They say you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. But gift baskets could be one of those presents to think twice about giving. We ordered 10 wrapped and delivered food hampers, costing between $105 and $135. For 5 of them, we found the value of the contents was worth half, or less, of the basket price.
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You’d expect to pay something extra for the convenience of a stylish gift basket delivered to the door. But we found the mark-up on some hampers meant you did not get much bang for your buck.
Bliss Baskets & Gifts offered the worst value. It comprised:
Our price check at supermarkets and gourmet food stores found these items would cost $39 to buy in store (excluding the picnic basket) – less than half the $99 we paid.
The gift also arrived without the chocolate almonds listed in the description on the company’s website (see “Missing goods”).
The $95 hamper from Gift Barn was the next poorest value. It contained $41 worth of food items and was missing a packet of crackers.
Better value was the contents in the Gourmet Gifts’ box ($119), which would have cost us $96 to recreate. Korora Gifts’ $99 hamper and My Goodness’ $109 basket were the next best value, with $80 and $78 worth of food items respectively.
The companies say the wrapping of the hampers is a significant additional cost – some use bespoke boxes, ribbons and cards.
We convened a panel of 10 Consumer staffers and asked them which gift hamper they’d most like to receive. My Goodness was the overwhelming favourite, receiving 8 votes.
One panellist said it contained a “great range of items [and] a lot of New Zealand-made products”. Another commented the gift had “something for everyone”. The basket was also the quickest to arrive at its destination.
The appearance of the My Goodness flax basket also impressed our panel, earning a very good rating on average. Five panellists rated it the most visually appealing basket.
At the bottom of the scale was the bag used by About Giving. It received a presentation rating of poor from our panel. You’ll get a heads up on how the basket will look before ordering – all 10 companies displayed the gift’s box, crate or bag in photos.
Some panellists noticed a few dents in the Gift Barn box, earning it low marks for appearance. The courier left the hamper upside down when it was dropped off. With just a layer of bubble-wrap around it, this box also had the least amount of protective packaging.
The baskets from About Giving, Bliss Baskets & Gifts and Korora Gifts were packaged well and arrived unscathed in a cardboard box.
The Batenburgs basket left us with plenty of packaging to dispose of: it arrived in an oversized box with lots of shredded paper.
Our panellists rated the contents of the gift baskets as poor value for money. When we revealed the price of the hampers, the panel was aghast at their cost. Two panellists described the prices as “insane” and “crazy” respectively. No panellist would consider personally using the services at the prices charged.
Three baskets arrived missing an item listed in their online descriptions.
Bliss Baskets & Gifts basket arrived without its chocolate almonds, Gift Barn’s was absent a box of crackers and Giftbox Boutique’s a pack of breadsticks. The Consumer Guarantees Act specifies products must match any descriptions and photos.
As the person ordering a gift basket may not be in the same city or country as the person who receives it, customers could get short-changed without anyone noticing.
When we contacted Bliss Baskets & Gifts about the discrepancy, it couriered the missing almonds (plus 2 boxes of chocolates).
The company says there was “absolutely no excuse for the almonds not to have been in the basket other than human error and that is not acceptable … Since this has been brought to our attention, we have once again reviewed the checking procedures.”
Gift Barn and Giftbox Boutique offered us a $3 and $5 refund respectively after we contacted them.
Gift Barn says a substitute product for the crackers should have been sent but “on this occasion we omitted to do this”.
Giftbox Boutique says it will review its pre-postage checks. “We were disappointed to learn an item had mistakenly been left out by a staff member. This is a very unusual occurrence,” it says.
Some of the companies sent substitutions in place of products listed on the website (typically just the 1 item, though Bright In Boxes made 3). The companies’ terms and conditions state that if an item is unavailable, substituted products will be of equal or greater value. A substitution of lesser value would breach their terms and consumer law.
When substitutions make a significant difference to the contents of the basket, the company should contact the purchaser to check they still want to make the purchase.
Missing item (replaced)
Missing item (refunded)
Missing item (refunded)
GUIDE PRICE is what we paid for the gift baskets and standard delivery to Wellington. OUR COST TO BUY CONTENTS based on non-discounted prices from online and Wellington supermarkets and food stores during October and November 2017. The prices of some items were only available through manufacturers’ or distributors’ websites, but delivery costs were excluded. Where the same size or flavour wasn’t available, we calculated a proportional price or used the brand’s alternative flavour. One item (serviettes) was substituted using a different brand. Contents include food, drink and grocery items but not containers, wrapping or missing items. Gift companies included in our survey were selected based on internet search results data.
We asked our members which food items they’d want in their ideal gift basket.
Of the 250 respondents, more than two-thirds said they’d be happy to receive chocolates, crackers and wafers, and nuts in a hamper. Other popular items were cheese, jams and relishes.
Pasta and popcorn were unpopular options. Although nearly half would be pleased to find a bottle of bubbles in a gift basket, just 1 in 10 voted for spirits.
When we asked members how they’d feel about receiving a gift basket for Christmas, 70% said they’d love to get one. 2% said they wouldn’t be happy.
By Olivia Wannan