In December 2012 my mother passed away. Following her passing I, along with my sister, have been going through all the necessary hoops to sort out her estate. One such task was to sell her bungalow and in the meantime find homes for her possessions including the furniture Rather than sell we decided it would be a nice idea to donate her furniture to a deserving charity. Unfortunately our experience of the British Heart Foundation (BHF) proved to be far from what we expected.
Our preferred charity, the Prospect Hospice in Swindon, was unable to collect the furniture on the day in question due to an issue with their vehicle and hence we looked for another suitable recipient and the British Heart Foundation seemed to be a good 2nd choice. I rang the Furniture and Electrical shop in Swindon to arrange for collection and straight away began to doubt my choice. I left a message and nobody rang me back so rang again where the phone was this time answered. I explained I wanted them to collect items of furniture later that week following the passing of my Mum. They started to say that we would send somebody out on the Friday to look at what they wanted and would arrange a follow up to collect. Feeling slightly offended at the way this came across I said that they either came out to pick it up on Friday or I would go to somebody else who wanted it. They then duly arranged to come out and pick it up Friday.
The day came and unfortunately I had a business commitment that meant my partner would stay at the house to meet them between their window of 9am and 1pm. No further communication from them gave us any idea if we were on the start or end of the run and when we just about to give up they arrived almost on the dot of 1pm.
Immediately my partner said she felt angry and upset at their lack of respect for my Mum’s good quality furniture as they went around ‘slapping’ labels on what they would accept and dismissing the bed which had a slight mark on the mattress. She was also upset at their indifference and the fact we were donating good quality furniture to them which would help them raise funds and they seemed to think they were doing us a favour.
We almost decided to tell them to stuff it, in hindsight I wish I had, but we didn’t, so they took what they wanted away and that was that.
I don’t know what I expected really other than to be treated courteously and have some respect for the passing of my Mum and the items we were donating to them that were of value to her and something she had looked after. They will no doubt make well over £500 profit from selling the items. If I had sent another charity a cheque for that amount then I would expect, and receive, an acknowledgement letter thanking me for the donation at this difficult time and telling me how much good use the money will be put to. It appears that if you donate furniture to the British Heart Foundation then expecting respect and a thank you will perhaps be a tad optimistic. Perhaps, as their website boasts, being the ‘biggest secondhand furniture and electrical retailer in the Country’ selling ‘good quality new and secondhand furniture and electrical goods’ has meant they have become too big and have lost that personal touch.
Take note BHF Swindon. Treat people with courtesy and respect and they will support you. It’s not difficult.
I have emailed the BHF and we will see what happens. Unfortunately its too late for us but hopefully if you are considering donating to them you can decide if they are worthy of your donation. It’s a shame as I am sure they do a lot of good work and having a mild heart condition myself I am clearly keen for them to support heart related research.
Incidentally the BHF shop comcerned in Swindon has a bit of a reputation as I have recounted my story to various people about our experience and was told that they have a bit of a form. So if you donate items or even buy furniture there, you have been warned.
Conversely I can’t recommend the Prospect Hospice charity shop at The Link Centre in Swindon highly enough. Very courteous and understanding and above all very grateful for any donations big or small that we have made to them. They will be the benefactors from the rest of the furniture in the house and any other items we can find.