Oxfam rips off its customers (yet again)

Oxfam Quarry Street

Oxfam Quarry Street

I was in the Oxfam shop in Quarry Street in Guildford today.

The price on a book was not clear and so I queried it. The price I was given was clearly wrong and I explained the book had been mispriced.

The appropriate response of the person behind the counter should have been to graciously accept that a mistake had been made, apologise, and thank me for drawing it to their attention.

But no, the person became aggressive, defensive and blatantly lied, saying that was always the price.

I knew this not to be the case as I had previously bought this book, and this one was in poor condition with broken spine.

I suggested that the the person who was coming across as an idiot, actually checked the prices of the other books on the shelves and he would then find what he was claiming was wrong.

He refused. Not only did he refuse, he called his manager to back him up.

At this point I decided I was wasting my time and decided to leave. On principle I was not prepared to be ripped-off

The parting shot of the idiot was: We are a charity!

Since when has being a charity been an excuse to rip people off?

Yes, Oxfam is a charity, but in reality it is a multinational business providing Third World Aid. Third World Aid is now Big Business.

There are three Oxfam shops in Guildford, one of which is a bookshop.

I walked to the Oxfam Bookshop. I find the book I was looking for on the shelve in better condition at £2-49, the price it should have been in the Quarry Street Oxfam shop if priced as the other books.

I asked that they had a quiet word in the ears of the Quarry Street Oxfam shop.

I then walked to the Oxfam shop at the top of the town. The books were priced at £1-99.

There are two charities that rip people off: Oxfam and British Heart Foundation.

When I speak to staff in BHF shops, they admit that they are overcharging, but they have instructions from external managers. They point to prices in other shops, but get nowhere. As a result the books needlessly circulate from shops to shops because they do not sell.

Periodically I find Oxfam Bookshops stripping the books and filling sacks. The books go to recycling.

Oxfam scandal

An exception for Oxfam is the Oxfam Bookshop in Lincoln. They do not rip people off, the staff know and love their books. It is a proper bookshop. Oxfam in an act of crass stupidity is closing the shop, it will be merged with an Oxfam shop, a few shelves in an Oxfam shop is not a bookshop. A crying shame. The blame though is not entirely that of Oxfam. Sincil Street, where the shop is located, is suffering blight, the area earmarked for redevelopment. One of the few remaining areas of character in the town centre scheduled for destruction.

Destruction of Sincil Street

Charity shops tell me that before Christmas they were told to open extra hours. Not worth it in terms of sales, they get no extra compensation for extra hours worked.

Prices of clothes go up, at the same time as prices drop elsewhere, making the charity shops uncompetitive compared with Primark or Matalan or ASDA George range.

Not all charity shops are like this. The smaller charities are much better. Often I find refugees from the larger charities who tell me horror stories from the larger charities.

When I talk to people in the smaller charities they are disgusted by the greed of the larger charities, they all get tarred with the same brush.

Books will be 50p, £1-50, £2-00, but no more. If they do not sell, the prices are lowered. One shop, if the books do not sell, they are put by the door at 10p. They never have to throw the books away, they always get something.

Books used to be £1-99 in the Quarry Street Oxfam until greed raised its ugly head. Now they are charging £2-69 and blatantly lying the books were always that price.

One of the best bookshops in the Guildford area is in a side street in nearby Godalming run by a small mental health charity. It is worth a visit to Godalming.

For music in Guildford try Ben’s Records. A far better selection than Oxfam, and unlike Oxfam, Ben does not rip people off, he values his customers.

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15 Responses to “Oxfam rips off its customers (yet again)”

  1. keithpp Says:

    Today I paid a visit to Frimley.

    The lady in the Parity shop told me Oxfam overcharge for their books. When I told her of my experience with Oxfam in Guildford the previous day, she was appalled. I do not know what price books were, but those by the door were 30p to get rid of them. The lady said they do not throw books away, they always get something for them.

    The Oxfam shop had books at £1-59, considerably less than Guildford.

    The two Age UK shops had books at 99p and these were in as new condition.

    Oxfam know they are ripping people off. If you query the prices in shops that are overcharging they become very defensive and try to justify ripping people off.

