I have a wealthy client with whom I had/have a good relationship. After completing a job above and beyond their expectations they said they felt they needed to do something to repay me. I told them not to worry about it but they insisted. Later on in the day they came into our office and made a bit of a spectacle about the "miracle" I performed and in front of everyone gifted me a a well known, high end watch.

Everyone in the office including myself were absolutely floored. I insisted that I couldn't take the watch and after a lot of "no let me give you something/no please just take it" he agreed to let me offer something for it. Later on that day during a break I decided to go to a local jewler (our office is across the street from one) to get a pricing on the watch. I was hoping this to be a "low end" model of this high end brand and thus perhaps be able to pay him at least something towards this outrageous gift (to ease my conscience as I couldn't just accept it for free).

The jewler looked at it and immediately told me it was a fake, and an "obvious" one at that. I've since gone back to the office and I'm really not sure what to do or what to say. Considering this was a wealthy client, there was no reason for me to consider it being a fake (especially given the performance that was given). I'm even starting to think that they were potentially trying to con me out of some money for this fake watch (they off handedly mentioned a "payment plan" after our talk).

I have no idea what I should do. I'll be back in the office in a couple of days and I'm not sure if I should just return it quietly and make up something as to the reason or if I should call them out on it because if I don't the whole office will be left with the impression they did something which they did not do?

Note: I suppose it's possible they didn't realise it's fake, but having been thinking over things I wouldn't exactly class this client as an honest person.

EDIT: Regarding company policies for accepting gifts: We don't really have any. My boss was there when it happened and like everyone else sort of just patted me on the back and said well done. So, unfortunately I can't really use the excuse of "company policy dictates I can't accept this gift".

EDIT2: Regarding offering money for the watch and culture: I did not intend to give them the full amount for the watch. It's hard to try and summarize a situation as you'll no doubt miss details others thought were key. In this case I was hoping to hear the way was relatively cheap so then I could make some token offer. This isn't usual in my culture, to be honest I don't know what I was really thinking. Looking back on it, his acceptance was potentially just to end the conversation and then later on refuse it when I offered.

As for the culture, yes this exchange is very much a script but I really did not want to accept it. Such a watch (from the little I know of them) could very easily have been worth a year or two's salary, probably more.

  • 144
    Get it appraised by a second independent jeweler, just in case...
    – user34687
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 18:51
  • 125
    There is also the possibility of the jeweler trying to con you out, by "buying" a "fake watch".
    – T. Sar
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 19:16
  • 14
    "I have no idea what I should do." -- Can you clarify what your end goal is and why you believe you should do something?
    – Jason C
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 15:34
  • 8
    Why couldn't you have just taken it. Offering..? Something for it just complicates everything and got you into this position. Take it and throw it away if you want.
    – Insane
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 17:53
  • 12
    Are you truly solely responsible for the success? You don't work in a team? If not, I'd say the watch doesn't belong to you, everyone did their part to earn it. Put it in a frame and hang it on the wall.
    – Carl
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 0:49

15 Answers 15


Just take the watch. Refusing it is a huge insult to the client... even if they don't know you refused it. The proper behavior is decline at first, then graciously accept the gift when pressed. Trying to "pay" for the watch is ridiculous. The watch was a gift. Trying to pay for gift is nearly as bad as refusing it outright.

Have the watch mounted with a logo like "For Excellent Performance on Project XYZ" and put it in your office like a trophy. That way there is no question of impropriety. Places like Kinkos have business trophy centers where you can get mountings.

  • 158
    Trying to pay for gift is nearly as bad as refusing it outright. Actually, it's worse. Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 19:28
  • 14
    OP already said he agreed to let me offer something for it so how is OP supposed to get out of that when they already said they would? Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 20:04
  • 14
    @CaptainMan Buy the guy a gift (mug with his name on it etc,.), or just give him an appreciation card or something, but don't pay, and don't return the gift.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 20:16
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    He tried to refuse it and the client pressed it. Many people will take it as an insult if you give back a gift. While you may believe that there is nothing bad about refusing a gift, there are plenty who take a rejection of a gift as a rejection of them personally on some level. It's emotion and not logic but when you're dealing with client relationships, you have to deal with clients on their level and not risk needlessly insulting them.
    – Chris E
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 20:38
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    This is a nice description of what the OP perhaps should have done, but it doesn't really address the OP's actual (and pretty clear) question at all. The OP is asking what to do with a fake watch gift that they've already accepted and offered money for. Really, this answer probably should've just been a comment.
    – Jason C
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 15:30

First thing, talk to your boss about the situation. The best option for you is if there is a company policy that prohibits taking gifts from clients. Your boss may even be in support of you lying and saying there is a policy even if there isn't one. Regardless of a policy, you can still go back and say, thank you, but I am not comfortable taking gifts like this.

