December 7, 2006
The Tricky Ethics of Business Gifts
The New York Times has a business section article (under the heading of "Small Business") on "The Tricky Etiquette of Business Gifts." In my former neck of the woods, etiquette was not as much a concern as compliance with our ethics policy. Under my authorship, we eliminated the $25 limit on gifts received from suppliers, and replaced it with something like "seasonal and ceremonial gifts of a nominal and appropriate nature." (The economists out there are screaming "agency costs, agency costs.") I didn't think many heads would be turned by a gift basket containing what I am sure was the French version of Two Buck Chuck, some fancy crackers, and a tin of liver pate, but I think those thing go for a pretty penny. The good thing about gift baskets (and I got a lot of them) was that I would snarf the thin Italian bread sticks, and put the rest of the thing in the lunch room, and generally nothing was left but the basket and the excelsior in about thirty minutes.
And, as several "preferred provider" law firms can testify, we never let a gift basket get in the way of declining a request for a premium on a bill, nor our assiduousness in the annual "vendor performance review."
* I'm hoping gift basket supplier extraordinaire Fabiene is okay with my use of the picture in exchange for a link.
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