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Emails to 'CharityBags' (anonymised)

Introduction

Computer keyboard (courtesy of James Gardiner)

A reminder of our email address (image) :

CharityBags address (image)

The entries below give a flavour of the sorts of emails we receive.

We're very grateful to everyone who has taken the trouble to email us.

Anonymity

World globe and email
 
 
@

With each email below, we've tried hard to get the right balance between :

Where we've omitted information, we've used "..." dots or"xxxx" or added [comments in italics in square brackets].

Related pages :

From the media


BBC logo (our thanks to the BBC and Wikipedia)

Email from a regional team - wanting information on clothing collections.


"We are filming an item on charity bag theft and bogus clothing collections this week.  Would be great to speak to you regarding the research that you have done and the source of your stats - specifically the tonnage of clothing lost to charities each year and the actual money lost to charities.  ..."


Pile of newspapers

Email from a journalist on a national broadsheet - wanting information on charity shops and the recession.


"My name is ... and I work for the ... newspaper.  We are looking to do a story on bags being collected by what looks like charities but sold elsewhere for profits.
Would really appreciate a call to discuss this further.  My number is ..."    [2011]


"Subject: Interview request
I am a freelance journalist currently researching a feature about bogus charity collections and the theft of clothing bags.  I know that your organisation aims to tackle this scam, so I would love to have a chat to one of you about your campaign and pick your brains about the extent of the problem."


From local councils


Emails from local council - asking if we can provide information on specific collectors or charities operating in their area.  For example:  Have we come across them? What do we know about them? Are they genuine?

Example :

"Do you have any knowledge of . . . Ltd?  They are leaving flyers at the moment in the southern part of our area; and are not licensed by us.  I've found that they're based at an address in . . . , but at present cannot find out much more about them."


From the police


"Subject: Theft from supermarket collection point

I am a Police community support officer for [town] in [county].  Yesterday a member of public reported witnessing theft from an Oxfam clothing recycling centre in Sainsbury's car park.

I have done a crime report for this but I need a HQ address and contact number for Oxfam.  Could you please send this to me?

Thank you. "


From charities


"Subject: Bogus collectors        [2010]

Dear Sir/Madam

I am currently working on a project for the [national charity], investigating bogus collector activity in preparation for a meeting we have organised later this month with representatives from both the [regulator] and the [charity co-ordinating organisation].

House to house collections provide a vital source of income for our charity and the increasing threat posed by bogus collectors is of serious concern. 

I have collated numerous 'charity' bags/leaflets over the last few weeks but in addition have found your website very informative and must thank you for the level of detail that you have available on line.

Regards "


Email from a national charity which was allowing a company to collect clothes on their behalf.  They wanted to know how to get a (so they didn't have to get separate licences from dozens of different local councils).


Email from the fundraising section of a University Hospitals NHS Trust (extract) :

". . .  Our charity does not have any charity shops so how would we raise money from the collection of clothes from the doorstep?  Have you any idea how much this sort of fundraising would raise if the clothes were then sold on by us or would they go for rags?


The extract below is from a thought-provoking email (in 2010) from an authorised stock collector, working for a respected national charity(with charity shops) *:

". . . Your site is excellent and gives a lot of good advice and information.  . . .

I am a little concerned about ... Commercial Collectors.  These are the main problem for us because they post out bags in large numbers (1,000's at one time).  This diminishes the available area to Charities like us who have Shops - who depend on regular doorstep collections.

If these Commercial Companies are operating for more than one Charity, this exacerbates the problem.  For example Commercial Collectors for [name of a charity] also post out for [name of a 2nd charity], and this means areas get a double hammering from the same collector.  It is madness!

Our [charity] shops have designated areas per shop - and I can tell you they are currently swamped by Commercial Collection Bags.  This means we have to find other areas outside of the Shop's locality to be able to post our bags out, and this increases the cost of those collections.  Good as your site may be, the majority of the Public still unwittingly donate to these Commercial Collectors who make themselves appear to be the actual Charity.

