Monday, 1 June 2009

Appearances can be deceptive

I've just had an plastic envelope through my door asking for donations of unwanted clothes. This isn't a rare occurance here in the UK. Many charities do this, asking for either clothes or bric-a-brac for their cause. The Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children is one.

To all intents and purposes, this looks like another charity appeal, but if you read closer you find that in fact it is anything but.

The artwork is similar to that used by Great Ormond Street, and the initial reading seems to imply that clothes that are donated will be taken to Third World countries for the benefit of the people there. But then the hidden message starts to come through.

This is a Company, and as such is there to make a profit. It is registered at Companies House as one that deals in second-hand clothing. Therefore it will be selling all that is given to them. The first sentence does hint at this ... "provide people in third world countries with clothes they can afford." (emphasis mine)

There are also several dire spelling mistakes: "really" instead of "rely", and "shemes" instead of "schemes".

Whilst this may not be a scam, the design of the envelope is such that it could well mislead people into thinking this is a charity appeal instead of a profit-making company. The use of the phrase "donation" in the first paragraph also implies this is a charitable work.

Note also that their proper name is as on the e-mail, shc collections, and not as in the first line of the main text, "SHS Collection".

Waveney Trading Standards are already aware of this and similar scams and have posted information on their website.


  1. I bin those envelopes anyway, since even the reputable charities don't ever bother to collect the sacks on the appointed day and I'm left having to drag the by now rain sodden things into my boot to drive them to a charity shop.

    I always make sure it's not the charity named on the bag.

  2. When that happened round here to a couple of collections for Great Ormond Street I got in touch with the fund-raising dept at the hospital and told them. They were very pleased to know and said that they would not use those particular distributors/collectors again. Since then it's been okay.

  3. What a good tip, I never thought of that! Thanks!

  4. It's a case of talking to the organ brinder and not the monkey. I find I'm doing this more often as I get older. No wonder I was given a "Grumpy Old Man" T-shirt by a parishioner!

  5. What's an organ brinder?

    At Ebenezer Aid Fund we're happy to take good secondhand clothing which we distribute to the needy Jews in eastern Europe.

  6. Thanks, RJ - I know there are many and various charities that do good work in the area of second-hand clothing.

    And as for the "organ brinder", I'm sure I could come up with an explanation if I worked at it, but perhaps I'll just admit to finger-slippage again!