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  • Lani Byrd

Is your lost-and-found disposal method hurting your guest experience?

If the experience of your guest was a good one, you can expect them to want to share it online or talk about it with others. Beware that this step goes both ways. If guests aren’t happy about their time and journey, they’ll share this too, which means that your brand reputation could be impacted. What does this have to do with how you handle the lost items that a guest has left behind? We will explore three common disposal methods that could be hurting your bottom-line guest experience. Then we will examine the best way to dispose of these sensitive items and secure that 5-star rating from your guests!


1. You sell unclaimed items online

Selling electronics such as cell phones, tablets, jewelry, and other high-end items online may seem appealing. Why not filter a few extra bucks back into your company? I mean, your guests never came to claim the item so they must not have wanted it, right? The truth is, sometimes life gets busy, and your guest may not contact you until after your hold period expires for their lost item. When they do, how will they feel when they find out that you sold their iPad with all their personal and sensitive information to a stranger? How would you feel? A factory reset does not permanently delete personal data. Not only have you now set your company up for a bad guest experience review, but you have also put yourself in a situation of potential liability.


2. You donate items to a local charity

Picture this scenario: Your customer contacts you after your hold period and learns that you donated their cell phone to a local charity. Great! They are on the right track to locating their lost item. They contact the charity and find out that their device was sold to a third party and that the contents were never properly deleted. Their personal information is now who knows where, leaving your guest furious at your company, and considering a lawsuit since you did not dispose of their sensitive item in a secure way. Since the item was in your hands initially, the liability falls on your shoulders, not the charity you donated the item to. Ouch!


3. You gift the unclaimed item to your employees

This one seems obvious. Why on earth would you gift a guest’s lost item to your employee? Some businesses do this to reward their employees for following company protocol and turning the item into lost-and-found. Perhaps the housekeeper finds a nice iPhone that was left behind. The housekeeper is buddies with you, the manager. You quietly slip the phone into the back of your drawer until your hold period is over, and then give it to your employee to reward them for their hard work. No harm, no foul, right? How would you feel if this had been your item and you found out how the company was rewarding their employees? It happens. Imagine the online review that now shows up across the internet.


The wisest course of action is this: Choose a guaranteed secure data-erasure and disposal method for the electronic devices left behind in lost-and-found.


In 2014, the 911 Cell Phone Bank (911CPB), a 501(c)(3) organization, created the DATA-SECURE program to help lost-and-found and property-and-evidence departments safely and securely dispose of the electronic devices in their possession. By utilizing third-party verification software, the 911CPB guarantees complete data erasure of all electronic devices according to the DOD NIST 800-88 Rev. 1 guidelines. Erasure is compliant with all data privacy regulations and guidelines including ISO 27001 and ISO 27040.


The program is 100% free (including shipping), tax-deductible, and guaranteed secure. Donated cellphones are repurposed and distributed to law enforcement and victim agencies to assist victims of human trafficking and domestic violence.


Visit www.911cellphonebank.org for more information and to donate unclaimed devices today!

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