Here in the UK, charity collections at supermarket checkouts have become popular.
The idea is simple: one or two volunteers, usually youngsters, stand at the checkout where the bag dispenser is located. Of course, all this does is ensure that the said supermarket’s attempts to reduce our reliance on plastic bags is wasted effort, but that’s another debate to be had elsewhere.
The volunteers ask if you would like a hand packing your shopping into either store-provided bags or your own bags if you remember to take them into the store with you. You then stand around looking like a lemon whilst children pack your bag on your behalf. The theory, and you are under no obligation I guess, is that you will then throw some cash into their collection bucket which is conveniently located at the till.
For those customer who pay by cash, this is probably an easy thing as they’re likely to have been given some change once the shopping has been paid for.
However, for those of us in the cashless society, I rarely have any change on my person. Indeed, I may well be a Scotsman, however that doesn’t make me mean and tight-fisted as my Countryman’s stereotype portrays. No sir, I like to chip in to the odd charity donation…
So my solution to this problem is simple. Most stores have a crib card for items that do not scan very well. This crib card contains bar codes for the problem products. I have suggested on more than one occasion, to both the stores and the leaders of the charity volunteers that there is a mechanism put in place for “scanning an extra £1” via a bar code. The extra £1 is added to the shopping bill. At the end of the day/week/whatever, the store issues the charity with the funds collected using the said bar code.
It’s win-win, the charity capture the cashless society, the supermarket are seen to be helping the charity.
Surely it’s simple? Why then, do I get a glazed look when I explain it to people?
Technorati Tags: charity, charity donations, supermarkets
It’ll come eventually because I’ve already seen it in action in North America. Especially during the holidays. Can’t remember which stores but some popular chains like Gap or Barnes & Noble ask you at the end if you’d like to add on whatever amount to your bill to give to charity.
I’ve seen an informal charity benefit along those lines here in Scotts Valley. The Safeway supermarket chain offers “frequent shopper” cards which you scan on each trip to the register. You automatically get whatever advertised discounts or store coupons are in effect for your purchases (in lieu of paper coupons). The store of course gets to track your spending habits and send targeted junk mail to your home address. As you rack up more purchase points, you qualify for further discounts on future purchases.
Some folks opt out of the whole spending habits tracking thing. What I found interesting was when a clerk asked for the shopper’s Safeway card and the shopper declined, the clerk scanned a Safeway card tied to the register. The shopper got the item discounts on their purchases, but the purchase points were credited to a local charity. The charity could use those points to get reduced prices on their future purchases.
Nifty idea, simple to implement. Naturally, it got shut down after several months. Clerks are no longer allowed to scan alternate cards to benefit third parties on behalf of a shopper.
Here in America (I live in Virginia), charity collections at supermarkets and other stores has become ridiculous. You are pretty much harangued everywhere you go. It’s not volunteers here though. Pitches for donations are made by cashiers and other store employees. I had an odd occurence yesterday which resulted in my writing about it on my Facebook page to see what my friends all around the U.S. had to say. I found out that it’s going on all across the nation.
Anyway, when I was at the grocery store in the self-checkout line yesterday, a store employee walked up to me and asked, “would you like to donate a dollar to the ….. charity?” I was in the self-checkout because they only had one of eight lanes open and that one was backed up beyond belief. The employee did not even say, “good afternoon” or “do you need any assistance?” It was just an immediate plea for cash. When I politely declined, the employee walked away. Probably to go find another customer to ask. If and when you visit the U.S., I’m afraid that you will find that anything remotely close to, “customer service” has all but disappeared here.
I have a sneaky suspicion that businesses here are getting a percentage of what they collect. Why else would corporations and stores (whose sole purpose is to generate profit) expend so much time and energy on soliciting for charities?
So, I’m in the middle of some web surfing to find out what others are saying about it. That’s how I found you. Thanks for your time and do take care.