Hijacked at the Checkout

“That’ll be $57.24, please. And would you like to donate to [INSERT CHARITY HERE]”

Has this ever happened to you?

If you are a regular grocery shopper, the answer is likely “yes.”

Increasingly, stores have taken to “guerrilla collection tactics” with regards to the charity of the hour. Fundraising at the checkout is now par for the course for an increasing number of charities.
Ambushed is how I feel, quite frankly.

It’s enough to count your pennies and stay within a reasonable budget when going through the checkout line. Furthermore, there is often the distraction/anxiety-producing reality of having one, two, three or more kids with you when you’re shopping. Do you really need to have to deal with this?

This latest solicitation has me, well, angry. I resent being put on the spot when
a) I’m not in the mindset to be “pitched” for money;


b) I’m put in the position of feeling cheap and being embarrassed in front of everyone else in line if i say   “no;” and


c) The person asking usually doesn’t explain the details of who or what the money is for, how it will be used/allocated, and related topics;

checkout counter

Stores are more frequently using this tactic for what appears to be the express purpose of “contribution via embarrassment.” It appears that the strategy behind this type of tactic is to shame the purchaser into saying “yes” because they are put on the spot and caught off guard. With other shoppers in the grocery line behind them, all within earshot of the purchaser’s response, it takes a strong person to say “no” and not feel embarrassed, cheap or ashamed of their decision.It has been found that it is a lot more difficult to reject a request for money when you are looking at a person face to face, than it is to be solicited over the phone, or via email/regular mail. The confrontational nature of the request and basic human psychology dictates that most of us are uncomfortable with saying “no” and disappointing the person asking.

And this is exactly what marketers and charities using this tactic are counting on. For this reason alone, I will purposely decline the request for funds solicited in this manner. Charities and corporations working together need to stop these types of ambush techniques if they really want to keep the respect and loyalty of their customers. Because at the end of the day, customers will make their dismay at these tactics known by taking themselves – and their dollars – elsewhere.

Has this ever happened to you? What do you think of this type of solicitation? Do you donate to charities via requests at the checkout line?

Image courtesy of www.madamenoire.com


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