Monday, 20 August 2012

New rules to restrict chuggers - about time


I have never been one to hold back how I feel about chuggers.

You know, those youngsters who accost you in the street with a clip board before persuading you to give money to good causes.

After jumping out in front of you grinning “How are we today sir?” they launch into a pitch which usually begins “I’m not after any money” - yeah, right.

They used to be a occasional irritation along the high street, waiting until they had caught your eye before coming up to you with a big smile and a pen poised to take down your financial details.

But in the space of what can only be a year or two, their campaign has reached new levels of ferocity, their techniques almost aggressive.

Previously, a glance in the other direction would do the trick, now it’s like navigating an assault course of bodies in coloured tabards, and if you do get collared, it’s a battle of wills as to whether you escape with your bank balance intact.

So you can imagine my delight at the news today that these so-called charity muggers are going to be bound by tight new regulations restricting how they conduct their business.

They are not going to be allowed to make someone “stop involuntarily or change direction”, approach people who are “on duty”, such as newspaper vendors, or people who are seated, or stand within three metres of a shop doorway, pedestrian crossing, cashpoint or station entrance.

Brilliant news, especially as these are hotspots where up until now they have usually lurked, waiting to catch their unsuspecting prey off guard.

Charities or fundraising agencies will be penalised with points against their names each time a breach of the new rules is reported to the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA). 

And points mean fines. Offenders will also be named and shamed.

This is good news, but I am prepared for a moment to look at the other side of the argument.

I can see they have a tough job to do. Pestering people to earn a living is not fun, and it must be soul destroying having to drum up enthusiasm day in day out only to be greeted by blank stares or angry scowls.

And they, like everyone else are merely doing a job to pay their own way, undoubtably with targets to meet and managers to please.

So maybe a bit of peaceful co-existence is needed.

I shall continue to smile and say no thank you in as pleasant a manner as I can, as long as you respect that when I say no, I mean it.

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