Julian Knight: In the name of charity, get rid of chuggers

You do see some sights in Hammersmith, where I live. Just yards from my front door this morning was someone dressed as Pudsey Bear, holding a big bucket.

Although the forced jollity of Children in Need has all the comic timing of a state funeral – and there is no earthly justification for the crime of Jeremy Vine wearing stockings and suspenders – I don’t mind giving a couple of quid to someone willing to dress up daft and stand in the pouring rain for a good cause.

But on walking into work I meet the manipulative face of modern charity; the teams of chuggers – a mix of charity collector and mugger – working the High Street. They are there every day, often the same people but in different- coloured jackets emblazoned with the name of the charity they are pitching for this week. This is the routine: they position themselves, with military precision, in the narrowest point on the pavement – where it’s hardest to get past (they should have based the smash-hit videogame Modern Warfare 2 on a team of chuggers). They accost me with shouts of “hello mate” inches from my face – a prelude to launching into some passive-aggressive sales spiel. And when I say “no thanks”, I’ve had times when these chuggers have snidely said: “Why, don’t you care, mate?”

But I do care about charity and that’s precisely the reason why I will never sign up to a pushy chugger. You see, these people aren’t volunteers, they are commission-hungry salespeople and they and their bosses take a big chunk of the cash that the giver thinks is going to the charity. What’s more, the damage that is done to the reputation of the charitable sector by what in modern marketing speak is called face-to-face fundraising – and I reckon if Dick Turpin were alive he’d have claimed to have been in face-to-face fundraising – is untold. They’re a menace and this Christmas shopping season they’ll

be everywhere, blocking a pavement near you, and trying their damnedest to push our collective guilt button. Don’t let them. We can all give directly to any charity we want to anyway.

It’s time to pressure the banks

As we report, the seemingly never-ending bank charges saga will take another twist this week. The Supreme Court will decide whether the Office of Fair Trading has the right to decide if the billions in charges levied by banks are unfair. The banks want to stop the OFT capping their charges, and, if they win, the implications for consumer protection will be massive. Basically, the OFT and the structure of UK consumer protection will be torched. These are big stakes indeed.

But if the banks lose then they really should leave the OFT to get on with its job. The RBS and Lloyds, which are basically nationalised, ought to be reminded that it’s not in the public interest to fight with what is, in effect, another part of the Government, the OFT. As for the Financial Services Authority’s generous freeze on bank-charge complaints, which is due to run till January but allows banks to continue to levy bumper fees, this should be ended immediately. In short, the Government and the FSA need to push the banks’ pressure points and get them to stop dragging this out any longer.

There are signs that some banks could be looking for a way out. The campaigning consumer website Moneysavingexpert published a Nationwide internal memo preparing staff to repay bank charges where people meet what it calls “exceptional circumstances”, such as incurring charges due to hospitalisation, bereavement, redundancy, relationship breakdown learning difficulties or even imprisonment. That’s a pretty wide interpretation of “hardship” and could lead to lots of claims being repaid.

And Abbey unveiled Zero, a new, no-charges bank account which seems revolutionary until the small print reveals that you can only get it if you have an Abbey mortgage. Have a bank account without a mortgage and you pay 28.7 per cent on unauthorised borrowing and a monthly fee of £25. That surely won’t pass muster if the OFT gets the chance to impose a cap.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

    £850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

    Business Analyst (Agile, SDLC, software)

    £45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    Finance Manager - Bank - Leeds - £300/day

    £250 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Finance Manager - Accountant - Bank...

    Compliance Officer - CF10, CF11, Compliance Oversight, AML, FX

    £100000 - £120000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fi...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn