Service of Receiving a Flawed Shipped Gift: Whom to Tell?

March 11th, 2019

Categories: Chutzpah, Duh, Flowers, Gifts, Stingy

Retailers—traditional and e—make it increasingly easier to send wonderful gifts. But what if the gift arrives damaged? Does the recipient tell the gift giver, the vendor, both or none?

According to family legend my great Aunt Frieda called a fancy food purveyor—one of the best in NYC in the day–to ask them to remove a brace of over-ripe, too-long dead pheasants gifted her by well-meaning friends. I remember hearing that they smelled horrific but I don’t recall if she ever told the friends about the rancid poultry or merely thanked them.

More recently, Erica sent her newly widowed aunt armloads of spring flowers. Her aunt lives in Minnesota. The delivery man left the blossoms in the [very] cold outside her front door where they froze therefore hurrying them to their demise. Erica’s mom urged her aunt to tell her. Aunt hesitated as she didn’t want to hurt her feelings. She wrote: “I think they would be very lovely if they were not frozen. Your Mom asked me to send you a photo. Love.” Erica immediately called ProFlowers—that never before had disappointed her—and sent them this photo [above] as evidence.

A florist doing business in Minnesota should know to call–especially in winter–before delivering to a house to ensure that someone is home to accept the fragile package.

Sometimes it’s not the fault of the vendor. My father told a story of a stingy millionaire who visited a well known Paris boutique and chose, for a wedding gift, an important porcelain piece by a manufacturer of luxury brands. He found it on a clearance shelf, broken. Its condition was reflected in the price. Not wanting its reputation tarnished or to be left holding the bag by having to replace an object that might appear to have been broken in transit, boutique staff carefully wrapped each of the broken pieces separately and placed each shard, with Monsieur Stingy’s card, in the boutique’s distinctive gift box. I love this story. I don’t know if it really happened or if he was sharing a lesson about what can happen to the tightfisted.

Have you received a shipped gift that was somehow flawed? Did you notify the vendor, the giver or both? Under what, if any, circumstances would you NOT tell the giver? How did you feel when someone reported a problem with a gift you sent? Would you have preferred that they notify the vendor and keep you out of it?


4 Responses to “Service of Receiving a Flawed Shipped Gift: Whom to Tell?”

  1. JBS Said:

    I wouldn’t necessarily notify the giver, providing that it was handled promptly, but I would notify the vendor. If someone had a problem with a gift i sent, I’d prefer that they left me out of it and simply notified the vendor. (I had this happen with flowers and I only notified the vendor.)

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I lean in the direction you take.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    Both should be alerted. As a giver, I want to know I’m sending quality gifts. A reputable business will be anxious to make good on errors. Mistakes happen, so my take is to act in fairness to all.

  4. jmbyington Said:


    I think if the flaw is easily remedied with the vendor I might not bother the giver. I also see no problem if the recipient reports an issue to the generous giver. I’m not sure I’d do it.

Leave a Reply

Clicky Web Analytics