Caught out by door to door charity collection-Appco strikes again

Just wanted to share my recent experience as a gullible punter.
Yesterday I answered the door to a young man representing a charity providing aid to children from domestic violence. A worthy thing I thought (and still do.)
I asked the rep to spare me all the nice things that my contribution would assist with and just get to the hub of what he was offering.
It was a gift card, but one with a difference.
By purchasing the card I could redeem it for,a variety of other gift cards,where the partner companies involved would give the equivalent to this charity.
Some of the companies involved were Coles and Hoyt’s.
Also I did not need to use the full value of the gift card in one transaction.
Ok, I thought, this could be good.i occasionally shop at Coles, so a Coles gift card would not go to waste.
I promptly purchased a $50 card. Note, as this was a purchase and not a donation, there was no tax benefit.
All I then needed to do was log in to a web site, enter the number on my card and purchase the ‘gift’ of my choice.

Well, it was downhill from there.
On returning inside I looked over my new purchase only to read the following, “Appco is engaged by… and will receive 60% of the sale price.”
Hang on, the company selling these “gift” cards get $30 of the $50 I just handed over thinking it would all go to the charity!
I was not impressed.
On logging in to the website to claim my gift of choice I was further dismayed to find that the gift cards in question are not as I thought. They are actually vouchers for specific products. If you have no use for these specific products, too bad. Even the Hoyt’s offer was related to vouchers to use in the rental DVD kiosks in supermarkets, not tickets to the cinema.

So I gave $20 to a charity.
$30 dollars to a fundraising agency.
In order to get vouchers for products I don’t actually use.

Having already sworn off street collectors for a similar reason (most of the money given in the first 12 months goes to the collection agency (guess who?), not the charity). I have now sworn off door knockers.
Any gifts in future will be direct to the charity, at least as direct as I can make it.



I make it a rule never to give to any charity that knocks unsolicited on my front door. You never know if you’ll get a fraudster with convincing looking fake ID. I always donate via official websites or supermarket charity tins.

We once had a charity invade our street with multiple door knockers at multiple houses all at once. I politely said “No thank you” and closed the door. The young teenager then banged really hard on our door, rang our doorbell half a dozen times and stormed off. When I opened the door to tell him to bugger off he marched up to me fuming with rage. I asked for his ID and he refused to show it. His mates all turned up and they left the street. I then contacted the charity and informed them that they’ll be seeing no charity from me as long as they employ thugs to try and intimidate people who don’t wish to donate to street knockers. They gave an unreserved apology and said they’d look into it. No idea what happened after that.


I use to donate monthly to Save the Children and during that time I had a charity door to door come and I told him I donate to Save the Children and can’t afford to donate monthly to another as I’m only on a pension. He asked me how long have I donated to them and I told him a long time. He said Save the Children have gotten enough from me and to dump them and go with his charity. I didn’t. But due to financial problems I unfortunately had to stop all donations a few months later.


A funny story - we were working at an old house (peeling paint, steps falling down) and dressed in our working gear, faded, patched, when two young blokes called by, saying they were from a charity that looked after those less fortunate. I think they were Oxfam. Husband immediately thought they were trying to give us something and launched into a speech about how we were OK, not well off but getting by and didn’t want hand-outs. I think they were as gob-smacked as I was and moved on. There were quite a number of them doing the street. Rare for small country towns.

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Thanks for the post James, I’ll certainly be be asking a lot of questions if I find myself in a similar situation.

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Thanks for sharing James and very interesting.

I wonder what a legal expert thinks of this, if 60% is going directly to Appco than wouldn’t this door to door sale be highly illegal? Do the charitable exceptions on door-to-door sales apply with so much going directly to a for-profit company?

If the exceptions don’t apply, then you’d have full rights under the Door-to-door and Telemarketing parts of the ACL, and you should ask for a refund if you’re not happy.


Could it also be argued that a gift card is a “financial product”? Then additional protections apply depending on where you live.


@southerton all that you say is true and had I paid over more than $50 I might indeed pursue the avenues you mention. However, even though I am retired I still think in terms of ROI and the ‘cost’ of my time.
I posted not for help in recompense but just to alert others of this sham. But thanks anyway.


