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Money Moral Dilemma: Should I sell the books I got for free from my old job?

edited 23 November 2021 at 1:56PM in Ebay, auctions, car boot sales, post & parcels
42 replies 24.8K views


  • taintain Forumite
    702 Posts
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    Give them to a Charity shop. Rather than have an MSE "moral dilemma" . Help your local hospice which has probably struggled with fund raising throughout the pandemic. 
    This doesn't offer any solution to the actual dilemma. The decision on if the books were theirs to sell or give away still exists. 
  • taintain Forumite
    702 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 500 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    I wouldn't ask my old boss or HR if they're to be returned, I'd ask a colleague who could do some digging on the hush hush or who may know if they're mine and if I can do what I want with them. Someone who had been at the company for ages. 
  • squirrel59squirrel59 Forumite
    38 Posts
    Fifth Anniversary 10 Posts
    You say they were 'given' to you, ergo they are yours. You can set them on fire if you like.
  • meknowalot-51meknowalot-51 Forumite
    237 Posts
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    If these specialist books are official government types which hold certain information not released to the general public then i wouldn't.Who gave you the books?,was it the shop floor foreman or the actual Boss and what was said when given.If these books we're given to you by a long term member of staff who said to you,"take a copy,we all do that and have done for years" then again i would say,don't.The best way forward is to check that you are within your rights to sell and that will involve contacting your previous employer.Some books produced are not for sale to the general public for a reason and it's down to you to find out if these fall into that catagory.The only types of "specialist" that springs to mind are medical,military or government,what are yours?
       These books you have could also be totally normal types found for sale down any high street,insects,plants etc.,in which case you can sell,as long as you were genuinely given the books by your employer.
  • heathenlokoheathenloko Forumite
    1 Post
    First Post
    You've more than earned them, even if you don't want them. Think of all the surplus value the company has extracted and banked from your labour before worrying about any moral duty to them.

    More pragmatically, stuff like this is a grey area and as it's not a laptop, car or company house that retains more use or exchange value, there can be no reasonable expectation that you hand it over - it's a consumer item that depreciates in value considerably, and if they did expect it back they would have to accept it could be well thumbed with dog-ear corners and coffee stains, and the lack of communication from them before/immediately after you left means it is also reasonable for you to get rid of them in any way you want. They've got as much right to ask for them back as you have to ask them to send someone to pick them up and also charge them for storing their property.
  • NBLondonNBLondon Forumite
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    Check your contract?  That should tell you if the books were expected to be returned.
    Obvious answer.  Or indeed, when you were first given them, wouldn't you check whether this was supposed to be a work tool that stayed in the office or a gift?  And if it was returnable, then that would have been stated in your contract/policy/handbook and when your notice was accepted.

    Mind you, companies do forget about this.   Many years ago, I worked for an IT company that did work for the Olympics.  We were all given a limited edition Swatch (not generally on sale) as a bonus.  2/3 of them were on eBay next day,  The company tried to forbid re-selling when they realised but didn't have a leg to stand on as there was nothing in writing or with the item when it was given out.
    Wash your Knobs and Knockers... Keep the Postie safe!
  • Legally the books are yours as they were a gift. However, by contacting your previous employer first and asking them if they would like the books back as no interest to yourself, would show you in a positive light and potentially open any doors for future lucrative employment with them.
  • TheMsTealeTheMsTeale Forumite
    62 Posts
    10 Posts
    They were given to you as a gift, so you are free to do what you want with them. Tbh it would probably seem a bit odd to them if you sent them back to them or suddenly showed up offering to hand them back!
  • yorkie22yorkie22 Forumite
    24 Posts
    Eighth Anniversary 10 Posts Combo Breaker
    If your still in contact with the company ask someone about the books. If they have given them to you then they are yours. If your not sure just ask. Nothing worse than assuming they are yours then you sell them then someone from the company contacts you for them back. A niece of mine ( some years ago ) borrowed a Michael Jackson LP I had. When I eventually asked for it back she said she had sold it, she assumed I did'nt  want it back. She assumed too much. :(:(
  • ThrugelmirThrugelmir Forumite
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    MalMonroe said:
    I'd sell them, if I could. Giving them to a charity shop, if they are specialised books, will be a waste of time because nobody wants to buy that kind of book from charities.

    I know of an Oxfam shop that is only books. Always extremely busy. As a resource for all kinds of reading material. 
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