I personally hope that a change in the Law will eventually come to make Commercial Collectors change the sign writing on their collection vans to their own Commercial name and NOT the name of the Charity they are collecting for.  This is very misleading for the Public, who are conned into thinking that the vehicle actually is owned and operated by the Charity, when in actual fact it is bought or leased from the profits they make from the doorstep collections! "


Email from a charity which runs an for young people.  Each year the centre accumulates hundreds of items of surplus clothing and equipment left by participants - many items in good condition.  Did we know of any charity which would take the items - eg to sell in charity shops?


From charity shops


Email from the merchandise manager of a national charity :

He wanted to know more about us - such as our funding and status.


Music notation

Email from a small charity in N England with a charity shop.  A customer had bought a donated second-hand from the shop.  It had defects, but these had been pointed out to the customer before purchasing.  Later she returned saying she'd changed her mind and wanted a refund.  She added that trading standards had told her she was entitled to a refund.  The charity wanted our opinion on the legal position (having read the section on consumer law on our charity shops page).

We wrote back with the following information :


Email from the manager of a charity shop in Kent.  She thought our figure for the of a charity shop was an under-estimate, and suggested we increase the figure.


From clothing collectors


An email - probably from a clothing collector.  He explained that collecting clothes is surprisingly expensive, and (in his opinion) charities generally get a good deal and useful publicity.


Email from an organisation wanting to start charitable collections :

"I am looking to purchase around with print on the sack and on both sides of the mailer.  Could you supply them or tell me where I could get them, and what price per item are they."

We suggested various options - including contacting the Charity Retail Association (CRA).


Flag of Scotland

Email from a - which carries out textile collections on behalf of several well-known charities.  They wanted to expand into England.  They asked us for information on the licensing rules governing charitable collections in England.


From overseas collectors

Emails from abroad (especially Eastern Europe) - from wanting to buy clothes off us.  Eg how much would we charge per tonne?

Examples (verbatim) :

"Hi. My name is . . .  .  I would like to know how can I to buy 5 tons clothing collection at your company?
Thanks"

"good morning

We're new firm and We would like establish cooperation.
If there is buy used clothing good qualities sorted and unsorted?
What is price per tonne clothings ?
If capability of transport is for poland is which cost and?

Thank You"

"My name is  . . .  and Im from Romania.  I want to ask you if you need leaflet-distribution (sack distributor).  ive worked for charity [name] in Newcastle 4 month and activities there is finished.  im a seriuos boy I can work hard (I can posting over 1000 per day if is need)  i send you a cv [attached] and this latter,  tell me please if you need.  thank you very much.  have good day!! good bye!"

"Do you sell the clothes that you collect?  If you do, how do you sell them and what sort of weight do you sell a month?"

"Hello!

i'm interested to buy used colthes.
What is the minimal order, weight?
Is it possible to get some discount for huge order?
Do I need my own transport?
Is it sorted or unsorted clothing?
Do you sell toys or jewelery as well?

Best regards [name] Poland "

"Subject: Hello i want to ask how open legal charity company       [from Lithuania]

:) i read many thinks, and i wanna work legal on charity.  give some donation maybe 50 or 100 pounds per tona. i dont wanna work without papers.  please can you tell me what steps i need to do to open legal company.  big thanks :) "

"Subject: INTEREST IN ORIGINAL MERCHANDISE

We are a [European] company of second-hand clothing.
We are a family business since 19xx located in [name of city].

The reason I send you this mail is because we are looking for more original merchandise.

Could you give us your prices and quantities available monthly?
We would like to buy about 200 tons/month or more."

"Subject: Bag envelopes (plastic)       [2010, From a .bg domain =Bulgaria]

I want to order envelopes bags (plastic) is it possible ?"


From other organisations

Companies - offering to donate clothes etc to charities


Hat

Email from a national which had brand-new sample stock (footwear, bags etc) which they no longer needed.  They wanted to donate the items to a charity.  They'd already contacted charities.  Alas, some were lukewarm, and others had failed to reply.  Did we know of a charity which would be genuinely interested and co-operative?

We put them in contact with a well-known national charity shop chain.  The charity collected the goods (two pallets) and distributed them to its shops.  We hope this will lead to a long-term relationship between the two organisations.


Companies - miscellaneous


Email from a national chain of .  They'd had a request from a Clothes Aid 'subsidiary' (a franchisee) wanting to rent premises.  The agents wanted to know more about Clothes Aid - before deciding whether to let the premises to them.


