December 28, 2005
Corporate Gifts

As some of you may know, I work in a large corporation and get to make some of the decisions. People that sell things to us, know this and try to curry favor. Typically, this is done with gifts.

In some businesses and in politics, this gift giving is taken to extremes. As you might expect, this gift giving does affect how people make decisions. People that say that it doesn't effect their decision making are lying.

My company limits gifts to $75 and no more. Personally, I think this a great idea. I get to make decisions that spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and sometimes millions. Being a normal person, if someone gave me a big gift like a laptop or other expensive item, I would feel indebted in some way.

In the entertainment field this gift giving gets a little crazy at places where there are no company limites. I've heard of watches, iPods, and other costly items being doled out like candy to even minor players in Hollywood. The vendors that deal with us know the limits and try to stay within it. If it goes above $75, I have to turn it in to the company.

Each year I get a number of gifts at Christmas. Here's this years list:

Two bottles of red wine (split with my assistant)
Zagat 2006 Guide (gave to Michele)
Basket of Muffins (put out for co-workers to eat)
Box of Godiva Chocolates (eaten by guests watching football)
Frosted cookies (put out for co-workers to eat)
Ms. Beasley teacakes (fed to family at Christmas - my personal favorite)
Pair for good earbud headphones (gave to Michele)

If vendors really wanted to curry favor with execs, they would focus more on the assistants and second-in-commands with gifts as well. These people protect and control access to decision makers. They are often not given the respect they deserve. Without these support people modern business would grind to halt and no deals would get done.

Posted by michael at December 28, 2005 08:17 PM


hear, hear!

Posted by: michael [] on December 29, 2005 2:41 AM

I try to disuade the gift giving from business partners by not giving any to them and not sending thank cards. Eventually, they figure out that you don't care and stop.

I only got one gift that I can think of from a business partner. They sent me a 7" portable DVD player, which I thought was funny because we make 7" portable DVD players, so if I wanted one, we are already buried in them. This one was lower-end than the one we make, but we put it in the lab as a tester.

Posted by: chrisheatherly [] on December 29, 2005 6:49 AM

At my previous company the vendors for our copiers gave me a gift of a DVD player. We had already purchased the copiers from them so it was more of a thank you than trying to influence me. They shipped it directly to my home so my boss never even knew that I got the gift. I wasn't a signee on the contract, merely the person who told my boss "We should go with this company." So in my case, the Assistant, me, was very taken care of VERY well.

Posted by: Norah Nick [] on December 29, 2005 1:10 PM

We get lots of promo items at work, many from companies like Mike's. We have found it hard to get the 'no' message across, so we just put everything in a prize pool and have a drawing with everyone's name.

In courtesy, we send a thank you note when appropriate. This has worked very well for us.

Posted by: mark [] on December 29, 2005 4:36 PM

Gifts can backfire... My loyalty can be bought with a good T-Shirt. But if you send crappy cookies to our office I'll never recommend your products again.

Posted by: Mister P. [] on December 29, 2005 10:10 PM
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