The World’s Worst Christmas Present

Every year I visit the charity shop and off load all the misguided Christmas presents I’ve been given.

I don’t wish to seem ungrateful, but the socks my Aunt sent me with individually knitted toes are at best uncomfortable and at worst a crime against style (possibly even humanity).  They have to go.  And as some misguided fool will hand over good money for them, my Christmas charity shop visit is a win win for all concerned.

This year however I got a present that was so bad I couldn’t bring myself to give it away.

The gift I could do without

Yesterday I took my family to the sales, after hours being buffeted by the crowds we retired to Pizza Express (an upmarket pizza chain).  As I paid for lunch for four the manager gave me a “Christmas Gift” in a very smart Christmas Card.

A free Classic Pizza on my next visit.

Now I visit Pizza Express a lot. I am all for a free pizza, but then I read the small print:

  • Valid when you buy a full priced main course
  • Piccolo (Children’s) menu is not a main course
  • Offer only available Monday to Thursday
  • Offer only available 7th to 31st January
  • Only one “gift” can be used per transaction
  • “Gift” cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotion

And the best bit:  Extra toppings are chargeable.

All of which left me wondering exactly how much would a no strings attached pizza cost?

Who was this a gift for, me or them?

Shouldn’t joy be in the giving?

Maybe I am a little old-fashioned, but if you give out free gifts shouldn’t you be authentic about it?  Make the free gift a free gift?

Maybe companies should apply my “Charity Shop Test” before they come over all generous.

Or better still take a leaf out of Chris Zane’s book.

As Christmas gifts go this one was a little less welcome than the latest version of Grand Theft Auto that I bought my wife to play on my X-Box.

At least she wasn’t remotely embarrassed to hand that over to the charity shop.

Cellophane wrapper intact.

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Image by SidewaysSarah


  1. James

    I received the same ‘gift’ and felt the exactly the same way about it. This didn’t feel like a gift, it felt like a cynical promotion with a misleading label – almost a ‘bait and switch’.

    Which is a shame because I think they have a great product.

    The outcome for me was an impaired view of their brand, which I’m sure was the opposite of their intention when they marketed it as a ‘gift’ and there’s surely a lesson to all marketers here about the broad scope of what constitutes a customer’s experience.

    • James Lawther says:

      Guy, I think you are right, all they succeeded in doing was making a withdrawal from the fabled “emotional bank account”

  2. Hi James,
    Shouldn’t gifts be unconditional? Maybe you should report them to Trading Standards as their ‘gift’ is not really a gift.


  3. James,

    I love it. I’ve seen those types of “freebies” before, as well, and it just makes you shake your head. What are these establishments thinking? It’s more exhausting to think about how and when to use the thing than it is to actually use it – assuming you can get something you actually enjoy when you want to enjoy it. Ridiculous!

    Annette :-)

  4. Hello James
    I believe that I said all that I wish to say on the matter when I wrote this post as a result of receiving a free gift certificate from Amazon:


  5. I absolutely can’t stand things like that. They do it so you’ll return and buy more, but for them to add so many limitations just gets rid of good will entirely to repatronise that establishment. I’d give it them back and say ‘No thanks!’

    And nice try with the Grand Theft Auto present for your wife!

    • James Lawther says:

      Glad it is not just me Hannah. Unfortunately my wife was a little ruder than “No thanks”

      Thanks for your comment


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