Email from a firm of solicitors in Central London - they were advising a client who's a collector :

"Subject: Licence query

I would be grateful if you could help me with the following query : -

Does a business who is collecting clothes from people's houses and then ... [passing them on] to a charity need a licence with the local authority - even if they have made a solicitation statement and also have a written agreement with that charity?"


"We manufacture charity bags for house to house collections.  Can we advertise on your site ?"


A cheeky (unethical) email in 2011 from a British "online marketing" company (we ignored it) :

"Subject: Small Donation

Hi there, I'd love to make a donation to support the CharityBags.org.uk website.

We work with a number of clients, some of which I thought would be suited to your links page:

http://www.charitybags.org.uk/links.shtml#computing
    xxxxxxxxx Software - provides secure email management

http://www.charitybags.org.uk/links.shtml#re-use_and_recycling
    xxxxxxxxx - Recycled and biodegradable coffee cups, paper cups and plastic cutlery
    xxxxxxxxx - Don't buy new sofas that cost the earth, buy a second hand sofa!

I could make a small donation of £50 as soon as you add these links to your links page via paypal.  Let me know if you might be interested.  I look forward to hearing from you."


From the public

Public - offering information on collections


Numerous emails giving information on clothing collections.
Sometimes they attach scanned images of the leaflets which they've received.

We're very grateful to the contributors.  We try to add the information to the website - especially to the pages called:

A Leicester resident kindly sent us images of collection flyers delivered to the city's Mosque areas.  Most of these had part of the wording in Arabic or Urdu - eg one from the 'Al-Ain International Trust' (an eyesight charity).

Other examples:

"Subject: Recent charity bags           [Sept 2010]

Here are details of some recent bags that have come through my letterbox.  I live at ... in Hampshire.

- National Blind Children's Society [with details]
- RNLI [with details]
- Little Treasures Children's Trust [with details]

I hope this information will be of use!

Regards,  ...  "

"Subject: Rutex Ltd leaflet

I was looking at your website when I noticed this leaflet that came through my door and investigated it.
I hope it will be of some use ... "       [JPG image of leaflet attached]

"Hi,

I blogged recently on Scam Bags and found your site which I included for reference: [address of blog]

This week we have so far had two bags and a leaflet from [company name] using a different dodge which I thought you might be interested in.  Copies attached.

Well done with your efforts.  You should be advertised more widely."     [2010]

"Subject: Yet another bogus collector     [May 2009]

I received today a collection bag from a bogus charity called "Helping Hand" that is probably well-known to you.

Can you please advise me how to report this scan so that other householders in my area do NOT contribute to the profits of "Helping Hand"?

How and to whom should I report this scam?


Public - offering clothes etc


Emails from well-meaning people who thought (mistakenly) that we were charity clothing collectors - offering us bags of clothes (and other items).

We reply explaining that we don't collect clothes (and we don't buy them or sell them).  We suggest how they can donate them - eg to charity shops.

Examples :

"We have a very nice corner bath, size 1280 x 1280, which is too good to throw away, would you be interested in collecting it from us?  We also have a matching bathroom sink."   [2009]

"Subject: Televisions and other electrical equipment

Dear Sir/Madam,

I wonder if you could tell me if your Oxfam shop in Glasgow takes televisions for sale in its shop?  If so, could they pick up 2 televisions and perhaps other electrical equipment e.g. a DVD player, Video recorder?

Thank you for your help in this matter."

"Subject: I've got clothes to give away

My name is ... and my phone number's 079....... or 0208.......  
I live at ... [Essex] and I've got some clothes to give.
I was wondering if you can come and collect because it's a lot.  Thanks."

"Subject: hi         [2010]

i put a bag out for you guys to pick up at 1xx [street name] glasgow [postcode] just to let you know"

"Subject: Error/theft        [no address given, 2010]

To whom it may concern

Today my daughter left her swimbag and clothes outside our door someone from your company lifted this as a donation how they have mistaken this is beyond me, I believe this constitutes theft.  I want her stuff back please ring me 0789xxxxxxx immediately to solve this situation."

"Subject: Washing Basket

Please can you contact me regarding a missing washing basket.  Tel: 078xxxxxxxx.

