‘Pushy’ charity tactics under fire

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Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

A leading charity has defended its use of “pushy” sales teams trying to sign up supporters in night-time calls in Suffolk.

Red Cross are understood to use a “face to face fundraising agency” to sign up people prepared to make regular contributions through their bank.

But there is growing unease at the way the teams bang on doors up until 9pm at night.

The canvassers, who are not directly employed by the charity but a field marketing agency and work on commission, want people to sign up on the spot to pay a minimum of 33p a day to the charity.

But not everyone welcomes the night-time knocks.

One villager in Monks Eleigh, where a Red Cross tabard-wearing young man was trying to drum up support door to door this week, said:”I already support several charities, some of them local. I certainly don’t want a salesman calling in the evening asking me for money.

“They are quite pushy and try and make you feel mean-spirited if you say you are not prepared to sign there and then. There are a number of older women living on their own in this village and this type of salesmen seems to regard them as easy prey.”

A British Red Cross spokesperson, said: “Door to door fundraising is vital to the lifesaving work of the Red Cross.. Our fundraisers work between the hours of 8.30 am and 9 pm, the industry standard hours.

“We do not know the names or the personal details of the people living in the houses we approach, but if people do not want these visits they can contact our supporter care team by phone on 0300 456 11 55.”

Earlier this year Colchester council decided to curb “aggressive” charity canvassers in the town centre.

The ‘chuggers’ - or charity muggers - have been banned from all the streets in the centre apart from the High Street and Culver Street and they can only canvas on these two streets on Mondays and Tuesdays. It was reported at the time that a “chugger” receives £35 commission for every signature they get and their employer a similar amount.

But critics claim that people signing up to support one charity will have their details sold on to other charities leading to more uninvited and unwanted approaches.