  2. Alice Says:

    Mr Keithpp
    I am sory that you feel that way but as you know you always have a plenty of choice if you are shopping from charity shops as you do whenever you buy your grocery from supermarkets compare and get the cheaper one.
    I cannot believe that you’ve had that conversation with the person behind the counter over only 20p. As he said this is a charity , the money doesn’t go in people’s pocket it goes to people who desperately need it. If you feel being ripped off then you have a choice to go and get a new one for £7.99 or £6.99 or go to car boot sales and get it for even 5p.
    Looks like you have an obsession about making complaints about anything and everything as you have mentioned you had that book before so you were trying to find something to complain and you’ve done. I can’t believe you have checked every single book’s price on the shelves and found especially just one with different price.
    Charity shops are not the places to haggle because everything is for good cause. Haggling in charities means that you are not helping people who are in need you are trying to get a help for yourself which is unacceptable in my book. If you are not willing to pay or you dont like the price you have a choice to go and get it from somewhere else.
    I think you’d better stop living your life with trying to find excuses and reasons to complain about everything and stop nagging!! Get a life man!!

  3. keithpp Says:

    I had no need to go through all the books, I knew what price they were priced at (confirmed by the Oxfam bookshop).

    I had picked up a book, saw it had been incorrectly priced,and informed the person behind the counter. But instead of being thanked, I got a defensive reaction and a pack of lies.

    Until that point, I had no grounds for complaint.

    It does of course help if people read and comprehend what is written, rather than engage in a rant that makes them look stupid.

    Being a charity is not an excuse to rip people off. But sadly many of the big charities are now big business, and like any big business, greed becomes the driving force.

    This is not true of the smaller charities.

  4. Paulo Nutella Says:

    Well said Alice. Keith, quit your whinging. You are free to shop around.

    Personally, I think you should purchase your books from Waterstones where you get world class customer service, you will feel comfortable in the knowledge you have contributed towards the great British tax system and you will benefit the author directly.

  5. keithpp Says:

    An exceedingly childish post. This is not a blog for trolls to post their rubbish.

    Everyone is free to shop around. It does not justify ripping off customers in the hope you can get away with it, any more than it justifies insurance companies automatically renewing insurance policies (usually at vastly inflated premiums), or banks mis-selling their products.

    https://keithpp.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/insurance-auto-renewal-scam/

    Anyone who thinks Waterstone’s provides service, obviously has never been in a good bookshop.

    https://keithpp.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/not-a-single-copy-of-neverseconds-in-waterstones/

    Farnham has an excellent Oxfam bookshop, very popular, friendly staff, and you do not get ripped off.

  6. richardwilliams1992 Says:

    actually i’d say the one in farnham is just as bad, I once saw a tattered paperback for £2.99. I also find Oxfam to be stingy going no lower than £1.99 for paperbacks and regret shopping there because the same books i buy there show up elsewhere for less than half the price.

  7. keithpp Says:

    Maybe, I should say, as a rule, the Oxfam Bookshop in Farnham does not rip people off.

    Paperbacks are usually £2, and usually in good condition.

    That is not to say, they should not be cheaper, In the RSPCA shop across the road 50p, and if they are overstocked, buy one, get one free. Other charity shops in Farnham, less than £2. The one exception, British Heart Foundation, which always rips people off.

    That is not to say, the Farnham Oxfam bookshop never tries to rip customers off.

    Last year, they had The Three Incestuous Sisters. A beautifully illustrated hardback book by Audrey Niffenegger. I cannot remember its price, maybe £20, maybe £25. A bit steep I thought. Then I saw its cover price. £16.99. Something clearly wrong, for a book published in 2005, obviously miss-priced. I draw it to their attention. They went off, came back, told me some bullshit about it being rare and out of print.

    When I got home home, I checked on Amazon. It was still in print, available now, I do not know then, but now at £12.79 (post free).

    I went back the next week, draw this to their attention, that they were blatantly ripping people off. Why would I pay more, for a second-hand book, when I can get it new, half their asking price, delivered free to my door?

    Off they went again, came back, no, that is the price.

    Annoying is their sticky labels on the books. Fine if you take them off straight away, but if not, they damage the cover.

    Now they have taken to sticking the sticking labels on the inside pages, which damages the pages.

    Again, I have told them, but it is like talking to a brick wall, they do not care.

    A couple of weeks ago, I was in the Oxfam shop in Quarry Street in Guildford. They were trashing perfectly good books. They do not even send them to the Oxfam Bookshop at the top of the High Street. They could mark them down, even put outside on a bookcase, help yourself, leave a donation, but no, they would rather trash books.