If you are able to return it, certainly don't bring up that it's a fake. Whether they are aware it is fake or not, this will allow them to save face. Regardless of whether you felt cheated or not, they are your customer, and you don't want to leave them feeling bad blood. You now have more knowledge about your client's trustworthiness, and they don't have to know it.

If you decide to keep it, don't give them more than it is worth. They were originally going to give it to you for free anyway, so they shouldn't be offended by a low-ball offer. I still wouldn't bring up the fact that an appraiser told you it was a fake, for the reasons given above. If the act of accepting a gift makes you uncomfortable, you can always keep the watch on display in your office. This shows your acceptance of the gift without really personally gaining from the gift.

  • 3
    I just want to add that I don't feel cheated, in fact I probably would have kept it had the topic of paying for it never came up since in some ways I still appreciate the gesture. Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 15:48
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    Even if there is no company policy, there is no need to lie if the boss is supportive: "My boss would prefer that I not accept any gifts from clients, and has instructed me to return the watch." Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 16:00
  • @PatriciaShanahan : I was in full agreement right up until the point where you said the word "if". Whether a higher-ranking person at an employing organization favors dishonesty, or not, should have no bearing on the reality that you should not lie. Period. (A lie ability is a liability.)
    – TOOGAM
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 5:26
  • 2
    @TOOGAM You are right. I didn't phrase that very well. "You can avoid taking responsibility for returning the gift if..." Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 6:29
  • What's a fake watch worth? In some places it's illegal to have it and could (in principle) be confiscated (e.g. by the customs administration). That watch is only worth something if you believe or pretend it's the real thing, paying a small amount of money would still mean paying more than it's worth while suggesting you don't really appreciate it and/or implicitly accepted a large gift (which the OP did not want in the first place).
    – Relaxed
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 12:35

I suspect that your client said you could make payment plans as a joke when you thought it was too much for you to accept, but never actually expected you to make payments. For now I would put the watch in a drawer in my desk and not worry about it.

If after a month or so you do not hear from the client about the paying for it, just assume that the issue is passed, and do what ever you feel like with the watch. Should the customer mention the payments, just thank them for the gesture but you will have to return the gift. It is just not an expense that fits in your budget.

If you are truly concerned that they will come back after you could always send a thank you letter to them for the generous Gift. Indicate it is a luxury you could never justify for yourself but the gift is appreciated. If they did expect payment then that should trigger some response. Any lack of timely response should be accepted by you as an agreement that it was a gift.

I personally would never bring up that it is fake unless there is some reason that makes it necessary, like your employer wanting you to pay taxes on the gift, or document it because of the perceived value. If everyone else is willing to just let it go, then you should too.

  • 15
    The point of the payment joke is a really good one.
    – cst1992
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 13:31
  • 3
    If the remark was not a joke this would be pretty rude. Your boss congratulating you by making you pay for the gift yourself. So it is probably a joke (hadn't thought of it myself at first, that it could be a joke). Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 18:52
  • 2
    Great answer, I'd just like to add that the tax thing is actually kind of a key issue. If the watch really is valued at "a year or two's salary" then you definitely have to pay taxes on it (in many countries) and could get in a lot of trouble for not doing so. If it's really that expensive, that could be reason enough to give it back or at least "redirect" the gift to the whole company, which could probably absorb the tax expense easily.
    – thanby
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 16:55

What exactly are you trying to achieve here? You weren't expecting the gift, you were even hoping that it was a "low end" one. It is not like they gave you the watch in lieu of your salary. I am finding it hard to understand why you have this urge to do "something" about it, or even worse, to show them up.

I don't the whole office will be left with the impression they did something which they did not do

I would totally understand you being concerned about what people think of you, but why do you care what X thinks of Y? It is their life, let them figure that out, you just focus on your own.

Long story short: just let it go.

