Don’t let clothes collectors pull the wool over your eyes

PUBLISHED: 15:49 24 October 2006 | UPDATED: 11:03 06 May 2010

n Make sure your unwanted clothes go to relieve hardship by giving them to a recognised charity like Oxfam – not help to swell the profits of unscrupulous businesses

n Make sure your unwanted clothes go to relieve hardship by giving them to a recognised charity like Oxfam – not help to swell the profits of unscrupulous businesses

A COUPLE of weeks ago, I received an email from a reader who was angry and concerned about doorstep clothing collections which are not from charities. Apparently she d had a bag through her door from one such company, asking for old clothes and telling he

A COUPLE of weeks ago, I received an email from a reader who was angry and concerned about doorstep clothing collections which are not from charities.

Apparently she'd had a bag through her door from one such company, asking for old clothes and telling her that if she made a donation, 'God would reward her for her good heart'.

This canny lady did a quick search on the internet and discovered some interesting information about these types of bags.

While it remains unclear whether or not the company she had received a bag from was legitimate, what she found was that a newspaper in Huddersfield had carried out a 'sting' on a similar type of organisation.

They used a tracking device to find out where the clothes - allegedly collected to help people in the 'Third World' - ended up, and found out they were being sold in eastern Europe.

The clothes were not going to developing countries and there was no evidence that any money was making its way anywhere near them either.

I tried my best to do a bit of investigation into the company our reader was concerned about but it seems that trading standards had not been deluged with calls about it, and could only really offer general advice about giving to charities.

Also, the company in question did actually include a company number rather than a charity one, so even though I feel a bit dubious about it, it has probably done very little wrong in the eyes of the law.

Still, I think it is important to be very wary about where your donations are going.

Just last weekend I received a leaflet at home asking for clothes and toiletries.

This time the company concerned made no bones about the fact that the items collected were going to eastern Europe, claiming people out there would be provided with "affordable clothes".

Still, the badly-written leaflet, the fact that I've never heard of the company and the general vagueness of the whole thing stopped me putting anything out for collection, even though I have got a bag of stuff ready to be donated somewhere.

I guess the temptation is, if you have got things you would like to get rid of, or even if you are just kind-hearted and want to help, to put out a bag no matter who is asking.

But the sad fact is, as the Huddersfield paper found out, there are people out there making money from our generosity.

I personally would never make a donation unless it was to a recognised charity that I had heard of.

Hertfordshire Trading Standards said their best advice is if in doubt, don't give, and I think that is eminently sensible.

Save up your unwanted goods for the genuine, well-known organisations (who publish their charity number) or pop them down to your local charity shop.


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