Should I squeal on the local Salvation Army?

I hit the thrift stores a lot in my area, and it has become increasingly evident over the last few years that the local Salvation Army never, ever, ever has any decent PCs, and most of the stuff they do put out is at least 8-10 years old. The local Goodwill on the other hand often has useful PCs for sale. The Salvation army also never has any monitors bigger than a 15 inch units, while the Goodwill has a good number of 17 inchers and occasionally even some 19 inchers.

I have been into the the rear of the SA twice. Once to get a shopping cart (the manager allowed me to go back there and get it), and once to inquire about donating stuff. On the first occasion I saw a nice HP PC that never made it to the sales floor, sitting on the warehouse floor, and the second time there was an entire rollng metal tub full of newish looking PCs and a 17" monitor (last week) that also never appeared on the floor.

This afternoon I felt sorry for a teenager trying to find a working 15" monitor and I asked one of the younger guys working the floor if there were going to put out the metal tub with the PCs I had seen, because this kid needed one. He acted quite surprised I had seen it, and then said that those were all going to be thrown away.

I’ve been geeking around for almost 20 years. I’m not a complete fool when it comes to older PC hardware, and I know what newer PCs look like, and to me this was a transparent lie. I have no hard proof theat the nicer PC stuff is being stolen, but I do know that up until about 2 years ago they did used to have some decent PC stuff, and then suddenly the supply vanished. I don’t want to cause these people trouble, and I have no concrete proof other than my observations and suspicions, but IMO something is filtering out any usable PC s and better monitors from the sales floor.

Do I call the regional HQ or keep my mouth shut?


If you want something to be done, call your local news station. They’ll put some investigative reporters on it. They’ll get to the bottom of it.

Am I missing the problem here?

Ok, so somebody there is getting to donated PCs before they go to the sales floor?

No, still not seeing the problem.

If they’re *not paying[/] for them, OK, I see your problem. That’s theft. If they’re buying them before you can, it’s unfortunate but hardly worth getting your panties in bunch, no?

Are the PCs being donated specifiaclly to be sold - perhaps the Salvation Army is putting them to use within the organisation, thereby saving more money that they would make if sold? Perhaps they are passing them on to poor households who have kids in school and can’t afford a PC of thier own?

There are a lot of conclusions to choose from before leaping to “theft”…


They may also be donating them to churchs and schools. You just never know until you ask someone in charge what is being done with the PCs.

Request to speak with a manager or talk to their HQs and ask what is the normal policy on donated “nice” PC hardware. Is it resold or distributed out to schools and such. I personally wouldn’t jump to the conclusion of someone stealing until I had more information.

The Salvation Army is, itself, a church.

Therefore, donations to it may be handled according to the rules set up by the church. Freedom of religion and all that.

The Salvation Army does a significant amount of disaster relief work, and assists people in need in the community. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if donated newer model PC’s weren’t put towards this effort, rather than sold in a thrift store.

If you have any issues at all with this, I’d suggest not donating or shopping there. You have the freedom of not supporting a church in its works, too.

I got to the Salvation Army in various locations around Boston all the time - several times per month. They all have signs that the SA no longer accepts computers and monitors, because 1) they often aren’t usable; and 2) the the SA has to pay to dispose of them. It’s illegal to throw them in the trash in MA.

Maybe the ones you are seeing are left there (there is usually an off-hours drop-off corner) and since they aren’t supposed to be accepting them, they don’t put them out on the floor? Neither computers nor monitors are listed on the national Web site’s page for estimating value of donated items.

Also, I would guess that they can’t put the ones they do end up with on the floor - just because they received them in error - because then even more people will bring theirs in, saying, “But you always have them out there!” So they dispose of them. They could even be donating them to another organization, I suppose, but I can tell you that is a big giant pain in the ass - I’ve had to organize these kinds of donations several times for my office and it’s a lot of work.

Geez, astro, first it’s thrift sotre employees, and now the Salvation Army.

Are you the second-hand police? :smiley:

Yeah, I work with Seinfeld’s Library cop.

If the items are being used in some fashion by the SA, that’s no big deal. It’s obvious they’re not turning away stuff at the door, as they were ready to accept some older PCs I wanted to get rid of. It’s simply when you have two similar organizations, and one is showing nothing but the oldest trash on the floor, and the other one has the regular items you woud expect to be coming in from people upgrading PCs it raises questions, as did the “throw away” bins of PCs that were (to my eye) in a lot better shape and newer than anything on the floor.

In reading the responses and thinking about the overall ramifications of the situation , I’ve concluded that I realy don’t have info about what’s going on and it’s not worth getting involved. Let 'em be.

Do the monitors in the bin even work? Some people, for some reason, look at Goodwill and Sallies as a junkyard, and that’s unfortunate. They’ll unload crap on them (maybe it’s useful, most likely not, lets dump it off on them), and get a sense of philanthropy from it.

I’d keep quiet about it, as their business practices, really, are none of your business.