Many thanks Anthony"

Ever since we received the email above, we've referred to this category of email affectionately as a "washing basket" email - in other words those from well-meaning people who think (mistakenly) that CharityBags collects clothes.


Public - wanting information on how to donate - eg local charity shops or collections


Numerous emails asking us for details of their nearest .

We refer them to various sources of information - including :

Emails from people who are unable to take their clothes to a charity shop - eg they're disabled or haven't got a car.  Do we know of any charity/charity shop which will come to collect the items?  Examples:

" Hi,

I have loads of very good clothes and shoes to give away.  I suffer from back pain and don't drive, can you please give contact numbers of some genuine charities who can collect from my home.

I live in [area], London.  Tel no. 0208 ... or mob ....

Thanks. "

"I have some clothes I would like to donate to a charity.  Unfortunately I work late most evenings and don't have time to drop the clothes off at a store or charity.  Are there any charities that do clothing collections I could contact?

Any info would be appreciated. "


Email from a lady in Surrey with an expensive which she no longer wanted.  She understood the feathers could be re-used.  She wanted to know how to get it cleaned professionally before donating it. (Dry cleaners had told her it needed specialist treatment.)


"Could you tell me if a charity called Helping Arms is a real charity or not, as I don't want to fill a bag if they are not for charity.  Thank you.

Tel: 0208xxxxxxx"   [=London, Dec 2009]


Public - concerned about deliveries of unwanted collection bags


Emails from people unhappy about receiving .

Some people have told us they'd put prominent notices on their front doors saying they didn't want junk mail, collection bags etc.  But clothing collectors ignored the notices - they continued to deliver collection bags.  Sometimes it turned out this was because the delivery person was from Eastern Europe and couldn't read English!

People were concerned about several issues :

'No charity bags' letterbox sticker (our thanks to www.webstickers.co.uk)

Example of an email (from Liverpool) :

"Is there any way of stopping people putting these bags through our door?  On average I get 4 per week through my door and I wonder how many old clothes they think that I have.  I am just sick and tired of getting these pushed through the door already this week.  I have had 4 through the door and have a bet with my husband to see if we get the full set.

Not a happy house holder, living in . . ."

Example (from North Lincolnshire) :

"We have made real efforts to avoid using plastic bags and now take our own bags when we go shopping. However, our efforts are being undermined by the number of charity collection bags being delivered to our house.  We get at least one a week and quite often two or three.  We don't use them as we take our unwanted clothing etc to our local charity shop.

Is there any way of stopping these bags being delivered, or is there anything we can do with the large number of unwanted bags that arrive?

I hope that you will be able to help."

More examples :

"Hi

Every week I receive at least two charity bags through my letterbox.  I believe in taking my clothes for recycling to charity shops.

However what I really want to know is what do I do with these unwanted bags?"

"Subject: Question regarding charity bags

Hello,

A Google search came up with your site, and I was just wondering what you views were on an issue I am currently perplexing myself with.

I was just wondering whether it is illegal, or just seen as bad taste, to use a charity bag as a bin liner.

I receive far too many of these bags through my letterbox.  Sometimes I can get 4 or 5 in a week.  I have no desire to use them for charitable purposes, and the occasions I have left the un-used ones outside the door for collection, they are not collected, leaving them littering my front garden.

One states that "the bag and contents are property of the charity", and that "any unauthorised persons seen taking them should be reported to the POLICE" (note the capital letters).  I've found that blacking out these sentences and then turning the bag inside out seems to make a good job of getting around this rather forceful aspiration.  If I decide to fill them with household rubbish and leave them out in my wheelie bin for the bin men (and/or women) to collect, that is my own decision to take.  These bags have, after all, landed inside my property without my consent.  They are effectively trespassing, and I should be able to do as I wish with them.

I look forward to hearing back from you, "

"Subject: Far too many charity bags       [2010]

I agree with the sentiments on your website about recycling unwanted clothes and textiles and I always take my second hand clothes to charity shops.  But what I hate is the excessive number of plastic charity bags I get through my door.

In the last 11 months I have received 55 bags - only 5 of which are biodegradable (and they take 2 years).  Two stated that they could be recycled but didn't state how.  Many stated that collectors would pick up empty bags, but I have tried this without success.