  • 2
    I have no problem just returning it, but at the same time my concern is them leaving everyone with a false impression which they could abuse in the future and I would feel terrible knowing I could have prevented it by making their character known. Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 15:43
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    How about you just keep it and move on? I mean it is not like there's a rule that fake watch cannot be gifted, right? Unless they gifted you a stolen or otherwise illegally acquired watch, I don't see why you should even worry about the price of a gift. If they had gifted you a bouquet for example, would you go asking how much it costs?
    – Masked Man
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 15:56
  • 5
    Just tell your boss and your coworkers it's a fake watch. You do not need to confront your client about this. And definitely do not wear the watch in case you ever need to return it to the client. Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 16:07
  • 6
    @itsafakebro Your worry about them using the gift to pressure you into something in the future is exactly why many companies don't allow gifts in the first place.
    – David K
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 17:29
  • 4
    @MaskedMan "I mean it is not like there's a rule that fake watch cannot be gifted." Many places do have laws against selling counterfeit goods and some have laws against buying them (from what I understand, France and Italy are notable examples of the latter.) I'm not sure about simple possession of them, though. This is also assuming it's an actual counterfeit (bearing the trademarks of the original) vs. just a replica that does not attempt to copy the trademarks.
    – reirab
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 6:20

As this watch will not bring you any joy, ever, the answer seems clear to me:

Let a day or two pass, then return the watch to your client.

Make it a formal event that is abundantly past any negotiation. Put it into a nice big envelope with a formal letter along the lines of "Dear XXX, I have pondered long about this, and I can absolutely not take this present. I feel bad about accepting anything except the agreed payment. Please accept it back with my sincerest regards. I am looking forward to work for you again. Yours..."

Be 100% sure to formulate your letter/card in a way that gives no approach for your client to renegotiate. I.e., do not mention anything about the price, about the style of the watch or whatever. Only write subjective ("I have ...", "I can not ..." etc.). Do not lie about anything (if your company has no policy about this, then do not say it is because of a policy).

About the fake

This is kind of a pandora's box. Who to tell, what to assume.

Let's go through the scenarios:

  • Your client didn't know, and will never find out. No problem
  • Your client did know, and didn't think much about it, he just gave you a watch not caring about that. No problem.
  • Your client didn't know, finds out later, and assumes it is the same watch, they they got screwed by whoever sold it to them. No problem. They will probably feel awful and maybe eben apologize to you about it; you can rightfully tell them that you found out, and that that was not the reason why you returned it.
  • Your client didn't know, finds out later, and assumes that you switched the watch. Oops. You probably lost him at this point, but he will hardly be able to drag you to court. You can still tell him that you found out about the fact, and returned it in style like you did so he would not lose face (which is true, after all).
  • Your client did know, and gave it with the intention that you give it back, and then goes to court, claiming that you switched it, with some devious plan to frame you. Ooops. Well, in this case I guess it's up to your lawyer; they still have to actually get through with it, and you have the jeweller as witness. I assume you know your client well enough to figure out if they are capable of something like this.

All scenarios work out as well as possible; return the watch.

EDIT: Replaced all occurences of "clock" with "watch". Sorry, not a native speaker.

  • 1
    Even in the last bullet, what claim would they possibly have against you? If they gave you the watch, at least in most jurisdictions, it's yours to do whatever you want with. Even if he really did give you a real watch and you intentionally gave him back a fake claiming it was the one he gave you, while I can see that losing the client's trust, I can't imagine what actual court case the client would have against you, unless you conned him for something else in exchange. Now, if you tried to sell him the fake, that would be a court case (and not just civil, but likely criminal.)
    – reirab
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 6:29
  • 1
    Good suggestions. Not sure why you changed "watch" to "clock", though? That's not right. Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 21:55
  • 2
    @StephanBranczyk: "reirab just did" Where? And since when is wrapped around someone's wrist "placed on a surface or attached to a wall"? I am telling you, "clock" is not conventionally used in this manner. (Can I guarantee everybody goes by convention? No of course not..) While a watch is technically a kind of clock, in everyday speech watches are distinguished from clocks. It's as simple as that. If the OP had used "clock" then okay fine stick with it who cares, but I was wondering why this answerer went out of his or her way to go from "watch" to the very peculiar "clock". That's all. Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 13:02
  • 3
    @StephanBranczyk: I couldn't give two hoots about the American-English definition. I'm English, and I'm talking about English! Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 13:31
  • 3
    Nah I'm good :) Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 13:35

I think it would be a mistake to assume that the client is trying to con you. After all, he tried to give you the watch as a gift. It was only after you protested that the discussion of payment came up. I think offering to pay for the watch was a mistake, but you can't get that back now. All you can do is move forward.

