back to article Everything Everywhere accused of lining pockets with charity cash

Everything Everywhere has been taking 10 percent of charitable text messages, excepting its selected charities, on the flimsy excuse of having to cover its processing costs. The problem is that it seems the other network operators are more generous with their cut, passing on the entire payment, so the operator is being forced to …

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Anonymous Coward

Two hands in the till.

There seems to be a double charge, then. I've just checked my T-Mobile bill for March, which included a text donation to Comic Relief via text. T-Mobile evidently classifies the Comic Relief number as a premium service and thus depsite the fact that I had 578 unused texts they charged me 10p for the donation.

Which means for any charity donation, T-Mobile charges the donor, and EE charges the charity.

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Flame

Err, I think you misunderstand

The meaning of "donation" is that you take some of your money and give it to someone else. In this case, you chose to give 10p of your money to Comic Relief. So OF COURSE THAT 10P IS GOING TO APPEAR ON YOUR PHONE BILL, YOU MUPPET.

The 578 "unused texts" are irrelevant. You're not using the text message to communicate, you're just using it as a convenient way to move money.

A text message costs the operator almost nothing - they already paid to build the network, they don't have to pay anything else to send a 200 byte text message over it. (If it goes to a phone on another operator then they might have to pay some tiny fee, but it's a LOT less than 10p). So there's no way T-Mobile will allow you to use your 500 inclusive texts to "donate" £50 of T-Mobile's money to Comic Relief - especially when that contract is only £20 a month.

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I think...

...what the original poster is trying to say is that he/she fully expected to be charged the £1 (or whatever it was - I don't remember now) for the actual donation. What they didn't expect was for T-Mobile to add another 10p to the bill. The net result is that the punter gets charged £1.10 but CR only get £1 of that.

I don't think he OP was suggesting T-Mobile should be funding CR and I can't understand why you would jump to that rather odd conclusion.

I remember wondering the other week how the mobile operators would handle the Comic Relief donations by text. Of course, they should either have waved the charge entirely or added the charge to the actual donation.

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Anonymous Coward

Muppet feedback loop

"In this case, you chose to give 10p of your money to Comic Relief. So OF COURSE THAT 10P IS GOING TO APPEAR ON YOUR PHONE BILL, YOU MUPPET."

No. In this particular case I chose to give £5 of my money to Comic Relief, and T-Mobile charged me an additional 10p for doing so. My apologies for assuming that was obvious.

Thanks for the primer in basic economics and the telco business, though. Insightful stuff - I guess you must be an industry insider?

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Anonymous Coward

Obvious

"My apologies for assuming that was obvious"

What was obvious was the fact that it clearly said that texts would be charged at the standard message rate.

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Megaphone

What about PayPal etc?

If we're (quite rightly) going to have a go at EE, can we include the Credit/Debit card processors like PayPal who take a cut on donations they process for charities?

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Anonymous Coward

Paypal....

...give a reduced processing fee for charities & Non profits.

Stu...

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Paypal...

... are notorious for having frozen the accounts of several charities because "the large number of incoming transactions was suspicious". In at least one case, the money was not released without legal action even though they admitted it was charitable donations.

I would go up my wrists with a razor blade before I allowed PayScum to hold one penny of my money.

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Gates Horns

Suprise suprise

Big corporations in ripping us off shocker...

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Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

Rule 144: There's nothing wrong with charity ... as long as it winds up in your pocket.

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If it was one or two...

...charities, then they would have a point and perhaps there is some better way they can cover these costs (make a 10% donation themselves and write if off against tax or something) but a company cannot be expected to support every possible charity at zero cost out of the goodness of its own heart. Because is doesn't have one.

You can be sure that Virgin et a have calculated to the nearest penny how much free PR this is giving them, and they probably account for that as covering their costs.

The sheer number of charities that are going around these days is ridiculous. So I can completely see why a company may wish to covers their costs. Personally I am sick to the back teeth with all the chuggers (you know, the people paid to mug you - where's the outcry about that?), charities cold-calling (engaging in emotional blackmail) and the various collection bags shoved through my door. I just bin their crap or close the door in their face.

Might make me seem like a cold, heartless bastard (maybe I am) but the constant pleading/begging is putting me off and I am giving less because I am so tired of it all.

