Sunday, 10 March 2013

Minding my own business...

There I was, minding my own business on friday afternoon, when the phone rang. Our landline doesn't ring that often, and, in fairness, when it DOES, it's generally a sales call, or one of those annoying messages telling me that I can avoid repaying debts (which I don't have, and which, if I did, I would have probably incurred fairly, and therefore should knuckle down and pay fairly, too) or somesuch nonsense. I ambled into the front room to answer it,and it turned out to be a chap from the RSPB, which was marginally more interesting than I had at first suspected, however, as we are regular donators (via a Direct Debit membership) to the Society, I had a feeling that it was not going to be simply a social call...


He politely asked if I had time to chat, and I confirmed that I did, and we chatted a bit about our reasons for joining, which reserves we visited (I mentioned Balranald being a favourite, which caused a moment or two of surprise - I don't think he was expecting that!) and the projects that the Society had ongoing at present. All very interesting stuff, but I was aware the whole time of the conversation building up to its point. I was curious to know how long this would take. Eventually he moved on to the question of our membership, being quick to assure us that they were "so grateful to people like us, who donate regularly like this" and then continued as I expected to ask if we were in a position to increase this at all. Now I know a lot of folk get really annoyed at this, but to be honest I don't have too much of a problem with it. I had every option to say I didn't have time to speak, and could at any point have cut him short...


...I explained that over the past few years our household income had taken a drop by about a third, and in fact we had come close at one stage to deciding that the RSPB membership was one of those little non-essentials that should go, but although we'd committed to maintaining our support, no, we couldn't spare any more money for them at the moment. All very reasonable, I took a conscious decision to explain precisely why we could not increase, and fully expected that, barring the pleasantries, that would be the end of the conversation. Sure enough, he assured me that of course he could understand our position entirely, and that was absolutely fine....


...then to my astonishment he said "what a lot of our members have been doing is increasing their donation by just a few pounds each month - do you think maybe that is something you could do?" I was quite seriously annoyed. So far as I was concerned I had been asked a straightforward question which I had answered honestly. To be asked a second time in spite of this just seemed like rudeness in the extreme. I mentally counted to ten whilst I stopped myself telling him precisely what I thought of his suggestion, and then calmly and rationally stated that I appreciated that he was almost certainly just following a script, but that I would appreciate if he could feed back to his superiors that to repeat this sort of request a second time when a perfectly concise reason for not being able to afford to donate more has been given was simply insensitive, and that continuing to harass people in this way would, in my view, lead to people being tempted to actually cancel their existing memberships.


So, what's your take on this sort of commercialised fundraising? It does seem somewhat cynical, particularly in the light of the fact that the phone call was made mid afternoon, at a time when presumably it is reasonable to assume that if the phone was even answered it was going to be an indicator of the fact that the person asking was not in full time work. In the event of receiving another of these calls from the RSPB in the future I would simply say that I did not have time to talk, and that would be that, but the whole thing has left me with a lingering bad taste...

Robyn

10 comments:

wendz said...

Cor you handled that well!

Honestly I don't care who it is and how polite they might be, I cut them all short - very sharpish.I know they are just doing their job but heck no, there are just too many of these calls and they are blooming intrusive.

So very well done you - I'd have become quite cross.

Robyn said...

You know, I was quite happy to talk to him, but I was SO furious when he pushed the point about the increased donations. He had no IDEA what the circumstances were - it could have been due to bereavement, or serious illness, or whatever, it was just too much to ask again. I was impressed that I didn't totally lose it though!

Pat Machin said...

I've cancelled every direct debit to charities because of this constant pushing for more.

I will now only give anonymously.

I think you were very patient.

Wittgenstein's Watering Can said...

I think you've witnessed my ranting about modern charity practices before (erm yes, blatant blog post link on a similar topic... http://wittgensteinswateringcan.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/walking-running-jumping-and-giving.html)... but I am convinced that the bad feeling brought about by this sort of hassling is a big risk to the future of charities. I will happily give occasional and/ or regular donations but do not harrass me with a clipboard and ask me to sign up to something in the street, do not knock on my door and do not phone me up!

Wendy said...

I think it's bad enough to be pressed for money by an organisation that you don't already support, but for an organisation that you do support to become persistent is really disappointing. It can just put you off altogether (and it has to be counter productive).

Robyn said...

Well I've tweeted that post twice, and both times have included the RSPB's Twitter address, so they should know about it by now. Hopefully it will encourage them to shake up their practises.
WWC - thanks for including that link, I'd forgotten about that post of yours until you mentioned that.

Scarlet said...

I would have been furious.They just don't seem to be able to take no for an answer. I was accosted in my front garden by someone with a clipboard just after we moved in. I explained that I make a regular donation to my local heart charity - the one that supported me when I was diagnosed. The sales pitch continued so I told him I'd explained why I wouldn't be signing up, turned on my heel and went in, leaving him standing there.What annoys me more is that they assume that I have a lot of money and that I am fair game because of where I live - the opposite is true, and we've made huge sacrifices in order to live here.

Robyn said...

Ahh yes, the dreaded "assumptions" - now THERE is a blog post in the making! As soon as people hear what MrEH does for a living they automatically assume that he's on megabucks, but that's not the case, these days his money isn't bad, but that's a relatively recent thing, and anyway, paying an extra-large chunk to the mortgage every month sees off the extra! Had my money still been where it was 3 years ago things would be very different, but the hard fact is that I am earning less than half now, what I was then. I just think that the standard instruction should be that they should take it that no means just that.

Fawad Tariq said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Robyn said...

Fawad Tariq - your unwanted spammy bollocks has been deleted and you have been reported to Google. I suggest you leave my blog alone in the future.
Have a nice day.