Friday, 16 September 2011

Gift or inducement?

It is the norm, come festive seasons, for many of us to be giving or receiving gifts in the form of hampers. Such a practice is normally done based on a business relationship rather than a personal one… I mean you’d never send a hari raya hamper to your old school friend, would you? Also, the act of giving and receiving is almost always a one-way street. From a supplier to a customer. From a contractor to a client. From a sub-contractor to the main contractor. In short, from a beneficiary to another who is in authority. Never the other way round.

Which begs the question : is hamper-giving during festive season to be considered a token of gratitude or an inducement of (future) favours? Having been on both sides of this equation throughout my working life, I can offer arguments either way… indeed, I’ve had long and serious discourse with colleagues on such an interesting topic, but that is not the intention of this post. We’ll leave the discussions on ethics for another day.

I’d like to talk about the hamper itself… or rather, the things that are packed or wrapped inside the standard hamper to create a visually enticing gift.

Many years ago, during the early days of being in the work market, it used to be quite exciting to be receiving hampers. The feeling is not unlike a school kid getting a gift of candy. It did not matter what was inside the hamper, as long as it was BIG and nicely wrapped in colourful cellophane paper. Pretty soon, the novelty wore off when you realise the stuff inside such hampers are simply packs or cans of everyday foodstuff, most of which you would not normally buy on your own anyway. I may sound like an ingrate but the things they give you are so easily predictable… boxes of chocolate, confectionery, cookies, cans of preserved fruits and maybe some glassware. All these arranged in a plastic basket with a bottle of orange squash concentrate or bubbly fruit drink forming the pinnacle.

The sad thing is, most of the items are from unknown manufacturers (ok lah… if you want me to say it crudely, `unbranded’). In the hamper that I received this year, the only recognizable item is the box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates (to give the hamper a look of respectability, agaknya lah). The box of biscuits is an unknown brand from a factory in Batu Pahat. The can of fish cracker snacks is made by a manufacturer I’ve never heard of before. The bottle of mango cordial is similary from some obscure source, definitely not found on the supermarket shelves.

There you have it… I totally sound like an ungrateful jerk, aren’t I? Dah dapat hamper, nak komplen lagi!

Which now brings me to the point that I really want to make. If you honestly want to give something to somebody to show your appreciation, then please put some thought into what you intend to give. Don’t just pick a typical package from those fly-by-night hamper packing companies that mushroom during festive seasons.

At one of the place where I used to work, we gave our clients gifts of quality hari raya cakes and cookies packed in beautiful wicker baskets, each tied with a lovely ribbon. Doesn’t cost much more than the standard food hamper and certainly much smaller, but I’m pretty sure, much more appreciated.


Pak Zawi said...

Love your thought on this matter. the supermarkets are guilty of promoting hampers based on size rather than quality of the products they put in. Anyway hampers cease to reach you the minute you cease to be in a position that have some semblance of authority.

Pat said...

I agree with what you say in the last para: If you want to give someone a gift, give it with the right thoughts behind it.

Is it an inducement for further 'business'? I don't know. I remember that when my husband received hampers, they were all delivered to his office, and the contents shared equally by everyone in his department, down to the coffee lady. I think that way, it is simply a gift - a token of appreciation.

Sometimes, that is all someone wants to do, isn't it? Say 'thank you'.

But, there're are always those who mean something else, or want something else. I guess we need to learn to differentiate one from the other. And that can be difficult, no?

Anonymous said...

salam Tuan

besides bersyukur seadanya, i certainly agree with your 2nd last para many people dismiss

Nin said...

So I noticed too. Some items even hanging precariously by its expiration date! Tsk tsk tsk! *geleng kepala*. Verdict : Inducement.

Aida Marie Mohamad said...

Salam Oldstock,

Please, could you give me directions on how to get to Sg Bernam (photo on the left of your blog). We love finding rivers and waterfalls.

Aida Marie Mohamad.

Oldstock said...

Pak Zawi, Pat, Noir and Nin,

Very sorry for the delayed response to your comments. As you can see, I've been away from blogging for quite some time. Reasons to be revealed later.

Pak Zawi, I especially like your last sentence. So very true. That in itself, means something, doesn't it?

Pat, I do the same thing too with the hampers I receive. Have them delivered to the office (not my home) and later to be shared by all the staff.

Salam Noir, thanks for dropping by.

Nin, I agree with your conclusion. Which is why I am reluctant to give hampers myself.

Oldstock said...

Salam Puan Aida,

If you click on the said photo, it will lead you to another blog post where I tell the story of this place.

To get there, you travel north from KL on the highway about 70km until you reach the Tg Malim exit. From the toll plaza you take the left turn towards Tg Malim town on the by-pass road. The track towards Sg Bernam is on the right, a few hundred metres from the traffic junction of the UPSI entrance, i.e. you would not be passing through Tg Malim town itself.

There are 2 private agro resorts in there by the river where you can find comfortable overnight accomodation, if you so wish. Good luck.