Fair enough @james, up to you. But can you put a price on the satisfaction of Appco receiving a fine of $1m? :slight_smile:

According to the ACCC guide, a company can face fines of up to $1.1m

Also in the guide: “Donations to charity, where no sale is involved, are not unsolicited consumer agreements”. From your description, there was clearly a sale involved, no donation receipt for tax and you were given a gift card. I guess this is to stop door-to-door sales companies skirting the law by donating a tiny sliver of the sale to a charity.

I’d encourage you to take it further.


Sorry to hear that.Hopefully you wont get caught again. This same system can also apply to calls you get asking to donate money to XYZ charity. ASK the caller -are they actually calling from the charity itself otr a call centre? And to check that, take their number and employee name or number and call the charity back. In most cases the calls are made by a Call center - so you are in effect paying the salaries and wagwes of a call centre with very little actually going to the charity.

Better to offer your time as a volunteer, blankets, etc or knit things for their clients patients fund raising etc. ASK - INSIST you get a Tax Deductible Receipt too!

Omg! That would have been heart breaking and so frustrating! That’s so misleading and dishonest. I can’t stand that sort of thing going on! Who can we call in these cases? The ACCC?

Well it really is a case of caveat emptor.
While I do think the seller was perhaps selling up the product and failing to mention some things, to be honest he was just doing his job.
As far as being fooled, well my impatience and simply wanting to make my gift and end the conversation went a long way to my failure to actually examine the material fully before I handed over the cash.

I do think though that the fact that the charity receives only 40% of the money should have more prominence in the presentation, hence my post here. Hopefully the more publicity these practices get, the less people will be taken in. The problem of course is how do the charities survive if concerns such as Appco are no longer used. I can only assume that even only getting 40% of the ‘gifted’ monies is a lot better than they were getting without the use of Appco. Still…

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Not all door knockers are representing greedy agencies. Don’t tar them all with the same brush. I collect on behalf of the Salvos (and have for the Red Cross in the past). It’s a simple task just taking a bit of time and I usually get a favourable reception. We do not get paid and donors can claim a tax rebate on donations of $2 and more. Donors will always be given a receipt. Beware of inducements, just give what you can afford in order to help the needy and expect nothing in return.
John Edwards.


The charities may get 40% but if it deters people from making further charitable donations when they realise they have been misled, the charities may well lose out in the longer run.


The safest way to donate to a charity is directly to the charity of your choice. No door knockers and no street hawkers.

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If I were a betting man, I’d bet on probably nothing happened.

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Another gullible punter here, slightly different story! (And in my defence, when I shared my experience with an equally intelligent and savvy friend who lives nearby, she had had an identical experience.)

We both fell for a $30 book of vouchers, which we’d understood to be a donation with a little freebie thrown in by Coles group. The vouchers were virtually worthless, entitling one to to free newspapers, bottled water or machine-made coffee from an On the Go (I think) - nothing I would normally buy. After he’d left, I realised that I didn’t have a receipt for the “donation”, and when I googled, found this:

I did actually email or phone (can’t remember) to complain, as I felt that I’d been misled and said that the marketers whould at least make it clearer - but obviously they haven’t changed anything.

Generally I only give to the legitimate annual drives at the door by Red Cross and Salvos (and make other donations online), but this guy obviously caught me at a weak moment, and of course child victims of domestic violence are deserving of one’s help. Also I did have some sympathy for who I thought was a uni student in a part-time job, my son having done the same thing for a large and well-known charity (trying to get people to sign up for monthly donations - not easy and they had targets to meet).

On the subject of APPCO, it it worth looking at the Sunday Night program on Channel 7 on the 18th June 2017. It talked to former APPCO contractors who revealed the fact that reputable charities are using APPCO (and a myriad of other marketing companies owned by APPCO) . APPCO is signing up people to donate a fixed amount per month to the charity. They say the charity gets all the money, which it does, but the charity then refunds 80 or 90% back to APPCO.for a number of months. Whistleblowers revealed that people often cancelled monthly payments after 6 months so the charity effectively gets only a few percent of the donations. I think this makes any charity that uses APPCO complicit in the scam.

Media watch also gave Channel 7 a good grilling over that one.