You should give the watch back to the client(as I would do if I were you) and explain that you have thought about it and you really just can't accept such a beautiful gift. Be grateful and thankful but direct and clear. Don't wiggle. Don't waffle. If he tries to argue, thank him again and refuse again. Repeat this as many times as it takes for him to get the message.

In my opinion it would be unwise to discuss the fakeness of the watch or be anything other than obsequious and grateful for the "generous gift."

  • 1
    I disagree. In many places, it's customary to refuse gifts. If this was a social engineering attempt, the client already knew the script.
    – aebabis
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 17:39
  • 9
    @acbabis Is it customary in your culture to offer to pay someone who is trying to give you a gift? I have never encountered that. (US)
    – Lumberjack
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 17:44
  • 1
    Yeah, I missed that. Still, it's possible that the customer put the thought in the OP's mind. The situation seems way too contrived otherwise.
    – aebabis
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 20:20
  • 1
    Not a good idea trying to give it back, the horse has already bolted. Not only it has already been accepted, trying to give it back with "beautiful gift" and gratefulness is lying through your teeth and very likely you are setting your own trap. Clearly speaking, there are people and cultures out there (including me) which will not accept to take an accepted present back so your "they will get the message" will not work and you will end up embarassed and humiliated. You can try to give it back once like DavidK, else simply put it in a box and forget about it. Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 3:18
  • I would not classify a con handing down casually a fake high-end watch. Making a public display/an office event "of such a generous gift" does make it a con. Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 3:55

It's pretty simple:

1. If you have any reason to think they had "ulterior motives", then do something.

2. If not, then keep it.

You need to learn to accept genuine gifts; it seems like you're just not comfortable with that.
However, you also need to make sure this isn't going to come back to bite you.

So, I think the only thing to worry here is about whether they're trying to flatter you because they expect something in return later.

If you think there's a chance this is the case, then either:

  1. Return the watch, telling them you appreciate it very much but you genuinely do not feel comfortable taking such a high-value gift (which would be true!), or

  2. If that just isn't realistic, donate it to charity (or sell it at the highest price you can and donate the proceedings to charity), and send them a quick note letting them know that you've made a charitable contribution in their name.

You really can't go wrong with #2 here. If they intended it to be fake and it was, then they now know you found out, but you haven't said anything so it's about as good as it can be. If they didn't intend it but it was, then they didn't know in the first place, so it's still good. And if it's real, then you've helped out someone in need in their name -- nothing wrong with that.

  • 2. - nice idea to handle the fake...
    – AnoE
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 6:58
  • Yep, nice answer. Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 21:54
  • 5
    #2 sounds very wrong to me. Dealing in fake watches is illegal in many places, the watch could be seized and destroyed. If you present it as fake, it's not worth much and you're suggesting a charity should or would engage in some shady business for pocket change. OTOH, if you would present it as genuine in the hope of making a significant donation, you would be conning someone yourself.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 21:55
  • @Relaxed: Nothing prevents you from getting a few knowledgeable opinions about its authenticity before selling it...
    – user541686
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 21:57
  • @Mehrdad OK, but what if it's fake? That's the question here...
    – Relaxed
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 22:05

Getting out of this hole may be harder than not getting into it in the first place.

The OP doesn't say what cultures are involved here, but in some parts of the world accepting a "gift" like this is a serious matter, because the giver will assume that the receiver is then under an obligation to return the favour in some way - for example by reducing the price on the next work contract. The whole world doesn't share the same business ethics as to what is and is not acceptable as "bribery and corruption".

In such cultures, ignoring that obligation would have consequences - for example the customer would then consider it perfectly acceptable behaviour to trash your reputation with all his/her business associates, so you would get no more work from any of them.

The simplest way to avoid this is a formal written company policy which bans giving and receiving any gifts that have a monetary value.

The issue of the gift being (allegedly) a fake is irrelevant to the above - and attempting to pay for a "gift" after having accepted it seems totally bizarre response in any case.

  • Unfortunately, it is always harder getting out of complicated situations than not getting in in the first place. I would only getting into the argument of being a irrelevant situation if it was given quietly. As it was a somewhat public event, it does seem a bit contrived pretending something has 500 times the value it cost. Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 4:27

First, get accustomed to accepting gifts. Never do it instead of payment, but people enjoy giving gifts when you do a good job. You may have just made there company millions or billions of dollars, whats a lousy watch compared to that. You have to understand that not every one shares your concept of money. To this client that watch might have been a small thank you token, to you it may have been 2 years salary. Different cultures are different, but I would have just said thank you, and taken the watch.

Paying for the watch is insulting. Don't ever offer to do that.

