I'm working for a media agency. One of our major clients is the operator of an amusement park. We created their website, some apps and did campaigns for them. I'm in charge of the campaigns, so I talk to this client a lot. We are super nice to each other, ask each other about weekends and more personal things. This is usually the case with many of our clients, to get a better and more personal connection to the clients.

The company I work with also celebrated their anniversary and other events at the park. However, I think they paid for the entrance there.

My friends asked me to come to the park next weekend. But since I'm a student and I don't make a lot of money, I'm a bit short. Now I want to ask if the client could get me a discounted or free ticket to the park or if she could even get me and my friends a good deal on a group ticket.

Will this make me look bad or unprofessional if my boss finds out? Also, will this look bad to the client my company relies on?

  • 16
    +1 Good for you for seeking advice on this issue. I hope it's clear that asking clients for gifts is a bad idea - but asking other trustworthy people for advice when you're not sure how to proceed is always a good idea!
    – Kevin
    Oct 10 '16 at 21:55
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – enderland
    Oct 11 '16 at 13:22
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    Thanks everyone for the recommendations on this issue. @Kevin Yes, this is why i asked here. I'm pretty new to the world of working in an office. :)
    – Niqql
    Oct 12 '16 at 7:49

As a general rule, you don't solicit gifts from clients, you are offered them - asking for a gift can be seen very negatively by the client, especially if the contact you deal with is not in a position to offer such a gift off the bat.

You could drop a mention that you are going to their park into casual conversation and see if an offer is forthcoming without prompting - thats about the only way to realistically look professional while doing this.

As for how it would look to your boss, you should always run gifts past them before you accept them - in some companies, not clearing gifts prior to accepting them is a sackable offence, and in some professions it can even result in legal or regulatory action against you and the company.

If your boss gets wind of the fact that you are outright soliciting gifts from clients without his knowledge or permission, then you could find yourself in hot water as it doesn't reflect well on the company.

  • 19
    @Puzzled: Don't assume that. Some companies have very, very explicit rules banning such gifts outright. In combination with a position of influence (HR, Purchasing, Finance, ...) violating that rule can be grounds for immediate dismissal, even in Western Europe. The chief difference in Western Europe is that the reason for dismissal can't be just company policy. But "violation of trust" is such a reason.
    – MSalters
    Oct 10 '16 at 13:26
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    A previous company I worked for cared much about the appearance of things like this. ANY gift, regardless of cost, was required to be reported. Period.
    – enderland
    Oct 10 '16 at 13:53
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    @enderland Yep - in a previous role any gift deemed to be worth above $5 had to be refused where possible OR if that would be deemed not the right thing to do the gift had to be either shared with the office (For example - chocolates, food etc) or raffled off. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of grey areas with this and we all know plenty of deals are done over fine wine/food or on the Golf Course but that's well beyond the scope of the question
    – Dan
    Oct 10 '16 at 14:01
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    you should always run gifts past them before you accept them -- what is the meaning of this? Oct 10 '16 at 14:09
  • 4
    “Some companies have very, very explicit rules banning such gifts outright.” — Some countries have laws that could be interpreted as making such gifts illegal. Specifically, my country: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bribery_Act_2010 Oct 10 '16 at 23:36

Do not do this without speaking to your boss. Do not pass go. Do not collect your discounted theme park tickets.

Firstly, depending on the company cultures this could just look generally bad and may not be appreciated by either party. If this is something they're willing to provide, I find it surprising that they haven't mentioned it to you already.

Secondly, this could easily fall foul of bribery rules. This is a huge deal in many companies - accepting or soliciting gifts is potentially a big no-no.

There's nothing automatically wrong with leveraging contacts - but be clear, these aren't your contacts, they're your boss's. Speak to them and let them decide.

  • 5
    +1 For the mentioning how huge a deal it is with the companies. For a previous employer of mine, it was grounds for termination, would automatically spark an investigation, and they absolutely would take their findings to law enforcement. Oct 10 '16 at 13:00

I would say if you have to ask us, then don't do it...

Some people might try this but they already know it's OK (because of the relationship they have with the client) or think it's OK and it's not, or they have a bit of a brass neck. Judging by the fact that you asked on here, I'm thinking you're not one of these people.

Now it may turn out the client will find out you were there and say that you should have asked them and they would have given you tickets... But I myself still wouldn't take the risk of being bold enough to ask them.

You could mention it in casual conversation if you happen to be talking to them between now and then (i.e. that you are going, not that you want a discount), like "Oh I'll be up your way next week, might see you there", and maybe they'll offer. (though even then a more suspicious client could think you are hinting at getting a freebie - which you are!)

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