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Age UK and The National Door To Door Company: September 2020

Name and type of organisation/s: Age UK (registered charity no. 1128267) and its agency The National Door To Door Company (D2DC)

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? 

  • Age UK: Yes
  • D2DC: Yes

The complaint

The complainant said that The National Door To Door Company (D2DC – the agency) continued to deliver charity bags to them on behalf of Age UK (the charity), despite having a sign on their door which states ‘addressed mail only’ and their address being recorded on the agency’s ‘do not call’ list.

What happened?

The complainant contacted the charity in October 2017 because they had received a charity bag despite having a clear sign stating ’addressed mail only’ on their door. The charity added the complainant’s address to its ‘no call list’ in response to the complaint.

In September 2018 the complainant received a further charity bag. The charity apologised and told the complainant that their entire postcode had been removed from its distribution route. This charity bag was delivered to the complainant as the distributor overlooked instructions not to.

In November 2018 another charity bag was delivered to the complainant’s address. The agency apologised to the complainant and confirmed that it had removed their whole street from its distribution list.

In October 2019 the complainant contacted the charity as they had received a fourth charity bag. The charity said that it would take their address off its distribution list and reiterate to distribution staff that the complainant did not wish to receive charity bags. The complainant replied to the charity and said that they did not want a templated response, but wanted the charity to act on what it said it would do.

The charity said that a charity bag was delivered as the result of a different distributor working in the area. The new distributor failed to recognise the importance of not delivering to the complainant’s address and overlooked specific ‘do not call’ instructions on the route. As a result of this final complaint, the agency removed their entire housing estate from its distribution list.

Our decision

We found that in continuing to deliver charity bags to the complainant, the agency breached the requirements of the code not to deliver to households with a ‘no charity bag’ sign or words that indicated that the householder does not wish to donate by this method. We also found that in continuing to deliver to an address that had been marked as restricted, the charity engaged in unreasonably persistent fundraising.

By removing the complainant’s entire housing estate from its distribution route, we found that the agency demonstrated learning from the complaint and had put in measures to mitigate further errors on behalf of its distributors. On this basis, we do not consider that the agency breached the code in relation to learning from complaints.

We found that the charity failed to respond to the concerns raised appropriately, as it issued the complainant with four similar responses, none of which acknowledged the failings in its process.

We found that the charity breached the code on monitoring third parties by not taking all reasonable steps to ensure its agency’s ongoing compliance with the code, nor had it demonstrated sufficient learning from complaints.

Recommendations

We recommended that the agency:

  • review its system for identifying and communicating restricted addresses to its distribution staff to identify whether the risk of human error can be reduced.
  • review its training relating to avoiding households with ‘no charity bags’ signs and those similar to the complainant’s sign.

We recommended that the charity:

  • update its contract with D2DC to ensure that the contractual arrangements provide specifically for adherence to the code.
  • review its quality monitoring measures and consider what changes it needs to make to improve this. As part of this work, we recommended that the charity pay particular attention to the agency’s practice around restricted addresses and properties that display a sign that would suggest a charity bag would be unwelcome, along with complaints about these issues.
  • review how it records and reviews complaints in order to improve its complaints handling, including the way it evidences learning from complaints.

Outcome

The charity and agency accepted our recommendations. We asked that the agency and the charity each write to us within two months of our final decision to outline the action taken in response to our findings and recommendations.