Let the down-voting commence.

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Virgin on the . . .

Virgin charge charities and donors - jusr about anything with the 'V' mark on it is a bit of a fraud - just like the supposed 'green' Branson.

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Anonymous Coward

... the various collection bags shoved through my door

Often the charities listed on the bags through the door know nothing about it. It is companies who runs these schemes (although they can almost class as scams), and give a minor donation to the charity. Use these bags to collect the clothes and then deliver them to you high street charity shop who will get a better return on it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If it was one or two...

> perhaps there is some better way they can cover these costs (make a 10% donation themselves and write if off against tax or something)

Corporate GiftAid allows donations to be made before tax. Which isn't exactly the same thing, but helps.

> a company cannot be expected to support every possible charity at zero cost out of the goodness of its own heart. Because is doesn't have one.

I guess there are two points here:

One, I guess there is a suspicion that their true costs are a lot less than they are claiming, and possibly, since charity processing is a small percentage of what they do, a marginal activity where the extra resources they need to support it are effectively nil.

Secondly, whilst corporates don't 'have a heart' as their 'fiduciary duty' to their shareholders tends towards prioritising short term shareholder value, there is an established 'Corporate Social Responsibility' aspect to most companies. Arguably there's a role for Government in facilitating more of this, to emphasise the need for a company to also take into account the needs of all their stakeholders - not just shareholders, but their customers too.

> The sheer number of charities that are going around these days is ridiculous.

It is, and a company should not have to have the burden of deciding which ones are legitimate and worthy of its support. That's the job of the Charities Commission, which arguably has become overly politicised, and is no-longer fit for purpose.

> Personally I am sick to the back teeth with all the chuggers

Actually, most charities don't like them much either, not only do they give the sector a bad name, but they are a tremendously inefficient way of raising money.

Personally I prefer to donate via platforms like JustGiving or Kiva, where you can see a range of worthy causes and make a choice of where to help out. But I object to middlemen making a profit out of such donations - whether that be EE or PayPal. Cover costs, yes, if you must, but don't set those fees at levels that make me wonder whether your costs are really that high.

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far too many charities

it seems to me there are simply far too many charities, many doing much the same thing. I'm sure some consolidation would improve efficiencies and make policing easier or even possible.

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Anonymous Coward

Too Many Charities

"it seems to me there are simply far too many charities, many doing much the same thing. I'm sure some consolidation would improve efficiencies and make policing easier or even possible."

Couldn't agree more. Charities seem to get set up at the drop of a hat and so many of them are collecting for the same thing. Obviously there's no problem with things like hospices being given charitable status even though they are doing the same thing, they are each individual hospices. However I know of two charities in my home town that are collecting for victims of the same disease. When the second charity applied for charitable status the charities comission should have pointed them in the direction of the first and told them to go and volunteer there.

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Anonymous Coward

well..

@BigYin - Not all 'chuggers' are paid, I've collected for charities for free, it's not uncommon. For every person shouting at you for making them feel bad about themselves you'd get someone else thanking you because the charity you were supporting had saved their child's life. The only rational argument I've heard against charity collections was from a guy who gave me £20 but also told me he was angry that the government didn't do more to support good causes, instead leaving it to charities. Would you rather have higher taxes?

Back on topic, I can see why they'd want to cover costs (and as others have pointed out many others who process charity donations do something similar) but 10% seems a trifle steep.

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I deal with chuggers...

...by wasting as much of their time as I can while more gullible people walk past.

I would no more give them my cash without a struggle than I would any other person demanding money in the street.

I do however support a number of small local charities that I know use the cash wisely instead of spunking it away on advertising budget.

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@AC

I used to be an unpaid volunteer myself (did a variety of collections in uniform too) to I am probably being somewhat hypocritical, but I never stopped people and never called out/shook the tin. I just stood there looking needy.

I'd rather have more efficient governance than higher taxes (i.e. no more PFI/PPP crap). Tighten our belts, mend and make do. But then I am a dreamer.

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Stop

Hold on...

