Aggressive Street Collectors Giving Good Charities a Bad Name

Posted by on Mar 02, 2011 | Leave a Comment

Table_03 Mar. 02 20.03

The behaviour of street collectors was highlighted at last night’s Devonport-Takapuna Board (DTB) meeting, where Mike Sheehy  – erstwhile Deputy Chair of the Takapuna Business Association – complained to the DTB about the “continual hassling” of customers in the Takapuna CBD.

This has also been an issue in Devonport which The Speculator has been monitoring, having been accosted a number of times on or near the Westpac corner by over-zealous collectors who are representing reputable charities.

Mr Sheehy claimed that the worst offenders were those employed by Greenpeace, and somewhat obtusely, The NZ Forest and Bird Society. Board member Joe Bergin named Shine City as another organisation whose collectors he had witnessed “crossing the line.”

Mr Sheehy stated that the collectors often used permits which were not applicable or had expired and if they had a permit, would sometimes flout the terms. As board member Joe Bergin commented, many of the permits provide a “permission to stand” which is exactly that; permission to stand on the footpath and talk to passers-by. “This is not the same as some of the aggressive behaviour claimed to have occurred” he said.

Mr Sheehy went on to point out that many of the collectors are no longer simply interested in securing a cash donation but are after the bank details of passers-by, with the intention of setting up a long term standing order. He believed the aggressive behaviour was due to the fact that many of the collectors were paid on a commission basis.

The question was asked; can the DTB review the way in which these permits are issued. Council Relationship Manager Christine Watson stated that the DTB has no “regulatory delegations” (ie a power to make regulatory decisions) and is therefore limited in the action it can take.

The DTB did agree to ask council officials to investigate the matter in order to understand how permits are currently issued.

Perhaps the best advice came from board member Jan O’Connor, who gave Mr Sheehy the date, time and place of the meeting and name of the Chair of the governing body’s regulatory committee, and suggested he approach the Chair directly with his concerns.

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