On occasion of Diwali, all the employees at my workplace got a 1ltr glass bottle nicely gift wrapped from the HR department. When I opened mine, I learned that the bottle is already broken(not by dropping but it looks more like a manufacturing defect)

I want to know what would be the best thing to do in this situation because I'm a little sad though and I would really love to get a proper bottle. How can I professionally approach this situation with HR? Or, is there any potential downfall in doing so?

Update: I'd like to thank each and every one for guiding me on this. I feel motivated and proud at the same time to contribute others who might run into a dilemma like this today or tomorrow. Also, I got a replacement for my bottle and the HR didn't mind it. They appreciated letting me tell them about the broken bottle I received. :)

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    This would seem to be region/culture dependent. You might want to edit this question with your general location (country, region). – De Novo Nov 12 at 19:52
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    "Diwali" -- 99% sure this is India. – Tejas Kale Nov 13 at 14:17
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    I work in an office in the US with a decent number of employees who celebrate Diwali and the company also does something similar for all employees. – Question Marks Nov 13 at 18:02
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    @QuestionMarks I can confirm with a second data point. This was the first company I've worked for that did this, and it was awesome – Morgen Nov 13 at 19:38
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    @TejasKale Indians don't only live in India. – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 14 at 11:15
up vote 157 down vote accepted

Talk to whoever gave it to you. Explain that it appears to have been broken before you opened it and politely ask for a replacement.

It should be as simple as this.

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    @user7841468 When they gave you the gift, they wanted to make you happy. I'm sure they'd rather sort this out for you - than have you feel disappointed. If you go in being friendly and conscientous like you have here - nobody's going to think anything negative about you. – Bilkokuya Nov 12 at 13:25
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    @user7841468 they will most likely get a free replacement from whatever source they got it from so it's really not much of a hassle for them. – Summer Nov 12 at 15:57
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    @Summer And whatever hassle there is is the fault of the manufacturer, not the unfortunate recipient of the broken item. – David Richerby Nov 12 at 17:36
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    Furthermore, if they purchased such a large bulk order, the manufacturer has every incentive to keep them pleased so that they buy again the following year. Thus, your request for replacement should not be the sort of thing that causes HR any significant hardship to accommodate. – Pyrotechnical Nov 12 at 18:07
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    One last thing--your company will understand that you're upset with the manufacturer, not with the company or their generous gift. I'm sure the company would also be upset to learn that you got a broken gift from the manufacturer and would like to get a replacement so that you are pleased with their gift. – A N Nov 12 at 20:08

I agree with Snow♦'s answer and I would also add, make sure to express that you are thankful for the gift (and not just that you are disappointed that it was broken). I'm sure whoever picked it out will be happy to hear that you like it so much you would want a replacement.

I really like the glass bottles that were selected as our gifts this year! I was a little disappointed on opening mine to discover it was broken - are there any extras I could change it for? Thank you!"

HR bought these presents. They paid money for them. They paid good money, and at least one of the presents was broken. Nobody likes to pay money for broken stuff, so HR will want to know about this, and then get a replacement from the vendor.

Tell them about it, so they can go back to the vendor. If not, then make sure that they never find out, because they will be annoyed if they find out later they paid good money for broken presents and were not given the chance to fix it.

There is a small chance HR will think you broke the bottle, that's the only potential downfall I can see. If you're worried that this may affect your reputation within the company then perhaps it's not worth asking for a new bottle.

However, if you explain honestly your version of events then I'm sure they'll replace it. I'd ask for a replacement if they have a spare, do not ask them to send it back to the manufacturer:

"I was so grateful to receive this gift but when I opened it I discovered it was broken. I guess it was a manaufacturing defect or maybe it got broken in transit. If there's any spare bottles do you think I could swap mine please?"

