Birth of a Chugger: Charity, Commission and Direct Marketing

Chugger: A paid charity worker that encourages targets to give their bank account details to aid their given cause. (ie: Charity + Mugger = Chugger)

The Summer has arrived in Sligo, and young adults will be calling around to your house and stopping you on the street while  fundraising for well known charity groups. This is why you shouldn’t give them the time of day, and why you shouldn’t give into their emotional blackmail and sales techniques.

Written by a bitter blogger who wasted his time going through the interview process for this job.

The Ad.

I, like many other students, have recently moved back to Sligo for the Summer holidays. If you are anything like myself, you have found yourself unemployed and on the hunt for work. I planned ahead while I was still living in Dublin, and searched through to find some Summer work.

Marketing job

Sounds exciting!

I submitted my CV left right and center for any job that was in the Sligo region. But the most promising one had the title “Team Leaders Required in Sligo” posted by Flawless Marketing.

I am a team leader, among the likes of Ernest Shackleton, George Patton and Wolverine, so why shouldn’t I apply for this position?

Plus, I have been working for a promo company in Dublin, handing out free samples and so on while in college, so it would suit me very well, since it was a marketing company. But I would later find out that ‘marketing’ meant ‘direct marketing’, and ‘direct marketing’ meant ‘being an annoying little shit’.

I threw in my CV and continued on with my day. Three weeks later I got a call from a strange Sligo based number. It was from said marking company, and I was short listed for an interview with them. I arranged a date and was told to dress smart, as I would expect.


The Interview

When I got to the office, it felt like I was joining a higher class of the work force. It wasn’t a hard feat, since my last interviewer casually dropped the word ‘cunt‘ twice during the interview. The lobby was classy looking, with magazines on table printed by the parent company, ‘Appco‘.

I casually glanced through the magazine and noticed testimonials from chirpy looking student types, boasting about how much money they made, and the amount of branches Appco is setting up throughout Ireland.

I was called in for the interview, and met by an enthusiastic woman who made the interview very comfortable and easy, asking me questions, while talking of all the opportunities to make loads of money from hard work. Not to mention the liberal use of the word ‘advancement’.

She also made sure to tell me that the average employee with them makes €300 – €500 a week going door to door selling products. WOW! How come I know so many people who are slaving away in shops, bars and restaurants when ads for jobs with this type of pay are popping up all over with “No experience required” in the title. It’s a dream come true!

But she did have to mention right in the middle of the interview that it would be 100% commission, which I’m sure she thought would give me the go-getter, team spirit attitude of an enterprising young go-getting go-getter!

But surely, if the average employee makes €300 – €500 a week, they must be selling something in high demand and of good use to the customer, like Eircom Phonewatch and Mormonism. But we would be selling something different.


The Chuggers

We would be given the task of ‘fund raising’. Our jobs would be to go door to door, and on the streets, to raise money for well known charities like World Wildlife Foundation among others.

Unlike the church gate collection, or bag-packing for the local GAA team, we cannot accept mere hard cash. They need you to set up a direct debit account.

The Syrian refugees need your CCV number

The Syrian refugees need your CCV number

I was still slightly tempted by the prospect of making so much money a week, as if she was trying to pitch the job to me, as opposed to me selling myself like an interview should. But I couldn’t see myself becoming what I’ve always hated. When I ran into these chuggers a while back, I thought that they were doing volunteer work for charity, and had no idea that there was a business to be made out of it, as if they are selling cutlery, or Jesus.

To me the street ‘fund raisers’, or charity muggers, have always just been an annoyance in Dublin that I would brush off after being stuck in a conversation with one of them. But after going through an interview where the interviewer tempted me with the promise of up to €500 a week, before mentioning that we’d be doing it for charity. This can only result in two types of people being screwed:

The Salesman: Desperate for work, he has to manipulate sympathetic people into setting up a direct debit account for a cause he doesn’t truly believe in for commission.

The Victim: Thinking that these people are volunteers who are passionate about their cause, and could potentially get suckered into giving their bank account details.


Best advice

If a chugger approaches you on the street, simply state that you are not interested. You will be wasting their time and your’s if you entertain them.

If a chugger calls to your door, tell him that you are not interested and to leave. Direct marketing is one of the lowest and sleaziest business models, just above Pyramid Schemes.