Which charities are we talking about here? Plenty of the national charities provide paid-for commercial services, have paid employees, organise marketing campaigns, sponsor entertainment events, lobby the government for favourable laws and in pretty much every way act like corporations. Except with the special tax status because they bung a few quid at some sociologists or some unlucky sod - and only a small percentage of their total turnover too. Why shouldn't they pay?

Try looking at a charity's published accounts sometimes - their spending is all wrapped up as 'programmes' where they hide how much they don't spend on actual people by bunging it together with all their admin and advertising costs. They look like they're spending a ton but are pretty cagey about how much actually makes it to the front lines.

If you want to help real people, try volunteering at a local level - don't only give cash to JAF corporate entity.

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Anonymous Coward

@sublit

Completely agree.

I have friends who work for charities, and their wages are roughly double mine for doing the 'same' job.

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Megaphone

I work in a charity...

and have been trying to get an SMS donation service set up for a few months now.

I too riled against the charges, I first looked into this in 2007 and the charges were nearly 40% of the donation from some providers! Now they can still be pretty steep - txtlocal are the company we're trying to get set up with at the moment and the fee's from the companies that they pass along have all been pretty high, check them out for yourself here:

http://www.txtlocal.co.uk/charities/

It's good to see the gov getting involved and even better to see EE getting slated, but it's not the only bad one by a long way. Vodafone are the only company that get my vote as they give 100% of the donation to the charity. Bravo voda!

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Why:

"Vodafone are the only company that get my vote as they give 100% of the donation to the charity. "

I guess that's because Vodafone are a charity, or at least seem to be from their tax status.

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Anonymous Coward

Why discount at all?

They should actually be charging charities the full whack.

Just have a look at most charities' financial statements. The portion of spending outside

of actual charitable work is ridiculous, even more than 50%. A fundraiser job, who let's be honest needs no more skills than a car salesman, usually nets at least 30k a year. It's the volunteers who are getting conned.

These are commercial companies like any other just wear a sheep's skin, don't have to actually turn profits and no one minds if their "product" is flawed. Thats why there's so many of them.

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HMB

Chuggers

Charity Muggers. People who ask you the time on a dark night, only to pull knife on you and say "Give to the NSPCC or I'll kill you".

Never seen that.

Charrassers (charity harassers), sure.

If a company squanders it's money it goes bankrupt. If a charity squanders it's money it becomes less effective at helping those it set out to help and how do we know if that happens?

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ineffective charities commission

I seem to recall BBC R4's Moneybox interviewing the Charities Commission, and it basically showed that the CC were hopelessly overloaded and unable to look at anything but the larger fraud and irregularity cases.

I would like to see a system of efficiency ratings, just like for domestic appliances, whereby the cost of the charity could be measured against the actual work it does. This is quite tricky since it can be quite hard to differentiate between costs, investments and whether someone is a "front line worker" or overhead.

At the end of the day we have to hope that our charitable giving has a worthwhile effect and doesn't just fund the lifestyles of the directors.

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Re: ineffective charities commission

> I would like to see a system of efficiency ratings

A lot of work has been done on this: read up on IRIS and GIIRS.

http://iris.thegiin.org/

http://www.giirs.org/

The challenge is to get these metrics more widely used and known. One quick way to achieve this would be if the Charity Commission were to mandate their use. But that would be too sensible for them. Sigh.

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Anonymous Coward

Charity ....

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/articles/tracing-the-marathons-millions-producer-feature

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Coat

Obligatory jab at Apple

Meanwhile, Apple still charges 30% for charityware sold through the Apple App Store...

Don't shove, I was leaving anyway

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Alert

Give money direct!

If you can, support charities by giving money directly to them. Now I'm not sure how awful the situation is in Britain with regard to bank charges, but as we slide gradually into the second decade of the 21st century, it would not seem inconceivable that direct cash transfers might be possible without paying for the bank manager's next bonus.

In other countries, the same dilemma exists: should charities raise money via text messages and collection organisations where people can skim off a significant amount, or should they rely on people bothering to find the details and give direct? When some organisations (often associated with dodgy non-charities) have been shown to skim off 75% or more, and given that we're in the Internet era where you can easily go to a Web site and get the necessary details, there's not really any excuse in not doing the right thing instead of, say, tediously hanging around filling out forms on the street or handing over your details laboriously over the phone to the underling of some freeloading, pilfering bastard.

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