Refusing the watch is insulting. Don't do that either. Different cultures and all, but refusing gifts is generally bad. If you have a company policy, or it borders on corruption, bribe, conflict of interest, then refusing becomes ok, but short of that, learn to say "Thank you" and accept the gift.

Now that your in this pickle, your best bet is to just stay quite.

If they know it's a fake; then they are insulting you. Take the insult and keep in in mind next time you work with them.

If they think it's real: There's no way to tell them it's a fake that doesn't insult them.

If they press you for money, then get the watch appraised, officially. Give them the documents from the jeweler.

Your best bet, is to mount it in a clear case, and stick it on your desk.

Just like that itchy sweater your grandma got you for Christmas, they are going to expect to see you using it. Mounting it, should cover that.

  • 5
    In many jurisidictions, getting accustomed to accepting gifts can be a breach of company policy that can lead to disciplinary action. There may also be tax implications. Worst case, it can lead to accusations of impropriety and cause legal problems. It pays to educate yourself on policy and laws. Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 22:01
  • 1
    Fist, I make the exception for LAWS or company policy, but they are not the same thing. The op clearly states that the boss was present and didn't have an issue. Tax implications are a possibility. But the worst case on the other side if the coin is offending a client and loosing them, and their income. Again different cultures are different (I mentioned that too) but in a culture that gives gifts as a thank you, it rare that rejecting such a gift will go over well.
    – coteyr
    Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 13:05
  • 1
    I find it interesting that you say, "Different cultures are different..." and then go on to say some absolute statements that don't respect many cultures. Beyond regional differences, OP doesn't mention what kind of work he does. There are some jobs where I would accept a gift from a client, and many I would not. If nothing else, you don't want your other clients to hear that you got such-and-such a gift, because then, deserved or not, you'll be, "That guy who needs a 'gift' to get anything done."
    – Azuaron
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 20:35

I doubt very much he's trying to con you out of money - he could never have expected you'd offer money for a gift! Really you should have just accepted it graciously.

It's more likely that he wanted to give you a gift so you'd feel good about yourself and he'd look like a big generous client who pays out big rewards for hard work, and everyone would love him (or at least be impressed).

He bought the fake because actually he can't afford a high end watch and he didn't think you'd ever get it appraised by a jeweler (it's a gift after all), and thought, well who'll ever know, and really what's the difference, it still tells the time doesn't it? That's the only scamming going on here, I'd say. More of a white lie than a con.

Maybe he didn't even know it was a fake, was a bit surprised he could get such a big brand name at this price (but doesn't really know much about watches) and thought it would make a great present.

I would be very surprised if he came looking for the money. I wouldn't read too much into his "payment plan" talks, he may either have been joking, or people sometimes say things like that intended to be forgotten, just to get through the moment.

Just keep the watch. Maybe keep it in your desk drawer for a while in case he does come looking for money as others have suggested, so you can return it then unblemished.

  • I would be very surprised about someone not knowing they are dealing with counterfeit goods. In most countries, they are only sold at closed door, and some other countries at well defined places or from a street vendor. They are illegal and confiscated if sold in the open in many places (e.g. you must actively search for one). It is not he cannot afford it, he just wants to save face, and it does not look good pretending something expensive was given [in public]. I would give the benefit of doubt it was a public event by the circumstances, or otherwise this is very shady behaviour. Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 3:33
  • For someone unfamiliar - you can buy any imitation from 10 to 50 dollars - 30-50 dollars will get you pretty good imitations of 15k high-end watches. Someone shady may try to sell you rolex imitations for 100-200 dollars, they are not worthy that. Nevertheless, the price tag difference is abysmal, it would be very difficult not being aware of it. Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 3:41
  • If the client cannot afford a 10k watch, it should not hand a fake, much less in an office event. Treating the OP to a dinner would have been enough. The client is shady. unless he is handing down a gift from someone else, and does not truly know. Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 4:01

In many industries and many parts of the world it would be illegal and/or unethical to accept a high value gift.

High value places it squarely into the "Bribe" category in these cases.

The Bribery Act 2010 in the UK and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the US are two examples, but in general, gifts that are high value from customers or suppliers could be considered a bribe.

I tend to work in financial services, and pretty much every country where I could do business I would be disciplined, probably fired, and possibly imprisoned for accepting such a gift.