  8. richardwilliams1992 Says:

    that’s my main problem with them, they take down good books, scratch their heads wondering why they didn’t sell and repeat. they also sell outdated things such as cassettes and ps2 games for far too much to be worth buying

  9. keithpp Says:

    The problem with Oxfam is they have become greedy Big Business. It is dictated from on high the prices, with net result, stuff is often thrown out unsold.

    I would never donate to either Oxfam or British Heart Foundation.

  10. keithpp Says:

    Oxfam Bookshop in Farnham Saturday afternoon (I should have taken a picture), Revolver (in very poor condition) around £100 and a single over £100.

    https://keithpp.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/afternoon-in-farnham-19/

    My record collection, in mint condition, only played on expensive record decks, must be worth a fortune.

  11. t jenkins Says:

    Maybe an important thing to take into account with charity shops is that pricing will be differ from shop to shop including items, books etc, I have seen two books in the same shop priced differently. This is generally because there are a number of different volunteers working at different times, they are not paid so things are not always perfect but it is a charity and help is needed where they can get it. I volunteered for a while and its just wouldnt work like a high st shop with the amount of different people helping, I was one of 30 volunteers at the time. No three same charity shops in one town could all price everything the same. Books are not’ trashed’ they are recycled and charities receive money for them.

  12. keithpp Says:

    The books were trashed, they went for waste paper. These were perfectly saleable books, only greed was stopping them from being sold.

    Yes, there are volunteers, but when they try to sell items (not just books) at prices that reflect local conditions, they immediately receive an intervention from higher up the management chain, net result the items do not get sold, and are and thrown away. It is tragic, people have taken the trouble to bring unwanted items to a charity shop, but the overpaid management would rather see stuff thrown away than sold.

    Not all charity shops are bad. The more local the charity, the better their shops tend to be.

  13. Paul Eynstone Says:

    Dear Keith

    Thank you for your tweet about the prices of the second hand goods. I appreciate your feedback.

    I am sorry to hear that you feel that our prices are expensive. Our general principle with our pricing is that the price should represent good value for the customer and for the donor who entrusted us with their donation, and should raise significant funds for Oxfam’s work.

    All of our items are donated to our high street shops, and are priced by our volunteers. It can sometimes be a challenge to price all of our donated goods and keep up to date with other online prices, but we trust our volunteers to do the appropriate research and price the items accordingly. It can be a hard balance between being a competitive retailer, whilst also ensuring that we earn the greatest value from the donations that our supporters have given us.

    As you mention, our specialised books and music shops may have prices which are more accurate and this is because the volunteers who work there do it because their passion is books or music. Our wonderful volunteers in our main shops have a lot more individual items to deal with so as you can imagine how hard it must be to research every single item effectively every time.

    Having said that, we do respond to supporters’ feedback, and have on occasion re-listed items at different prices, if we have priced them incorrectly. If you have a specific item you are interested in, and you would like me to look into it for you, please do let me know and I’ll be happy to check with the shop manager for you.

    Of course our pricing methods do not excuse bad manners and I have forwarded your blog to our shop support team who will deal with your complaint for you.

    In regards to Oxfam being a big business, I would disagree. We are a big charity with over 22,000 volunteers and an annual turnover of about £360 million a year so we are big but the money we raise goes to those who need it the most rather than to stakeholders.

    We will certainly take your feedback on board, and will continue to strive to provide a great service, as well as offering competitively priced goods. Every purchase made through our shop really does make a difference to our work tackling poverty in over ninety countries around the world.

    Best Wishes

    Paul Eynstone | Oxfam Supporter Relations

  14. Marco Says:

    I saw that this post on your blog was a long time ago, but you’re complaining about Oxfam books being priced at £2.69? Have you even been to the Oxfam Bookshop in Royal Leamington Spa? Obviously the ‘Royal’ part of the town’s name gives them the right to be a complete rip-off. I collect good quality art books, and I’m willing to buy from a charity shop for a maximum of £10 for something very good in as-new condition. In Leamington, there were lots of stunning art books, I was in Heaven. But then I checked the prices – between £50 and £70 each. Nothing less than £30 for a thin paperback art book.

    I walked out in utter disgust without even looking for anything else.

    When will Oxfam realise their stock is given to them for free? And the secondhand bookshops in central London are cheaper than them, and those shops PAY for their stock. Plus they don’t get cheap rents like Oxfam does.

    Completely disgusting.

  15. jim Morrison Says:

    Oxfam is a sleazy capitalist enterprise.
    Our donations go towards prostitutes for creepy oxfam directors. That’s why things now cost so much in oxfam.

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