Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A Grim Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a busy businessman called Mike. He had a lot to do, a lot to worry about all the time, and he did not have much help. Every problem seemed to land on his desk. Broken printers, a chair with one missing wheel...you name it, Mike got lumbered with it. But Mike was a competent sort of bloke. He got through it all and hid the broken and no longer wanted stuff in his storeroom. It was easier than doing anything else and he did not have any time.

So the telephone call was a godsend. Electrical waste? Mike agreed that he did have some. He was asked for a list but he did not have time to do one. He just talked his manna from heaven through what he knew he had. No worries, his new friend Arthur said. You seem to have quite a lot there mate. How about we send the van over tomorrow?

Mike was actually delighted. He was longing to get rid of all the rubbish, because the boss had moaned a bit when last he ventured down from the ivory tower. But Mike was no fool, and he had a conscience. He was a nice bloke, as well as competent. What are you going to do about my data and what happens to the equipment? And how much?

Oh no charge mate, Arthur informed him with delight. We are a charity so we collect for free and we will donate working equipment to schools and whatnot. Abroad. Probably. But don’t worry about your data Mike, we deal with all of that. See you tomorrow mate. And Mike found himself agreeing with Arthur but it was for charity so the boss would like that. And he would like the fact that it was not going to cost a penny even more.

Well Mike had to go out to a meeting mid-morning and he missed the actual collection, but he left young Tony to help the driver and Tony knew exactly what had to go. Mike really rather enjoyed his meeting for once, looking forward to a clear storeroom and another thing ticked off his list. It would soon fill up again because accounts were getting new desks and would want him to clear the old ones of course, but he would have the room.

Except he did not have the room. Not all of it at any rate. Arthur’s men had been all right, and they had taken all of the desktops, the laptops, the server and some printers, but they had not taken the broken desks, or the chairs, or the fax machine, or the big boxes full of phone handsets, keyboards and mice. Mike rang Arthur to protest, but as Arthur said it was a free collection and they were really only interested in the things that would sell. Sorry mate, Arthur said, I would have told you what we could take if you had given me a proper list.

Mike was very sad. His storeroom was not clear and he needed it to be. Then young Tony showed him a tweet he had seen on his handheld entertainment device or telephone as grownups tend to call them. It said 'So you take the broken stuff too?' No cherry picking No cons No risk. IT Recycling without the bull, call 01342-777550 and speak to Hugh. Something in the message touched Mike’s heart, or perhaps even his soul, and he dialled the number with trembling fingers, hoping that he would be saved.

And he was, in a manner of speaking. In that the boys from eReco cleared Mike’s storeroom in time for his colleagues to fill it again, and Hugh, surely an avenging angel, put Mike right on some of the details of free charity collections and what they do with data.

Mike was happy to be saved but had a nervous little episode trying to find out what Arthur was doing to his old computers in terms of data erasure, and also the paperwork to prove what he was doing to them. Hugh had told Mike that he really ought to have waste transfer notes and asset lists and certificates of data destruction, and that the type of software used to deal with the data was vitally important.

Because data is magic. You might think you have deleted it from everywhere but with the right wand and the wrong software, it can reappear in all the wrong places. And dealing with magic data is not an expensive business really but it is not free either. And neither is responsible recycling. Hugh told Mike distressing stories of barefoot starving children staggering over mountains of old IT kit as they tried to bury it all in the middle of Africa, with a sad giraffe looking on.

But Mike was lucky. His data was not magic and it did not reappear. And the next time he had a storeroom full of things to recycle he would call Hugh and it would all be so much easier, with the paperwork to prove it.

And everyone lived happily ever after. Except Hugh, who was still slightly grumpy about missing out on the first order...