Charity Contribution Solicitation Upon Submission of Report

I was just finishing submitting a restaurant report when a new page comes up that I hadn't seen before. It asked me if I wanted to donate $10 of my reimbursement to some charity. If I did, the MSC would match the contribution to the charity. I was a little shocked to see that. I am only getting paid for the amount of the restaurant check. I don't get 'paid' anything aside from that for the report.

I thought that it was in poor taste. We shoppers don't get paid much for reports usually so for them to ask that much seems quite high!

Am I overreacting? Has anybody else noticed this?

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No, you are not overreacting. If you are talking about A Closer Look, they have done this for years. I ignore the request, clicking "no thanks" and submit the report. I find it appallingly poor taste, and it surprises me because this is overall a class operation and a nice company to work with.

The first time I saw it, several years ago, the question was "would you like to donate a portion of your earnings?" $10 was suggested. WHAT earnings? My shop was reimbursement only and I had exceeded the maximum reimbursement. It annoyed me to the point that I did not shop with them for several months. I got over it, and I continue to shop for them but I decline to donate to their selected charities and I find the requests tacky and annoying.

I choose the recipients of my donations. I think it would be great if ACL wanted to match my chosen donations, but their choices are not my choices. And being asked for money before I can submit my report puts a bad taste in my mouth.....tasteless behavior from a usually-tasteful company.
If I recall correctly, MCS has also done a similar thing in the past. I just ignore.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
I too just click 'no thanks' and move on. There are charities I support through direct donations. In some cases it was because I didn't feel comfortable that the bucket being passed or the jar on the counter would make it to the organization, so it just has become a habit not to donate through third parties.
This has always bothered me A LOT. A couple times a year, A Closer Look picks a new charity and shows it on their main shopper page. You cannot submit a report without either accepting or declining to donate to their charity! It seems designed to pressure shoppers into donating. Who gets the tax deduction? Once their charity was even one of their employees who they were collecting money for! It's only on the Shopper page, so I guess they don't try to nick their clients for donations, just the shoppers.

As a new shopper, this demand from A Closer Look upset me very much the first time because I felt I was expected to donate. It's heavy-handed and demanding. I postponed submitting my report and called another shopper for advice. I ended up just submitting the report with no donation. I never donate to their charities and it makes me mad when that screen comes up. There isn't a comment box or I would tell them how offensive I think this is. Now I just ignore it. I have never contributed and never will. I'm curious how many new shoppers donate because they think they HAVE to, like I did. It must be a successful way for them to raise money or they wouldn't keep doing it, would they? I've always been surprised to never read any criticism of A Closer Look here on the forum for this, because I think doing this this is shocking.

Other fund raisers have been discussed here with a lot of criticism. Bestmark did a fundraiser in June 2013

[www.mysteryshopforum.com]

Bestmark wasn't even collecting from shoppers, they just promised to donate a nickel of THEIR MONEY for each completed shop to the Red Cross. Big criticism for Bestmark donating their own money but no criticism for A Closer Look repeatedly demanding donations from shoppers when they submit reports? I was okay with what Bestmark did. I'm NOT okay with what A Closer Look does.
Actually Jay C, the issue of their charitable fund raising that way has been brought up many times before. It is a long standing practice of theirs and I think we all find it repugnant. Since I know folks from ACL read/have read the forum, I'm sure they know how we feel about it as well.
Now I feel disrespected. I wasn't aware it had been discussed. I had no idea the staff at A Closer Look might have ever heard that some shoppers were disgusted by this demand for money for their charities. This is the first time I've seen anyone complain about it.

If the A Closer Look staff read the forum and know how repugnant shoppers consider their heavy-handed fundraising, but they continue to do it, then I am even more disappointed in them.
ACL probably takes their donation and yours and benefits by using YOUR donation as well as their's for a tax write-off. Then they probably turn around and will say something like Donated $20,000 to charity when it's really $10,000....
I have donated money this way so I gather I am in a minority based on the 8 or so replies above mine. For me I never thought it was disgusting. That may be due to the fact that at my regular job there is always someone asking for donations for their child's fundraiser or their church or somewhere every time I turn around. I find that really annoying as it is difficult to turn someone down that you know and is asking you in person. This was a step up from that so ...okay for me comparatively. I also get asked by charities I donate to to re donate after just a month or so. That is totally annoying to me, especially when I have sent a few dollars in the mail and then get postage laden requests monthly that cost them more than my original donation. I know they are hoping for bigger bucks but I do not want to see my entire $10 or $25 go to postage for pleas.
I did receive a donation receipt for the IRS when I said yes so I do not think they are claiming to the IRS that they donated all the money. They may however claim they raised $xxx. They in fact did.
And I have seen several msc ask for donations, not just ACL.
I also donated like sandy a few years ago. I didn't want to donate because I have my OWN favorite charities but I felt pressured as a new shopper and I thought I had to be one of the team and do it to get future shops. Kind of a kickback thing. Or like an employee - employees have to contribute when their co-workers pass the hat. It pissed me off and later, when I found out I was an idiot and others just clicked NO and didn't donate and still got shops, I felt kind of ripped off and wished I hadn't donated I've never donated again and I won't. I've always wondered if ACL does this deliberately to bully their shoppers and I have been tempted to e-mail them my feedback on it but I was afraid they would be offended by me being offended and just deactivate me. Do they honestly believe their shoppers WANT to donate part of their earnings when they didn't have any earnings, just reimbursement for money spent to perform the shop? Their fine dining shops are somewhat generous, but I usually take money out of my pocket to purchase the requirements of their casual dining shops. Do they think shoppers want to go in the hole to do shops for them and then spend more money donating to their charities?

