Reclaim the (High) Streets!

Call for street canvasser boycott (BBC)

Or, to put it another way, death to the chuggers! The town where I live seems to attract lots of market research and lots of charity muggers. The former are annoying, but easy to wave away with an absent minded “sorry, in a terrible hurry”, but that doesn’t always work with the fake good cheer and over-familiarity of the chuggers. They annoy me in a couple of ways.

For a start, I object to being stopped in the street by someone I’ve never met in my life. That doesn’t make me a heartless bastard, leaving thousands of poor children to die of cancer or fester in orphanages, despite what our nylon-bibbed friends might try to suggest. In the privacy of my own home I’m capable of quite miraculous bursts of empathy. I can even fill in a direct debit form… without help!

If the guilt tactic is my first objection, the second is the fact that my goodwill and empathy is being watered down and compromised by a ‘middle man’ taking a commission. I imagine their argument is that, in return for their commission, they generate far more donations to charities… but do they? Or do they just create a generally bad feeling of obligation and, again, guilt? Are people put off for good by these tactics, meaning that they never take the time to look for the charities they *really* want to support?

It’s more than this, though. I think the chuggers also annoy me by being part of a wider problem, which includes the clipboard-wielding market research people, the cheap phonecard distributors, the advertising leaflet people, the god-botherers… they’re all part of a general background noise that doesn’t need to be there.

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4 Responses to Reclaim the (High) Streets!

  1. premiump says:

    When we were in Edinburgh last month, we were “accosted” by somebody in a pink leotard for a donation to Breast Cancer Research. “No problem, there is a shiny pound, now run along”. What is galling is that we were stopped a further three times by people collecting for the same charidee; on the last occasion by the bloody pink leotard who we gave money to the first time! Come on, get a grip!!

  2. thought you might like this excerpt from a blog I follow;-

    …there are people on our street walking around almost naked.

    We are on the main run for delivery of every single plastic appeal bag requesting that we give generously from our stockpiles of unused clothes. Fair enough.

    We get approximately three per week – all with seemingly good causes in mind.

    I live on a great street with good hearted and geneous nighbours. I often see them leaving full bags out for the collectors. Soon some of them will be going shopping and doing the gardening naked. Its cold at the moment – I don’t think I coul bear the sight of it.

    I have a plan though. I have started collecting clothes from charity shops to fill the bags. I spend a few pounds getting a bag full of clothes and making the old ladies in the Sue Ryder Shop very happy; which I use to fill the ‘Give Generously Bags’. Ingenious. Everyone wins. Everyone feels good.

    Admitedly it woudl be easier just handing the money over but think of all the industry which would be lost. The packing and unpackaging. The glee of volunteers.

    I do wonder though if its all just a self perpetuating cycle with the clothes being like a modern currency of compassion absorbing light and energy, but achieving and generating little.

    There are some peripheral benefits though. I do have a nice Christmas going out outfit whih cost me £3.

    I’m the one in the grey, yellow and pink floral shirt.

  3. SteveShark says:

    It’s not just the chuggers, either.
    I got accopsted in a railway station by people wanting me to rent a phone line from them and then at the supermarket by people wanting to wash my car.
    Both these were there with permission but I really don’t appreciate the imposition. If I pass through a station that’s all I want to do – when I visit a supermarket I just want some groceries.

  4. Matt Darcy says:

    I always ask them for their full name and address and bank details, or if they are subscribed to the direct debit, so I can check if they are, how can they expect me to subscribe to something they are selling if they are not subscribed their self.

    Most won’t give you the name and address to a strange, so why should I pass my bank details to a stranger.

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