Monday, 25 June 2012

Chuggers, charity muggers, the scourge of the high street

Today was not the best day to come at me in your bright orange tabard, waving a clip board and promising you don’t want my money.

You have been out in force again, harassing innocent city workers on their lunch break, wrestling them to the ground to relieve them of their hard-earned cash.

Yes, that’s right, you the blight on the landscape -  Chuggers.

It's the sight guaranteed to veer me off my usual course and force me onto a three-mile diversion to get my banana and diet Coke at lunchtime. 

Sinister huddles of grinning sales people, smacking their lips in anticipation as they see me coming, limbering up to guilt-trip me out of my address, phone number and bank account details.

Before I launch into a rant about these pestilences of modern society (oh yes, believe me I haven’t even started yet), I am going to point out that I do give to charity.

I donate regularly to the causes I wish to help, and my bag happens to be animals. That is my thing – I make no apology.

Billions of people give billions of pounds to human charities and I admire and respect them for that.

The minority who love animals, choose to support and give to the others who share this planet – and I do, generously and exclusively.

So when I get someone shoving a photograph of a starving child in my face telling me I should be giving to them instead – it irritates me, and that’s putting it mildly.

But it is not so much that which irks me about these co-called chuggers (Short for charity muggers). In fact the ones I politely asked to leave me alone today were  from a tiger charity.

No, my problem is this.

They are not selfless volunteers, pounding the streets to raise money for the good causes they claim to care so deeply about, putting their cause before themselves.

No, they are from marketing companies, paid by charities to pester people until they hand over their money as a last attempt to get them to bog off.

Well, quite frankly, I do not wish to contribute  my salary to help the streets become more cluttered by these annoyances.

Another thing which winds me up is their claim  they “do not want any money” to hook you in.

Quite frankly that smells like the back end of one of the endangered elephants they assure me my cash will end up rescuing.

All I have to do is send a text, they say, and in doing so  I shall save thousands of children in Africa – they even have a glossy brochure of before and after pictures to prove it.

So you do want my money then. But you will get it through wheedling my personal details out of me, before launching me into a lifetime of spam and junk mail misery.

Just a text message? Actually, it’s a premium-rate text, and my phone will no doubt become the target of endless spammy messages guaranteed to drive me mad.

There is also the arrogance and rudeness with which these daylight pick-pockets conduct their business. 

I don’t mean they swear at you, or anything like that. No, it’s their total disregard for your right, to say no, to be left in peace, to be free from guilt-mongery and hard sales talk.

“No”,  Mr Chugger, means “no” - comprendez?

It does not mean I now want you to start flapping and writhing around in front of me, assuring me you only want one minute when what you really intend is to sap my time for half an hour.

Popping out for a quick break has become a battle of wills, like running the gauntlet with a team of professional rugby tacklers.

They duck and dive around you, wriggle and jiggle from side to side, hold their arms up imploringly and wave photographs of skeletal children in your face.

One was even camped right outside Tesco’s today, right by the door, collaring people who had no other direction to turn.

Well I for one have had enough.

My message, after what feels like 10,000 polite “no thank you”s have fallen on deaf chugger ears, is this:

I am NOT interested.

I do not want YOU to tell ME which charities I should or should not be giving MY money to.

When I say “no” that is precisely what I mean. It does not give you carte blanch to start trying to trip me up or forcing me to stop.

And what's more, manipulating people to cough up through devious means is not consistent with that time-honoured essence of charity - accepting and giving privately, with humility and gratitude.

Come near me ONCE MORE – and it will be YOU who will need charitable assistance.


  1. The fact remains that they are not there to 'con' anyone - nor do the majority do that. They are there to say to people who have thought about giving or perhaps not realised the importance of giving (I'm sorry but it's true for most) that the cause is urgent, and it needs to change. Yes, there are some 'chuggers' who are rude, or forceful - but there are workers of other professions such as those in shops (for example) who show this behaviour and is there the same outrage? No. It's ridiculous to say that every STREET FUNDRAISER is perfect, but a lot work hard and truly believe in what they do, despite getting paid - I have many friends who make large donations to the charities they represent. Also, I would like to ask you to check the dictionary for the definition of 'mugger'. Have you ever been mugged? I've never seen a fundraiser being violent and actually stealing from a person whilst signing them up? Have you? The term is offensive and completely unfounded - THAT is RUDE.
    Quite frankly, you sound like an arrogant, ignorant person who has nothing better to do than moan about someone saying 'Hi, How are you?'

  2. Anonymous: "Quite frankly, you sound like an arrogant, ignorant person who has nothing better to do than moan about someone saying 'Hi, How are you?'"

    What a well thought out, trenchant argument! :-) I have had my path blocked by chuggers - and I mean they jumped in my way deliberately. Also I've had them follow me down the street bleating many times. They will not take "no" for an answer so I "arrogantly" use stronger language.

    I know about the PFRA and their "regulations" but any chugger who keeps to the rules doesn't make enough money. The truth is that they are commission sales(wo)men and they act like it.