I have seen other MSCs ask for donations, but the way ACL does it is particularly offensive. If there was just a request on their Home Page, I'd be okay with that. That would mean if I wanted to donate, I could make a decision to donate and it would be a separate transaction from any work I performed for them. But a screen that makes you either donate or decline before you can submit a report? Give me a friggin break. They are trying to bully shoppers into donating.

I'm curious to know how many other newbies get sucked in and contributed thinking it was expected to donate part of their "earnings" when they didn't have any earnings. The subject of this thread should be changed to A Closer Look so everybody knows who we are talking about. Before today, I've only seen a few comments on this ACL practice and I don't think any have been in threads specifically marked ACL. Maybe the company doesn't realize it has ever been discussed here. Maybe ACL thinks everybody loves it and admires them for it?
Wow. Of all the crappy ways ACL treats shoppers this is what pisses people off? lol
I actually don't have a problem with it at all.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
Glad to hear that I'm not the only one who was surprised by this.

I do donate to charity but I feel like I'm being bombarded sometimes. In addition to family and friends hitting everybody up for donations, I am also getting asked by grocery or retail clerks, too. At least there, they usually ask for $2 as compared with $10.
I have no problem clicking the no thank you button on ACL's website. The "would you like to round up your change" spiel is what is really driving me nuts.
My office actually had a policy, which states no one, from top to not on top,.may solicit. This includes school fundraisers, scouts and personal charities. Less awkward and no one feels pressured.
Many offices have such a policy and unfortunately, many times it is still ignored. I find it annoying to go to my doctor's office where the 'reading matter' out on the table is Mary Kay, Avon and such and often on the checkout counter are school fundraiser candies/chips. On bank shops I frequently will reduce the 'professionalism' of a site because of all the little fundraisers. One bank here seems to always have a card table out for folks to sign up for some walk or other--breast cancer, altzheimer's, new gym, etc.
I was annoyed by the begging for money when trying to submit my report, but I just clicked "no" and moved on. I get so many requests for contributions now, that at least one positive benefit has been that I don't feel pressured to contribute anymore when I get asked. If I gave money everytime someone asked, I'd literally have no money left, so I don't feel one bit of guilt in saying "no".

I agree with other posters: I have charities that I like to support. They are probably not the charities that the corporations I deal with would support. I won't ask them to support my charities, and I'd prefer they not ask me to support theirs. Maybe that's how we can fight back: each of us sends an email to ACL asking them to support our individual favorite charity.

Shopper in California's Bay Area
CaliGirl925 - great idea. Maybe I'll write now. I'd love it if they would donate to the political party of my choice.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but contributions to political parties are not charitable deductions. 501(c)(3) charitable groups are barred from campaigning for or against candidates for political office.
@charlene4047 wrote:

CaliGirl925 - great idea. Maybe I'll write now. I'd love it if they would donate to the political party of my choice.

Shopping Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware above the canal, and southwestern NJ since 2008
I have shopped for ACL for almost 15 years. I have never felt obligated to contribute ---sometimes I do, other times I don't. But I have always like companies' matching funds policies; I see that as team-building and showing what can be accomplished when people work together. In ACL's case if I contribut $10 from my $150!steakhouse reimbursement and they turn my $10 into $20 to help MS or pediatric research, how is that bad?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/19/2015 03:54AM by EileenS.
I have never been asked this by ACL.
A lot of charities will place material wherever they feel they have a captive audience. I know of a charity that puts material in a "questional" adult themed store. I know the person in finance at the charity, not the store! lol. I asked her why. She explained to me how difficult it is to get funds but apparenty there must be some guilt factor at these stores because they raise almost 10x as much as at other stores. She said the there had been discussion at the charity about the moral part and the decision had been not to judge others as long has no criminal activity was being committed. They decided that the benefit to all the children that they helped outweighed their distaste for the stores.
So my point is that some charities ways of obtaining money may be distasteful to us, however, provided it is a legitimate charity where the majority of the funds go towards helping those at need and we are given a choice to contribute or not contribute, the benefit to people may outweigh our distaste.
This is just something to think about, the other side of the story and may or may not reflect the beliefs of the poster. smiling smiley

