Clampdown on misleading 'charity bag' collectors

Companies collecting second-hand clothes are banned from implying that they're charities

BGJ921 black bag of clothes for charity

There's to be a clamp-down on 'charity bag' companies that collect used clothing, shoes and bric-a-brac but mislead householders about where the cash will end up.

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), which writes the UK advertising rules, says that companies must be upfront with people about just how they actually operate.

They must make it clear that they are commercial enterprises, and that any donations consumers make won't go directly to a charity, with goods being sold and a proportion of the profits being given instead.

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The move follows an Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling last year which found a company's charity collection bag was misleading.

There was no mention of the advertiser's name or company status on the front of the bag - but the charity name and number were given prominence on the back.

The bags, distributed by Recycle Proline, were headed 'Cancer Research & Genetics UK' on both sides and also included a charity registration number. Only in small print did the firm explain that it was a commercial company.

"No-one should feel duped into thinking they are donating directly to a charity if that's not the case," says director of the committees Shahriar Coupal.

"Appeals to consumers' generosity can benefit a range of good causes but it's only fair that these companies are truthful and transparent about the commercial nature of the service they provide."

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Companies are now being given two months to bring their collection bags into line. While it's fine to show the name and logo of the charity which will benefit from donations, it must be obvious that there's a commercial nature to the collection too.

The company name must be at least as prominent as the charity, on both sides of the bag.

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What the new ruling doesn't cover is complete crooks.

"CAP is aware of concerns about charity bags left on people's doorsteps by fly-by-night or bogus operators who masquerade as charities but who are, in fact, engaged in criminal activity," it says.

"These operators are best tackled by law enforcement bodies and any consumers with concerns about the legitimacy of a collection service should check with their local council or donate directly to an official charity."

Victims of scams and fraud

Victims of scams and fraud