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Against Breast Cancer and Recycling Clothes Company Ltd: December 2019

Name and type of organisation/s: Against Breast Cancer (registered charity no. 1121258) a health charity, and its agency Recycling Clothes Company Ltd

Fundraising method: Charity bags

Code themes examined: The delivery of a charity bag to a ‘restricted address,’ complaint handling, learning from complaints and the charity’s monitoring of third parties

Code breach?

  • Against Breast Cancer: Yes
  • Recycling Clothes Company Ltd: Yes

The complaint

The complainant said that Recycling Clothes Company Ltd (RCC – the agency) continued to deliver charity bags to them on behalf of Against Breast Cancer (the charity), even though their address was on the agency’s ’restricted list.’

What happened?

The complainant told the charity and agency that they did not wish to receive charity bags. They received the charity’s assurance that their address had been put on the agency’s ‘restricted list’ to stop further charity bag deliveries. The complainant contacted the charity again when the agency delivered another charity bag five months later. In both complaints, the complainant also raised environmental concerns regarding the charity’s use of plastic.

The agency spoke with the distributor and found that the delivery was caused by the distributor’s human error. The agency concluded that the area manager and driver were also responsible because they did not enforce training to stop the distributor delivering a bag to restricted addresses.

The agency suppressed the complainant’s whole street after the second unwanted delivery. This was to lower the risk of another unwanted charity bag being delivered in error. The agency also issued a fine to the driver, provided further training to the distributor and said that its managing director is now monitoring the team that covers the complainant’s area. The agency also told us that it was reviewing options to encourage distributor teams to be more aware of the importance of observing the ‘restricted address’ list.

Our decision

By delivering a further charity bag to the complainant against their wishes, the agency breached the requirements of the Code of Fundraising Practice (the code) to fundraise in a way that was respectful. We said this meant that the agency engaged in fundraising that was unreasonably persistent.

We could see that the agency quickly investigated the matter and reviewed the learning from the complaint. Therefore, we found that the agency had not breached the code in relation to complaint handling and acting on the learning from complaints.   We found that the charity dealt with some aspects of the complaint well and responded quickly to both complaints, and the tone of its communication was respectful. However, we found that the charity did not respond appropriately to the complainant’s second complaint. The charity did not refer to the complainant’s environmental concerns regarding the charity’s use of plastic when it was clear that this was their primary concern. The charity also did not inform the complainant that their whole street had been placed on the agency’s ‘restricted list.’ Finally, the charity did not respond to the complainant’s final email. We therefore found that the charity had breached the section of the code in relation to complaint handling.

We found that the charity was taking all reasonable steps to ensure the agency’s on going compliance with the code. For this reason, we found that the charity had not breached the area of the code in relation to third-party monitoring.

Recommendations

The charity and agency are discussing a number of ways to improve the performance of the agency’s staff to minimise breaches to the code.

We recommended that the agency:

  • considers what further steps it may need to take regarding the risk of charity bags being delivered to households on the charity’s ‘restricted address’ list because of human error.

We recommended that the charity:

  • considers what further steps it may need to take regarding the risk of charity bags being delivered to households on the charity’s ‘restricted address’ list because of human error;
  • reviews how it monitors the action that the agency takes in response to complaints regarding deliveries to ’restricted addresses’ to make sure that it is taking all appropriate steps to prevent charity bag deliveries to those who do not wish to receive them; and
  • reviews how it handles this complaint to improve its complaint handling.

Outcome

We ask that the charity and agency write to us within two months of our final decision to outline the actions they have taken in response to our findings and recommendations.