A breed managing to make us dislike worthy charities...

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Quite aside from being known as one of the most irritating breeds of folk to stride our high streets, pushy charity collectors have also the misfortune of being known simply by the appalling nickname ‘chuggers’.

It is a name which, for many, just makes you think of a poor man’s Keith Chegwin. And Cheggers was rarely ever accused of being high brow.

It is, of course, the very least of their problems. Because apart from anything else, they are rapidly becoming some of the most despised folk you are likely to meet on a daily basis.

Sporting a fixed grin, a tabard and a clipboard, they act like Moses before the Red Sea; sending shoppers scattering or staring at a fixed point somewhere in the distance.

Like all good predators they will happily attack the weak. Are you a fresh-faced teenager who still believes the world is a good and happy place where good old fashioned naivety is your calling card to unlocking the world’s ills? Just the sort they want.

Heavily pregnant woman unable to pick up any speed on the pavement? Nabbed like a tiger pouncing on an antelope.

Mother with push chair? Like a lamb to the proverbial.

Old person? Come hither.

All of which makes them ghastly individuals and quite deserving of a stupid nickname.

But all of that is nothing new. Unless you are one, you don’t need telling about how annoying they are. (And if you are one, don’t for one second think anyone genuinely likes you or has even the smallest amount of respect for what you do. We don’t.)

Yet they provide us with some fascinating moral dilemmas.

First there is the fact these people are representing charities we have, over the years, grown to admire and support. Yet now, for all the money we have slung in their collection tins, all the sponsored walks we have done in their name, we get accosted on the street and direct debit forms wavered under our noses.

So we have to square away that charities (normal equation, charity = good, worthy, nice organisation) are in fact supporting something which could have quite a profound impact on the way we view certain charities going forward (eg. charity we loved = supporting someone who duped our teenager or elderly parent into forking out a regular payment from their tiny monthly allowance/followed us down the road being a pain in the good old a to the r to s to the e).

More than that, however – and clearly a key weapon in their arsenal – is that if we stand openly and say chuggers should be banned, we sound like we’re the sort who don’t like charity, don’t believe in it, or simply are just colossal tight wads.

As if we don’t understand the pressures charities are under, or the need for regular support to allow their undoubtedly fantastic work to continue. Well, I’m afraid to say, we do.

Yet it forces many to resort to using a method previously deployed to, again unnecessarily, prove they are not some nasty small-minded buffoon.

Rather than simply saying “chuggers are really annoying and I wish they’d all be cleared off the streets” they feel obliged to prefix it all with “I do donate to charity but I prefer to choose who, when and how much to give them”.

But stop.

You don’t need to justify yourselves.

You don’t need to explain to anyone why you don’t want to be stopped when you’re legging it around the high street in pursuit of a sandwich/box of cigarettes/copy of your super soaraway Kent on Sunday and instructed to donate money every month to a charity.

It is not necessary. And if it is the only way charities can get money then, unfortunately for them, they need to think of another way.

I understand it’s tough out there for charities – much as it is everyone else – but chugging just makes people take a genuine dislike to you. Makes you lose the goodwill you are dependant on.

And that doesn’t make sense to me.


  • There are strict rules in place when it comes to chuggers. For example, they are not allowed to follow you for more than three steps. So it's simple. Just walk off.

    Report this comment

    Bob the Builder

    Monday, April 22, 2013

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