  • Updated to clarify.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 17:28
  • 1
    @Unsigned, anything can be considered a "gift" or a "bribe", depending on how it's viewed. Our company has for decades had a policy that we must refuse a gift of any amount, or of any product. We aren't even allowed to let salesmen buy us lunch. That way there can be no question that there was no bribing. If we are unable to refuse the gift (as in the cultural situation described above), our policy states that we must turn it over to the HR department, who contacts the gift-giver, notifies them of our policy, and attempts to return it. If they still refuse, HR donates the gift to charity. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 20:41
  • @JohnDeters I completely understand, and that makes perfect sense. I only meant to point out that OP did not specify an industry nor the exact nature of the client's relationship to himself or the company. Given that the company does not have a policy on the subject, it suggests that OP may be in a position where there are no legal issues. When in doubt, consulting with HR or the company's legal department is usually a good bet.
    – Unsigned
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 21:37
  • 1
    «The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act [...] was enacted for the purpose of making it unlawful for certain classes of persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business.» Did the OP declare to be a government official and/or a person working for the public sector? Bribery means paying someone to gain an irregular advantage. Giving a gift to a worker after he has done a job that you specifically pay for can hardly be considered "bribery". Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 22:21
  • 1
    OK so you are saying that if you pay a person money for a job it's fine, but if you give an additional object that was not required then it is bribery. Could you elaborate a bit on the kind of unlawful advantage that this client gained from the job of the OP? Your concept of bribery is quite weird. I can hire an external company to work for me and gift them whatever I want if they accept. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 8:02

You have two options, the fact that it is a fake doesn't really com into it.

`1) Quietly return the gift saying that while you appreciate the gesture your personal or company professional policy does not permit you to accept gifts in kind. This may cause some mild offense but you could mitigate this by suggesting that they donate it to a charity of their choice and after all accepting this sort of personal gift is iffy at best and many companies will flat out not permit it and your client should realise this.

2) quietly accept it but report it as a gift to your immediate superior and le them sort it out.


You definitely shouldn't go back and tell them it's a fake, since it's been out of their sight and in your hands for a few days. "Hi, thanks for the £10,000 watch... turns out it's fake so here have it back lol". If I were the gifter, and I hadn't known it was fake, this would ring serious alarm bells. I would be wondering... have you just effectively, kinda, stolen a £10,000 watch and returned a fake in its place?

You got yourself into this situation in the first place by not simply accepting the gift graciously, or politely declining. Those were two simple, clear-cut options, and you missed the opportunity to pick one of them.


In fact you can still just say that, having thought about it, you cannot accept the gift. And return it. That's it. No need to make it complicated.



  • You have company guidelines or local law that prohibits this
  • You suspect untoward future impacts (e.g. here's a bribe, bend the rules for me)
  • The client has a history of dishonesty

Just accept the gift.

As for it being a fake, that's a tricky one that will depend on relationship & culture. For myself & our clients, I'd likely quietly mention that your jeweller discovered it's a fake. Come from an attitude of assuming goodwill, that the client didn't know and you wanted to warn them that the watch seller isn't to be trusted. Then proceed to reaffirm your gratitude that they chose to buy a gift to celebrate the project and keep it (desk draw?) unless they want to retract it. If executed correctly, then a good-meaing client will further prize your business relationship, and a dishonest client will discover you aren't easily tricked.

  • this doesn't seem to offer anything substantial over points made and explained in prior 17 answers
    – gnat
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 4:49
  • 1
    @gnat I was hesitant to add an answer with so many already, but my perspective is the only one so far that says "Keep the watch but (assuming goodwill) warn the client that it seems to have been fake". A different angle from a different culture - it's valuable.
    – andrewb
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 22:50
  • +1 As an European, I would like to know my local jeweller had sold me a fake. On the other hand, this is just a "2nd hand gift" or it was really meant as giving a fake watch as a pretence. It is very difficult to get a fake watch "by accident". I would assume the OP comes from an Asian, maybe Indian culture, this does not seems normal for contemporary European values. Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 4:09

To me this would depend on if other people in the office may do work for the customer and get the same treatment. If so I would at least tell your boss.

For sure you return the watch. If they are not trying to con you then they have been conned by someone. I would say "I cannot accept this gift. I don't know where you bought this but you should be aware it is fake." If they argue it is not fake then them "I still cannot accept it". If they were conned they can address it. If they were tying to con you then they will know not to try again and you have not accused them of trying to con you.

If you had not agreed to make an offer then my answer would be different. Just keep the watch and refuse any more gifts.

You are in a real awkward position in any reasonable offer is probably more then than cost of the fake. The jeweler immediately said it was on obvious fake.

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