What about a campaign to use biodegradable bags or co-ordination of charities so that collections are made at most once a month rather than averaging more than one a week.

Everyone is now encouraged not to take plastic bags at the supermarket - so handing them out for free to people that don't even want them seems a retrograde step. "

"Subject: Wasted resources

Are you able to do anything to encourage charities to co-ordinate their delivery of charity collection bags?  We have received 3 today (in one day!) from genuine charities whom I would happily support.  However all my donations went out this morning in the bag that was delivered on Monday.  The three charities that delivered today have probably wasted their time and resources.  It is not only a waste but sends out the wrong messages about use of public donations.

Charities used to have to carry out collections (door-to-door money in envelope collections and collecting tins at supermarkets) in a week that was assigned to them to ensure everyone got a fair go - why does this not apply to charity bags?

I am fed up of receiving bags that I won't fill (the dodgy ones) or can't fill that just go straight in the bin.  It is getting as bad as junk mail, with no opt out option.

Yours

[name]

Cc The Charity Commission via their website "

"Subject: Help - I'm drowning in 'charity' bags!       [2011]

I found your website through Googling, in a moment of desperation after coming home last night to a further two charity bags through my letter box - that's three in two days and probably about 6 or 7 in the last couple of weeks.

I now have a considerable collection of them in my kitchen, from a variety of 'charities' (I know some of them are genuine but I have my suspicions about many).  I've roughly worked out that if I filled all that I currently have, I wouldn't actually have any movable possessions left in the house!

Is there anything I can do about this as I am really, really fed up of them.  As I work for the Government on waste strategy (I know, ironic isn't it!), my heart sinks every time I see yet another plastic bag appear on my door mat.

Personally, I prefer to take unwanted clothing etc to a local charity shop, partly because then I can choose which charity I donate to - but also because I have a deep distrust of the door-to-door method and where the stuff is actually going (as well as the added carbon footprint etc etc).

Other than sticking a large notice on my front door, is there anything else I can do?"

"Subject: How do I stop ...

... the incessant flow of these accursed things?  There's a clear, legible,
polite sign on the letterbox stating 'No more charity bags please' and we
still get a couple a week from gormless/illiterate individuals! Ooooh!
They're not filled due to thefts and I note that when the occasional
neighbour puts them out they aren't always collected on the appointed day.
We can't use them as bin liners/dust sheets/wrapping at a rate to match the
influx!  All that oil-based barely-recyclable polythene now goes into the
bin and landfill - grim.

It's about time the distribution of these environmentally hostile,
crime-ridden things was treated like those evil supermarket carrier bags or
even stopped.  When I want to donate to charity then I'll continue to take
it to a charity shop - these days there's plenty on any semi-derelict High
Street - which also shows I'm not anti-charity 'cos I'm not!

The above isn't a spleen vent but an attempt to reduce the wanton
distribution of these things."

We replied to the sender of the beautifully-written email above - and received a second email from him :

"First thing - THANK YOU FOR A REPLY!! - that's meant to shout and not to be
at all sarcastic as e-mails are often ignored.  Go on then - make it
anonymous then put the thing on your site.  The others make interesting
reading; I didn't think for a microsecond that I'd be the only one to be
irritated by the rate at which these things arrive and there's a few common
themes - no opt-out, 'no bags please' ignored, all that polythene etc etc.
Think I'll have to do a pictogram of a bag overlaid with a big red 'x' for
the non-English speakers in another effort to see off the bombardment of
these [expletive deleted] things.  With the general annoyance, crime and
expense I sincerely hope that we will see an end to them and sooner rather
than later!

I just know there'll be yet another one waiting for my return from work
later today..."


Public - miscellaneous


"Subject: Re. bogus collectors        [March 2010]

To all concerned

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/BOGUS-CHARITY/

Bogus Charity collectors are causing havoc for charities across the UK, in turn Rag merchants are losing raw materials.  The loss to charities is immense in pounds donated, and the loss in production for rag merchants means loss of jobs.  We need to stop Bogus Charity collectors, who are using only their company registration number where they should be displaying a charity registration number, fooling the public into giving them their donations.

