Chuggers, charity canvassers to put it differently, are under fire again. A London council is seeking to ban them outright. But are chuggers really committing ‘legal robbery’ as one Islington councillor claims?
Back in December, Which? Money investigated the charity sector. You could say we were critical of some forms of giving, with especial ire reserved for charity canvassers. Since then I’ve received numerous correspondence from readers who’ve criticised the article for being ‘anti-charity’.
That’s not right. Which? criticises the banks all the time, that doesn’t mean we don’t like money. The point is that if there is a lousy operation out there, we want to highlight it for consumers and hopefully encourage it to change its ways.
Islington council plans to ban chuggers
When it comes to chuggers, the issue is more complicated than bank bashing. Charities do a marvellous job, raising billions for all manner of good causes. It’s just that some of the processes employed leave a lot to be desired.
This explains why councils around the country have been using byelaws to ban chuggers, with the latest being Islington in north London. Islington Councillor Paul Convery has said:
‘There are too many, they hassle people and they are in your face. It seems to be legal robbery in some ways and it gives charities a bad name. The time has come to tackle this nuisance.’
Does he have a point? Should councils have a right to prevent charity workers from approaching people in public places?
For and against chuggers
The pro-chug camp will argue that if they didn’t door-step shoppers on the streets, good causes would lose out to the tune of millions of pounds. Without chuggers, they argue, thousands of people who might be willing to give to charity won’t, because it’s not at the forefront of their mind.
The anti-chug brigade resents what they see as an infringement of their rights to go about their business unheeded. They bristle at having to dodge eager canvassers who bound up to you, and lay a guilt trip on anyone who isn’t willing to sign away a regular donation on the spot.
The arguments are strong on both sides. I could sit on the fence and point out that chuggers have to follow a set of rules that stops them from hassling people. Indeed, a polite ‘no’ should be enough to ward approaching chuggers off. But if I did that you’d probably stop reading.
The truth is that I can’t walk down a busy high street without running the gauntlet of chuggers. It’s tiresome at best, and a little intimidating at worst.
Should charities mystery shop chuggers?
Giving to charity should be a choice, not an obligation. Charity workers should respect people’s right to walk on by, not stop and give them a hearing. There may be rules in place governing how charity workers should conduct themselves, but they’re clearly not working.
I reckon that the charities should do more, get out on the streets and see how their employees conduct themselves, before more councils take action and chugging is banned across the country. If they reign in their enthusiastic workers, they may find more people are willing to give them a chance.
Do you think councils should ban chuggers?
Yes - chuggers are a nuisance (54%, 234 Votes)
No - chuggers are essential to raise money (32%, 140 Votes)
If the rules are tightened, chuggers can stay (14%, 63 Votes)
Total Voters: 437