If a direct marketing job is offered to you on commission, there is a good chance you are going to get screwed over. And if you are a successful chugger, you are screwing other people over.

If you want to set up a direct debit account for a charity, do so without the pressure of some chirpy faced student. Their commission isn’t going to help young Kofi get an education.


7 comments on “Birth of a Chugger: Charity, Commission and Direct Marketing

  1. Richard Dixon says:

    Hi FinnLizzy – Richard from Concern here. You mention Concern in your blog and it worried me slightly. Did the person from Flawless Marketing mention working for Concern? If they did, I’m afraid they are mistaken. We don’t work – and (as far as I know) never have worked – with Flawless. No-one in Concern is paid commission and the only people who engage in regular giving fundraising are Concern staff members. It would be great if you could clear this up on the blog. Feel free to email me ( or phone (01 417 8029) if you wanted to chat further. Thanks – Richard

    • finnlizzy says:

      Blog updated. They didn’t tell us what charities they work for, but in their office they had all the logos of the companies they represented (Like Eircom Phonewatch and WWF).
      Although I’m against chuggers in general, in house chuggers are a step up from running it like a business.

      • Richard Dixon says:

        Thanks for clearing it up. Genuinely happy to talk through why we use direct recruitment – feel free to get in touch at any time. Richard.

  2. Ted says:

    Richard: Do you think any member of the general public repeatedly accosted by your staff cares what company you get your minions from? A dickhead in a bib dancing like a circus monkey and shouting at you from halfway down the street is an annoyance whether they are supplied by Flawless or recruited directly.

    I personally cancelled my (long-running) monthly DD to Concern several years ago because of the actions of your street hawkers. As long as you keep sending bands of obnoxious youths with plastic smiles out to hassle people on the streets of our cities, you’ll never see another penny from me. And I think you know by now that this sentiment is not rare among Irish city dwellers.

  3. sheinoz says:

    I’ve just had an interview for a direct marketing company… I don’t think I’ve ever felt so uncomfortable with the idea of a job! At one point, when discussing “ethics”, I said I would feel uncomfortable attempting to get someone to set up a direct debit is it were obvious to me that the person I was talking to was living in poverty. The interviewer deflected back to me for being “judgemental”, and said that even if it LOOKED like someone was poor, I shouldn’t judge them, and I should let them go ahead with the transaction…Asked to attend the next stage (2 days of interviews!)… I feel quite squeamish about the whole affair…

  4. John says:

    It is of course very easy to criticise people who do direct sales but at the same time ignore the fact that it’s surely preferable to people being unprepared to get off their collective a**es and do SOMETHING instead of relying on benefits.
    I don’t see television stations being castigated for accepting money from charities for advertisements (You weren’t being naive and assuming the air time was being given away for free were you?)
    Some charities prefer to employ direct sales people to personally convey the work that they do to the general public so that questions can be answered, feedback can be received and so that the public are given the opportunity to get involved in whatever way they wish.
    As for direct debits… well, who HASN’T at some stage thrown money into a bucket and wondered afterwards if any of it went to the charity / organisation in question. We all use direct debits to pay for services that we want – broadband, television services, electricity, gas etc.
    Charities usually need to be able to plan ahead and finding people willing to support them regularly is one way of doing this. A direct debit from a supporters charity, directly to the charity allows the charity to budget, and also allows the supporter of the charity to know without question that their money is actually being delivered.
    I for one am glad that you see what Flawless Marketing do as being different from the local church gates and indeed the GAA (both highly profitable BUSINESSES)
    Finally, YES I DO work for Flawless. I chose it in favour of selling SKY television. I figure that if I can spend my time making money for worthy charities, it is infinitely preferable for making even more money for Rupert Murdoch’s global empire.

  5. disgruntled from drumcliff says:

    This article is totally inaccurate, and I felt like I had to comment in order to clear things up. You’re leading people astray with your opinions. Wolverine was a member of the X-Men first and foremost, and although he did lead them at one point it was only temporary, until Storm returned. Storm, Cyclops and Professor-X are the only mutants who could realistically be called team leaders of the X-Men. Anything else is twisting the truth. Get your facts straight before you post a piece like this again.

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