In almost every town and city centre, among the herds of shoppers, armies of workers running between meetings and awe-struck tourists, a distinct and fairly new group of workers, the ‘chuggers’, lurk in the crowds. Charity workers who seek generous donations from members of the public, ‘chuggers’ (the word essentially means ‘charity muggers’) have become an issue of great debate in their recent history, with the opinion divided between their good for charitable causes and their often confrontational sales approach.
However, it has been announced today that a new set of strict rules are to be imposed upon these street fundraisers to clamp down on reports of intrusive and demanding behaviour towards unwitting members of public from such figures on the street. As part of the new rules, ‘chuggers’ will not be allowed to follow a member of the public for more than three steps nor be permitted to sign up any donations from people who may be drunk or unable to make a rational decision.
‘Chuggers’ will also be forced to distinctly remove themselves from any ties with public and commercial buildings with rules stating that the workers must stand within three metres of a shop doorway, cash machine, pedestrian crossing or tube street entrance. Under these laws established by the UK Public Fundraising Regulatory Association, any ‘chugger’ caught breaking these rules will see their charity incur fines of up to £1,000.
This announcement comes just after the council attempted a crackdown on York’s rogue street traders earlier this year. This saw a major review of the controls in place for street traders in York following complaints made last autumn about ‘gag mag’ charity magazine sellers in the centre who some members of the public described as “intimidating and aggressive”.
As part of a twitter poll, a number of York residents expressed a clear aversion towards the ‘chugging’ technique with Steve Cult tweeting “they should be banned. We don’t walk our street to be harassed!” A similar sentiment was expressed by Tom Cook who tweeted “I’m all for raising awareness of charities, but they tend to make me feel rude when I decline their invitation to chat”. Lee Benecke added a slightly different slant tweeting: “I find the guys selling the comedy mag annoying. The classic “have you got a sense of humour?” opening gambit is classic”.
What are your thoughts on ‘chugging’? Is it a worthy attempt to raise a charity’s awareness and funds or a glorified sales attack that is unappreciated and unacceptable?