Chugger warning is Letter of the Day

Who is that devilishly handsome fellow? I had the honor of having my letter selected as Letter of the Day in today’s The Gazette which requires a photo; I’m not very photogenic. The original version of the letter is below, I understand that it had to be edited, in fact almost halved, but did they also have to add a bit of male pattern baldness and a touch of a double chin to the picture? (Just kidding)


Here’s the original, longer version.

With the holiday shopping season hitting full stride, the question of whether the downtown core or the less central shopping centres offer consumers the best opportunities arises. Usually it comes down to available parking at malls versus greater variety downtown. As the stores in the city’s centre try to combat the malls’ attempt to lure shoppers to the suburbs, they might want to consider dealing with the chugger situation that exists and is bound to grow.

I imagine many people have been approached by chuggers at one time or another. Chugger is the term used to describe those street corner fundraisers who essentially accost prospective donors. The term is a combination of the words “charity” and “mugger” and it is a very apt description. What these people do, allegedly on behalf of various charitable organizations, is try to get you to stop, in a very aggressive manner so they can tell you their story. Some will even call out to you as though you have dropped something just to engage you in conversation. They don’t take no for an answer, and will sometimes walk along beside you chatting for some distance even after you have repeatedly told them you are not interested. This can be very annoying.

They usually wear some sort of identifying vest and they may wave a clipboard in your face in an attempt to convince you they are genuine. Imagine the worst kind of hyper-aggressive salesperson and you have an idea of their style.

In Britain the problem of chugging was so bad, with many shoppers having to cross the street to avoid being harassed, that new laws were enacted last summer. These regulations ban chuggers from standing in store doorways, crosswalks (i.e. corners, a favorite among Montreal chuggers), bank machines and bus stops.

My own experience was typical; on several consecutive days last summer, as I sat reading during my lunch hour, I was approached by a pleasant but determined young woman who, apparently, was soliciting funds for a charity that saved animals from puppy mills and the like. A very noble cause for sure. After a few days of explaining I wasn’t interested I finally thought “What the hell” and said I’d have a listen.

The woman was articulate, well-spoken and friendly; she knew her pitch, quoting several recent heinous animal cruelty news items. Once finished she asked if I had any questions; I didn’t. She then asked if I would like to donate and I suggested she send me some information by email and I would consider it. She said she couldn’t do that, giving me pause. What she wanted, believe it or not, was my banking information so “we can set up monthly donations” which would be much simpler for me.

Was she for real? Did she really think I would give my banking information to an absolute stranger on the street corner?

There is no shortage of legitimate charities that need our money to carry out their good works. I’m not Scrooge; I’m all in favour of charity, and I understand they have to ask or they won’t get. However the downtown merchants association should keep an eye out for overly aggressive chuggers who make the shopping experience less enjoyable.

Best regards,

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

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