An Australian children’s charity has been forced to suspended a fundraising team after reports of a door-knocker antagonising residents in Melbourne’s north.
Dozens of people claim to have been visited by a young woman saying she was collecting for The Smith Family, whom they described as acting aggressive and demanding.
Residents at Lalor, Mill Park and surrounding suburbs say their doors were knocked by “rude” Smith Family collectors in recent days as late as 8.30pm.
“A girl in her 20s has just knocked on my door 7:45PM claiming to be from The Smith Family asking for people to sign up to their foundation,” a Lalor resident reported to a local Facebook group on Thursday night.
The collector was “very persistent” after the resident declined then “became slightly irritated” when her request to be let into the home to use the toilet was declined, the local said.
Unsure if the young woman was a legitimate collector, the resident shared the incident with the group to alert others in the area.
“Please keep an eye out and warn your friends and family,” the resident wrote.
‘I was actually a bit scared’
Within hours, hundreds of people responded to the thread, reporting similar experiences with “rude” knockers claiming to be from The Smith Family.
“I was just telling my husband about this girl... She was very rude and wouldn’t leave,” one Lalor woman wrote.
“She was getting angry that I wouldn’t listen to her and I was actually a bit scared.”
Another added: “She was so rude. I told her I wasn't feeling well and was in dressing gown and already give to Smith Family through my wages, but she kept persisting. I basically had to close door on her to get her to leave.”
“She's around Mill Park did the same at my mum's place got to use the toilet, but was not impressed when she realised my mum waiting outside the door,” a third person wrote.
Neighbours also reported a “rude” man collecting for the charity.
“I'm in Mill Park and I had a guy who said he was from The Smith Family come to my door about 8.30 on Wednesday,” one person wrote.
“He was so persistent I actually had to be rude and close the door in his face who comes around at that time of night WTF (what the f***).”
Others reported being approached by a man, who said he was from The Smith Family, asking to be invited inside.
The Smith Family suspends team
A spokesperson for the charity advised the team operating in the area had been suspended pending further training after the Yahoo News Australia brought the reports to their attention on Friday afternoon.
“The behaviour described is not acceptable and is not condoned by The Smith Family,” the charity stated.
It said fundraisers were trained in specific codes of practice according to the Public Fundraising Regulatory Authority (PFRA) as well as the charity’s own standards of behaviour.
“The team was advised of the complaint, and were re-trained to ensure an understanding of the PFRA code of conduct, and repercussions of any breach,” the spokesperson said.
They added The Smith Family fundraisers were expected to treat all members of the public with courtesy and respect at all times, and required to display identification on their shirt or jacket, the charity confirmed.
While door-knocking is permitted between 10am and 8pm Monday to Friday, and 10am and 6pm on weekends and public holidays, The Smith Family said it discouraged collections after 7pm.
But fundraisers were not permitted to enter a premises or even request access, the spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.
As the Smith Family is a member of the Fundraising Institute of Australia, collectors must abide by the peak body’s Code of Conduct, the ACCC confirmed.
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