just replacing the hard disks entirely regardless. I very much doubt the average small business is going to worry that much, but you never know. Small capacity disk drives are very cheap these days, even small capacity SSDs don't break the bank.

As a precautionary tale, about 20 years ago, a young lass just out of sixth form got a job working for a subsea contractor in Aberdeen, and was given a PC that had been re-assigned within her place of work. The day after she started the PC started to play up. The company audited "her" PC and found it chock-full of, um, "exotic imagery not safe for children" if you get my drift, downloaded over the company's internet connection, it turned out by the previous user (who had just been sacked). They fired the girl. She took them to an industrial tribunal. She won two years' pay and a written apology. My point here is that even if the hard drive doesn't contain business information, it could contain, um, "other stuff", that could land YOU in hot water.
 

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