So I am a low level analyst at a large consulting firm. We are not allowed to accept personal gifts from clients due to this being a potential conflict of interest.

I use a large well known database, paid for by my practice, to perform most of my work. I was recently offered a $350 Amazon gift card to participate in a 45 min survey about how I utilize this database by the database itself.

How should I go about this? Can I ethically take the gift card, do I need to ask my boss about this, etc?

The database is not a current or past client and is paying me only for participation in the survey.

Any help is appreciated.

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    This is a question for your manager and HR, not us. Voting to close as being company-specific. – David K Oct 31 '16 at 14:13
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    In what world, will a company give you 350$ for participing in a 45 min online survey ? – Carlos2W Oct 31 '16 at 14:17
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    @Carlos2W makes a good point. Are you sure it wasn't a chance to win a $350 gift card? – David K Oct 31 '16 at 14:18
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    In your company "gift" policy is there any language around gifts from suppliers? I know that in my organization gift acceptance is the same regardless of if it's from clients, suppliers, or partner organizations. – Myles Oct 31 '16 at 15:02
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    Could you please share the link to the survey? :P – Masked Man Oct 31 '16 at 15:45

The ethical decision is to inform your boss. The company paid for the subscription, so the gift card is effectively theirs. They might surprise you and let you keep it.

You could, of course, never tell them about it and hope they don't find out, but at that point it's entirely possible that you could get in trouble.

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    In our company, we have a dedicated Compliance Officer to ask these kinds of questions. You'll get a simple yes/no answer about how to proceed, and then you're covered. Your immediate manager might not know the answer. – user44108 Oct 31 '16 at 14:38
  • I disagree that the gift card belongs to the company. The surveyors are not paying the OP because he has a subscription, they are paying the OP for their feedback and time. If anything, this probably falls under moonlighting. – dyeje Nov 1 '16 at 19:09

I have participated in consumer marketing studies of this sort. Typically they are trying to understand how people think about a product and/or a proposed advertising campaign for it. Remuneration for the participant's time is typically about $100-200 plus free samples or discount coupons or something of that sort. $350 is higher than I would expect and I'd be a bit suspicious, but it isn't unbelievable.

Check with your employer to make sure you know what their rules are. They might not want you doing this for folks in your own industry, for example, but have no problem with it otherwise.

And if they want you to pay anything to participate, it's a scam.

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