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What is your organization’s policy about accepting gifts from vendors?

Some organizations have limits to accepting gifts, others have a zero policy: meaning no gifts are acceptable.

You will find some colleagues complain about the limits, that they are always too low. Or about the zero policy, saying that a bottle of red wine will not influence a sourcing decision.

But what about if the bottle costs 500€, or what about a box of bottles?

In regards to this discussion, I always give the example of a situation that a friend of a friend of mine found himself in several years ago. He received a video camera (no smart phones at that time) from a vendor as a Christmas gift. His instincts told him that it was too expensive and out of the acceptable range. So, he drove to the supplier to thank them, but gave the camera back explaining that it was too expensive.

What do you think? Was it the right or wrong approach? Was he going to be influenced because of the video camera? Maybe not, but I guess we all agree that common sense tells us that it was not appropriate, right?

Do you know what the answer of the vendor was? «My friend, that is interesting because we gave same video camera to 50 of your colleagues and you are the first one to give it back».

Does this mean that because of a video camera everybody changed their behaviour about that supplier? Perhaps they didn’t, but it does mean that common sense is not as common as we think, each person defines common sense in a different way: what is correct and what is not, especially once there is personal benefit involved.

For this reason, I consider it a must to clearly define guidelines to the limits of what is acceptable and what is not. And if you ask my opinion, the best and easiest limit is a zero policy.

So, what do you think about it?

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