Singapore – A Facebook user has sparked conversation online by querying the practice of using young people who say they are from low-income families to go door-to-door selling items like keychains. The companies concerned often claim they are raising the money for charity.

On Thursday (Nov 12), Facebook user Erika Mack posted her concern on the Complaint Singapore page. The item she had purchased for S$10 was a keychain with an image of a S$2 note.

She was informed that the company engaging the youths kept 50 per cent of the profit.

“I don’t have any issue with donations or door-to-door sales job,” she said. “But what I’m concerned about is the authenticity of the business to help the less fortunate, engaging or taking on the youth to do door-to-door and keep 50 per cent for a lousy product.”

Ms Mack tried doing some research on the company but to no avail. She asked the online community if anyone had had the same experience and had tried confronting or taking action against the companies listed on the clear folders carried by the youths.

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The response online was that this was a common sight in Singapore. One person, Facebook user Ida Faridah, said: “I was approached by the same young lady three times in Yishun but at different location telling me sad stories about herself being a single mother needing to support her children.”

“She was selling a keychain among other stuff for S$10. As I didn’t want to buy the items, I wished to give her S$5 instead, but she refused and insisted I buy the items from her.”

Facebook user Gee La was approached by a young man who said he had recently been released from Changi, could not find a job and so made keychains to sell. “I didn’t purchase the item but gave a S$10 Sheng Siong voucher (which cannot be used for beer, cigarettes and those consignment items).”

Another user, Lum Teresa Neo, said: “Been approached many times, be it house to house or on the streets. Is your free will if you want to buy or help. Maybe this is part of them making a living.”

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Those keen on confirming the legality of the charitable causes presented by those seeking donations have been advised by Facebook user Sarah Leong to do the following: “Please save 79777 on your mobile phone as a contact. I save it under the heading Charity Check. Anyone approaching you on the streets and asking for donations claiming it’s for charity should have the supposed charity’s licence and certificate number.”

She advised sending an SMS to the number in the following format: FR (space) licence/certificate number/organisation name. “You will get an instant reply confirming whether it is a genuine charity.” /TISG

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ByHana O