Policy, Program and Procedures

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  • 1.  Vendor trying to sidestep gifts policy

    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
    Posted 19 days ago
    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous

    Hello. I am looking for some advice regarding a sticky situation with one of our vendors. We have a fairly strict gift and entertainment policy that forbids our employees from accepting anything from a vendor with a value of over $50. One of our vendors has made a habit of presenting our employees with expensive gifts such as watches, Ipads, golf outings, and airline certificates. Our employees know not to accept these gifts. We have approached this vendor multiple times, explaining the policy and asking them to refrain from offering these items as it is against our policy. One of my staff let me know that the vendor recently offered them a very expensive set of Bluetooth headphones and told this team member that because the headphones had the vendor's logo on them, it was just promotional merchandise and didn't really count as a "gift." 

    The situation is very troubling, as this vendor is not one we could easily replace, and there is nothing in the contract regarding gifts and entertainment. I would appreciate any suggestions for dealing with the particular issue. Thanks for any help you can provide.



  • 2.  RE: Vendor trying to sidestep gifts policy

    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
    Posted 19 days ago
    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous

    Hello,

    We have a group of folks at our firm (private equity) that attend many AGMs. They are always receiving swag bags at these events that include high end raincoats, travel bags, headphones, etc. If the items are branded, they are presumed to have no resale value and do not require any disclosure / notification to our L&C department. 

    This is a well - known and accepted workaround in our industry. The vendors are very aware of this and have become very smart with the branding placement as well. They often put logos on the inside or hidden areas of items given. Our L&C team has no issue with this. 

    Hope this helps! 




  • 3.  RE: Vendor trying to sidestep gifts policy

    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
    Posted 17 days ago
    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous

    We have a similar gift policy, and it even extends to employees giving gifts to other employees (especially supervisors), and our limit is $25.

    There are several options you could try, though some might be less effective than others. One option is to amend the contract to specifically prohibit such gifts, though if they continue to do so that just creates a contract violation issue, and since you noted this vendor would be difficult to replace, if they continue to violate the policy that just puts your company in the difficult spot.

    Our gift policy has an exception where gifts exceeding the limit can be allowed if an exception is requested (in advance) and approved by the President/CEO of the company. That came into play for us once several years ago when a vendor was hosting a conference for all of their clients at their office site, and they wanted to take all the attendees to one of the American Idol contestant tours that was going to be in their city during the conference. Since they were offering to take ALL of the attendees, not just those from some companies, and it wasn't a tangible gift that could be sold, our President/CEO granted an exception.

    Another option is to explain to them that by continuing to offer these expensive gifts, even after they have been advised of your company's gift policy, they are causing themselves some reputational damage. Since the main purpose of offering gifts is to enhance their reputation & simultaneously keep their name in front of their customers in a positive manner, causing themselves reputational harm is something they should want to avoid.

    My last suggestion is to tell the other company that all of the gifts that are received that exceed the limit of your company's gift policy will be donated to a charity rather than kept by employees, and then follow through on that. If they realize they are not getting their desired benefit from their gifts, perhaps that will incentivize them to stop offering gifts that exceed the limit of your company's gift policy.



  • 4.  RE: Vendor trying to sidestep gifts policy

    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
    Posted 17 days ago
    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous

    The core of your question seems to be a corporate culture issue. If people are accepting gifts that your policy overtly prohibits, the message to your company is "I'm not following this rule because no one can/will stop me.".

    The other suggestions noted so far (CEO waiver, tell the vendor to stop etc) all are valid. They appear to sidestep the real issue: why are your employees taking these gifts? (Beyond the obvious: They're really nice ....and FREE.)




  • 5.  RE: Vendor trying to sidestep gifts policy

    Posted 11 days ago
    Hi - 
    Not sure if this might be of interest or not, but I got an email a couple days ago about a webinar that is related to Gifts & Entertainment, so thought I'd share the info, just in case it might be helpful. From your description of the situation, it sounds like your employees understand and are complying with your company's gifts policy, but the vendor is not. This webinar sounds like it's aimed at explaining the importance of a gifts & entertainment policy to employees, so it might not be exactly on target, but possibly some of the insights might be transferable to a vendor relationship.

    The webinar is free, and is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 29 at 12 Noon (Central time). It is presented by The Second City Works and sponsored by Ethisphere. (I have no business or personal relationship with either company.)

    Here's a link to the registration page, which includes a better description of the webinar: Webinar Registration - Zoom.

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    Ivan A. Martin
    Senior Contract Administrator
    Iowa Student Loan
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