LET ME BROADCAST THIS! Life is good. I did not say it was "perfect", but it is good. Perfect leaves me something more to strive for while enjoying where I am smiling smiley
@CureMS wrote:

So my point is that some charities ways of obtaining money may be distasteful to us, however, provided it is a legitimate charity where the majority of the funds go towards helping those at need and we are given a choice to contribute or not contribute, the benefit to people may outweigh our distaste.
This is just something to think about, the other side of the story and may or may not reflect the beliefs of the poster. smiling smiley

You make a good point, CureMS. However, it's not the charity whose way of obtaining money I find distasteful in this case. My nausea comes from the method that ACL uses to bulldoze its ICs. I would have no problem with ACL showcasing their favorite charity on their shopper homepage, which, over the years they have frequently done, along with the additional screen in the reporting process that requires a yes/no to the donation. If they showcased a charity and I chose to donate, I could do so in a separate transaction from the work I performed for them. I have no problem with ACL telling shoppers their favorite charity nor with their offer to match donations. ACL's screen in the submission of a report is my concern. That has absolutely nothing to do with the particular charity. As a newbie shopper, I felt pressured by this heavy-handed collection. I discussed it at the time with more experienced shoppers and learned they also found it distasteful but that it was okay to ignore it. I know several newbie shoppers who felt pressured and donated, only to feel bad about their donation.

I don't in any way blame the charities ACL is collecting for. The behavior I find tasteless is ACL's.
I recently submitted my first shop with ACL. I was a little caught off guard by the charity request, but just said no thanks and moved past it. There are many charities that, while legitimate charities, may not necessarily align with my beliefs and principles. So I do my own direct giving, either financially or with my time (e.g. local soup kitchen). However, I wasn't especially perturbed by the request.

I am often asked by the cashier at checkout counters to add a charitable donation. I find that practice more intrusive. For anyone who files their taxes electronically, they also ask if you would like to donate a portion of your refund to a list of charities, including specific political charities. That one annoys me more.
Based on my father's experience during WWII, I spontaneously sent a fifty dollar donation to the USO. I was deluged with a tsunami of snail mail soliciting more money. It was obvious that a considerable amount of my donation was being taken up by this annoying intrusion. I finally sent the last solicitation back in their postage paid envelope, with all the contents, and a letter telling them exactly how I felt. I never got another request from them, but I'm still steaming. I will never send them another penny.
I do have two other charities that I feel are deserving, to which I contribute, and I have never had either one of them send me begging mail. Some are classier than others.
I am quite aware that funding has been cut and the economy sucks, but I am as affected by the financial situation as they are, perhaps more so. Maybe they could do a few cutbacks of their own, or check the salaries of some of their executives?
Oiler, if you donate directly to a particular USO office rather than the head organization, including a note to NOT put you on their mailing list, your money will go directly to where it's needed. Or you can mail cash, money order, or a check without an address. I frequent the USOs when flying, and often spend the night there rather than paying a hotel bill (different USOs have different hours and policies). I leave money directly in the donation box for the saved hotel or for the food consumed.
MrEToomey:
Thanks for the info. I find, however, that poop rolls downhill from its source, So I still believe that the "upper crust" needs to look in the mirror and take note.
Since I already have my favorite charities I am going to stick with them.
On a slightly different note: I have found that YMCAs often have reasonable accommodations in various cities. This is not to take away from the USO, but some shoppers who travel and want to economize may check them out.
About fifteen years ago a friend's wife died. The request was 'in lieu of flowers' send a donation to the cancer unit at the local hospital. My check was clearly marked 'In Memory of __________'. This has gotten me on every mailing list from the hospital it would seem. I can't get off and I can't get them to stop mailing me their quarterly newsletters etc. Truly a waste of resources and postage. On a certain level I also feel it is very disrespectful to the deceased and her family's wishes.
Flash
Sometimes, if there is a return address on the outside envelope, one can mark the envelope : "Refused-Return to sender", If there is a return postage envelope I put everything they sent me in the envelope and send it back on their postage. It seems to somewhat stem the flow of snail spam.
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