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Article in local newspaper, 2004:
Collection by Kosta Ltd / "H.K.L Charity"

Headings on this page :

1. Photograph of the flyer leaflet included in the article (enlarged by us)

Clothing collection leaflet (flyer) - Kosta Ltd

2. Copy of the article

Donating to charity?
Are you certain?

'Be cautious' is
council's advice

[01]    PEOPLE are being warned that when they give their old clothes and shoes to charity their donations might not be reaching a good cause.

[02]    Alert residents in [place] contacted the [paper] after they received plain blue and white leaflets from a company called Kosta Ltd through their doors requesting donations of clothing, footwear and household linen.

[03]    It asked householders to put the items in plastic bags, attach the leaflet and leave the bag outside for collection on a set day.

[04]    The [paper] attempted to call the UK mobile number stated on Kosta Ltd's leaflet but it was continuously switched off.

[05]    An international number also on the leaflet led us to a lady in Lithuania who did not speak any English.

[06]    "We always ask people to err on the side of caution," said council spokesman [name].

[07]    "We advise people to donate items to a known charity and to be aware of unsolicited mail and handouts."

[08]    The leaflet does not say that Kosta Ltd is trading as a charity but does state that they support a charity called "H.K.L Charity".

[09]    The [paper] attempted to locate this charity but we were unable to find any information about them.

[10]    There has been a recent spate of leaflet drops in [this area] from a variety of companies who collect donated clothes.

[11]    Many sell them on to people in Eastern Europe and the Baltic states.

[12]    A spokesman for the British Heart Foundation charity shop in [place] said: "Always check for charity numbers on leaflets and ask to see the identification of people collecting money in public places before you put your donations in the collection box.

[13]    "The British Heart Foundation leaflets and bags also have telephone numbers on them which you can call at any time for further information and our drivers always carry ID with them."

[14]    Kosta Ltd started its life in London and after leaflet drops in areas such as Walthamstow, it targeted areas of [another place] in March - despite being dissolved as a company in November last year.

[15]    In March 2003 Lewisham Trading Standards department upheld complaints from people who said they felt the leaflet implied the company was trading as a charity.

3. Comments by CharityBags on the article reproduced above

Note - The copy above is the same as originally published except for the following :

See similar newspaper articles and press releases on our site relating to other bogus collections.

Location - The place referred to in the article is part of a district in an English shire county.  It's a unitary authority.

Organisations mentioned :

Organisations not mentioned include :

The sequence of events described in the article :

  1. "Kosta Ltd" delivered the leaflets to households.
  2. Local residents became suspicious of the leaflets.
  3. They contacted the newspaper.  (Was this before or after the collections took place?)
  4. The newspaper investigated, contacting :
    • the collectors (Kosta Ltd) on their UK mobile number (no reply)
    • the associated "charity" (H.K.L Charity) - on an international phone number (Lithuania) - abortive
    • the local council
    • the local British Heart Foundation charity shop for their advice
    • Lewisham Trading Standards department ?

The local council concerned is a unitary authority (incorporating licensing and trading standards) - see Variations across the UK.  There's no mention of which department(s) the paper spoke to - was it the licensing department or trading standards or some other department?  The article mentions a trading standards department in another area (Lewisham - London).  There's no mention of licensing departments.

Plus icon

The good news

We congratulate the newspaper for investigating the issue and writing a detailed and interesting article - so bringing the matter to the public's attention.
It was a nice idea to include a photograph of the leaflet.

Minus icon

The 'bad' news

The article suggests that the advice from the Council (and British Heart Foundation) is to "be cautious" when donating (eg see the headline).  This is good advice as far as it goes.  However we're disconcerted that there is no mention of the following points, especially the first one (the licensing authority) :

  1. The licensing authority :
  2. TSD - You can also complain to the trading standards department (TSD) of the appropriate council.  They may choose to become involved - but normally this would be in addition to action by the licensing department, not a substitute for it.
  3. ASA - You can also complain to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)
    However, their investigations are correspondence-based, and take several weeks. They have no powers to intervene on the day of the collection.

The solutions

Our plea - On behalf of the charities which are losing out because of these bogus collections, we urge everyone who is involved with (a) investigating, (b) commenting on, or (c) reporting in the media on suspicious house-to-house collections to :

CharityBags is very willing to offer help and advice - see Contact us.

We suggest that when the media report on these collections they mention CharityBags and refer readers to our website - www.charitybags.org.uk.

We encourage other websites to mention us and to add links leading to our website.

At present we can't offer a telephone helpline (although we'd like to).  However, we try to reply to emails in due course.

Also bear in mind that our website provides instantly-available 24/7 information on many aspects of house-to-house collections.  This might be crucial if you're trying to stop a dubious/bogus collection - because you (and the regulators) only have a couple of days to act once you've received any collection leaflet and/or bag.

Note - Our comments above regarding the article are intended to be constructive. 
They're mainly directed at the regulators who supplied information to the newspaper, rather than the newspaper itself.