If we reach 500 signatures before the petition closes, we will receive a response from the government.  Therefore please click on the above link and sign our petition.

Thank you for your support."

"Hello,

Just had to say well done on taking a stand.  I used to work in the charity sector and I get really cross at getting these bags through my door, knowing that they are misleading probably a good number of people.

Keep going! "


  Email from a lady whose mother had just died.  The lady intended to give many of her mother's possessions to charity :

". . . There is the option of giving some/all of the household goods to charity ([tax] Schedule IHT408 + IHT notes p26) and deducting the value of the donations from the amount on which inheritance tax must be paid.  This is totally distinct from any issue of leaving a legacy to a charity in a will.  . . .

My problem is putting a value on what we are giving.  I presume that the value should reflect the likely amount that the stuff can be sold for, less the overheads involved (not the same as the buyer's price).  

What I need is an average figure that I can reasonably use for the probate calculations.  I should guess that it is something that the charity shop fraternity have a good idea of.

It would be very useful to me and probably many others if you could publish this information.  Probably it would need to be by category of donation and would need to be a reasonable - not over optimistic - average figure or range of figures.  The American Salvation Army publishes a per item guide that relates to normal American taxes but I would like a per bag - or by weight - sort of figure(s).   . . . "

See the page on charity shops for typical prices of goods, together with details of shop overheads.


Missing necklace

"I am trying to trace the name of a charity who delivered their charity bag envelope to my house in .......... a couple of months ago.  I distinctly remember the small envelope was white and clearly stated that the charity wanted "good quality goods which could be sold in their shops".

To the best of my recollection the size of the envelope was approximately 5" x 5", similar in size to the Cystic Fibrosis envelope.  I also remember the large bag to contain the items seemed to be of a matt plastic instead of the usual shiny softer material.

I filled the bag with as many good quality items as I could find, including a small black handbag, and left the bag outside my door for collection.

I have recently discovered that I have mistakenly left a gold necklace inside the small black handbag which I donated.  Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of the charity and so am unable to get in touch with anyone who might be able to help in my search to recover the necklace.

As I am usually very careful about giving to bogus charities, I remember thinking at the time it was a good charity and so had no qualms about donating.  It also struck me at the time that I didn't usually receive such a small charity envelope.  The size of the envelope, the type of bag and the request for "good items to be sold at their shop" is all the information I can recollect.

On the off-chance that you might be able to come up with some useful information, I would be extremely grateful to hear from you.

Thank you for your help, "

Second email from this lady:

"Thank you so much for your e-mail.

I followed up on your really helpful suggestions but, unfortunately, the whereabouts of my necklace still remains a mystery.  I knew it was like looking for a needle in a haystack but I had to explore all avenues available.  I trudged around all the shops in town collecting charity bags but did not find any that resembled the small square one that was the recipient of my necklace.  I have no doubt that the mystery charity will be asking for more donations in the future and I will recognise their envelope, but in the meantime the only one that resembles it is the Cystic Fibrosis bag.

Fortunately, the necklace was not of sentimental value but was quite valuable.  I just hope some charity is enjoying the proceeds and helping someone in need.  I am now resigned to never seeing it again - c'est la vie!

Once again, very many thanks for your help. "


My Partner and I are interested in collecting for charity, and understand that you may be looking for self-employed drivers in our area.  We both have experience in collecting for other small charities and would like to start ASAP.  We have our own van and could cover any area that is allocated to us.


Email from a home-worker - wanting us to employ her to fold and pack bags (or do any other work).


Email from a home-worker - wanting us to employ her to "put the leaflets around the bags".


"Subject: Delivering and picking up bags

Hi there.  I was wondering how I can deliver charity bags and pick the bags up for a part-time job.  Can you email me or call me please.  My email is ............  My number is 077........  Many thanks ... "

"Dear Sir,

My name is [ ... ].  I'm from Lithuania.  I am writing to you in order to offer cooperation in folding and packing plastic bags for charity.  We have an experience for this job.

If you are interested in our offer of cooperation, please write to me what is the minimum amount of bags and at what is the time limits we should fold up, what are the delivery terms and what are the costs of folding and packing bags.

We look forward to your reply,

Sincerely,  "


CharityBags address (image)