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Guy Returns $15,000 In Lost Checks to Laundry Locker, Gets Nothing

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It’s not every day you find $15,000 worth of other people’s checks randomly sitting in a recycling bin. It’s even more unusual when you happen to be living in a van. But that’s exactly what happened to reader Jacob Young, who did promptly return the entire 15 grand of lost checks to laundry delivery startup Laundry Locker. His reward for this was absolutely nothing.

Here we see a check for $13,920, which was found just cold sitting in a recycling bin about a month ago. “I was doing my regular rounds of recycling and I was in the Bayview,” Young tells, describing his cruising for bottles and cans. “I picked up this bag that had cans and receipts and mail.”

“I thought it was one of those checks that was some kind of stupid promotion,” Young says of his first reaction. “I thought, ‘That marketing is really good because those look like real checks. I opened up the bag a little more and I saw there was all these checks.”

Indeed, the checks were real, totaling the whopping sum of $15,122.93. The checks were made out to Laundry Locker, a sort of app-based laundry pickup and dropoff service headquartered in the India Basin neighborhood of the Bayview.

“I looked them up, I called them to let them know I found [the checks] on the street,” Young says. “I just wanted to give someone a heads up that something had been found. The dates on the checks were pretty recent, like, the last couple weeks. So they may not have even noticed that these weren’t received yet. What I wanted to prevent for them was having to put to their clients on notice [for non-payment].”

Young’s attempt to return the checks did not go as smoothly as planned, though he did eventually find someone at the Laundry Locker reception desk. “I opened my bag to give her the checks and the first thing she said was, ‘These are probably just employees’ pay stubs.’ I was like, ‘No they’re not,’” he claims. Young urged the person at the reception desk to not throw them away.

“She looked at me and said ‘We can’t give you anything,’” according to Young. “I didn’t even ask for anything. It was just  really rude and very weird.”

Like many businesses, Laundry Locker has a policy of not offering rewards on returns of stolen items on suspicion that it may encourage similar thefts in the future.

“I got an email from the CEO, it was very formal,” Young says. “He was very clear in letting me know that there were cameras in different locations, and it was a federal offense and blah blah blah.”

Young felt he was being treated as a suspect in the theft, despite returning the checks. “If you have all those cameras, you can tell it’s not me. I’ve already come into your business. At that point it was rude to me to give me an email like that. You could have looked at your own videotape that you were telling me about. You have the videotape of me coming in, and you’d know. Whatever happened, it wasn’t me.”

There is a valid ethical debate on whether lost items of enormous value should be offered rewards for their return. (This is a particularly touchy subject in the high-value art world.) We cannot say for sure whether it is fair or wise to offer rewards for stolen or lost items. But we can say for sure that if you use Laundry Locker, you might want to think twice before paying by sending a check in the mail.

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Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura is a two-bit marketing writer who excels at the homoerotic double-entendre. He is training to run a full marathon completely drunk and high, and his work has appeared in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on days when their editors made particularly curious decisions.