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    I think it would be perfectly fine to leave out the theorizing about the cause, it feels - to me - rather obseqious or as trying to hide the fact that you did actually break it. Just report it as broken and ask if they can swap or exchange it. – Mark Rotteveel Nov 13 at 16:24
  • yeah good point :) – Pixelomo Nov 13 at 23:09

I don't see any answers yet that quite capture the approach I would take to this.

I think the only danger to avoid is being seen as a "problem employee" if you seem ungrateful for what they gave you, so make it clear that you appreciate that the company was willing to buy you the gift. A company has no obligation to give gifts (at least in the U.S.), so they are already acting generously. But if you are as thoughtful and polite as you have been here, I don't think you have anything to worry about.

I agree with others that the company wants to show appreciation and did not intend to give you a defective gift, so they'd want to replace it to make sure you don't feel snubbed (even if only because a disgruntled employee is bad for morale). So it is worth bringing up with HR.

(As an aside, it may be that other employees also received defective bottles, yet the company may not be aware of the issue. And if the fault was with the supplier as you suggest, they may even replace it at no cost to your company. I don't think that changes your approach, but maybe helps to convince you that it's worth bringing it up.)

I would try to be as polite as possible and avoid making a big deal out of it. Ask if they happen to have an extra bottle or if it they'd be willing to get a replacement for you, but don't push the issue if they say no. It was free to you, after all, so you do not have any right or entitlement to it.

So you might say:

I'm so glad that the company gave us these lovely bottles! They are a very nice gift! But I am a little sad that mine appears to be defective. Is there any chance that there is an extra one left over, or that the supplier might replace it for us? If not, don't worry about it, but I'd be very happy if there is, because I really like the bottle.

If they are willing to take the extra steps to replace the bottle for you, then I would also consider sending a thank-you note or some other extra token of appreciation to show your gratitude.

Of course, I'm American and don't know much about Indian etiquette (assuming you are in India as your reference to Diwali suggests), so take my advice with a grain of salt and use your own discretion as to how you expect them to handle it.

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    If you're going to thumbs-down my answer, could you please provide some constructive feedback as to how it could be improved or why you don't think it's a good approach? Thanks! – Sean the Bean Nov 13 at 19:14

I would leave it as it is and just move on.

As they did not do that on purpose and it's just a simple gift, so why bother anyone replacing them? Probably HR would have to contact this company to do replacement or so, it just not worth it I guess. I am pretty sure you will get many gifts in your life you will enjoy way more!

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    "Aww, heck ... it's just a bottle," so please don't over-think this thing. Undoubtedly, the folks in the HR Department bought it from some supplier before they gave it to you. (Hey, perhaps they have another one in their storage-closet!) Otherwise, it's really no big deal for them to call said supplier and tell them that the shipper screwed-up and would they please send another one. In a couple weeks at most, you're sure to have the gift that HR intended to give you. "These things happen..." – Mike Robinson Nov 12 at 20:09
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    That's only true if he "did not really want it anyway". If it makes him minimally sad, it's different. Both from his, and the perspective of the company - which intends to make him more happy, and definitely not more sad. – Volker Siegel Nov 12 at 20:16
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    Frequently, when such presents are ordered in bulk, they often have some spares just for this situations if they know what they are doing. – Rui F Ribeiro Nov 12 at 20:57
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    The companies intent behind the gift is to show appreciation. A broken gift does not achieve this goal. On the contrary, an employee might become upset ("Why am I treated worse than the others?"). If employees are important to a company, it will order a new bottle even if it costs extra. The yield in happyness for the emloyee is much more worth than a bottle. So even if you just look at this from the companies gain perspective, it is in their interest to get that bottle. – problemofficer Nov 12 at 23:00

There was a similar incident in our office on Diwali occasion, We received personalized silver coins as a Diwali gift. One of the employee noticed that his coin was smaller and weighed less. So, he just requested our manager of the incident and manager quickly reported Issue to concerned person and his replacement was in an instant.

You should take a similar approach and report this to your direct manager. Mostly when ordering these gifts 2/3 extra items are ordered in case there are any defects in any of them so they can be quickly replaced.

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