Monday, September 01, 2008

Good Will? I think not...

At the risk of sounding strident for three posts in a row, I’ve got to ask this question:

When did Goodwill become Bad Will?

With my mother now living in a board and care home and using a wheelchair provided by her insurance, there was no reason for me to keep the transfer chair (a wheelchair, but with all small wheels) that she used when out shopping or visiting before she broke her hip recently. Instead of just trashing it, as it is in fine shape, I wanted to donate it so someone else could benefit from its use.

The first organization I thought of to donate the chair to was Goodwill Industries.

So I went down to one of the local Goodwill stores and inquired about donating the chair.

A male employee snapped at me: “We’re closed for the day.” Which was kind of strange, since people were still shopping in the store and the doors were still unlocked. And then he added, “And anyway, we don’t accept medical equipment.” As he said “medical equipment”…he fairly spit out the words…he wrinkled his nose as if he had smelled something bad. As if the chair must be contaminated or something.

Fine. I managed not to rip the guy a new one and just said that I would donate the chair to someone who would appreciate it, in that case.

The chair has since been donated to Amvets.

But it is an interesting thing. I looked up the websites of both the national organization of Goodwill Industries and the organization in the region in which I live. The national site does not say anything about what is or is not accepted, as far as I could find. And the local organization’s website has a list titled: “Due to environmental regulations and/or safety concerns, we are NOT ABLE TO ACCEPT the following items [capitalization theirs]:”, followed by a list of items that will not be taken by the organization. The closest to wheelchairs any of the ten or twelve categories of items on the list comes is this: “Food, beverages, medicine or vitamins”. No mention of medical equipment in general, and no mention of wheelchairs or transfer chairs specifically.

So, the guy was not only rude. He was wrong. Not a way to build good will, is it?

I don’t think I will be donating anything to Goodwill Industries anytime soon.


The voice of reason said...

WOW. I shop and donate to Goodwill regularly and never would I let my own frustration at being inconvenienced deter me from supporting a 100-year old charity that helps disadvantaged youth and adults gain skills and find employment. Especially in this economy. Perhaps you encoutered a bad employee but don't punish the organization. SO SORRY, someone was "rude" to you and you didn't call ahead to see if medical equipment was accepted. Did you stop to think that when they accept items they can't resell, it costs them money to dispose of it and or recycle it? Which means less money for their human service programs... In times like these, non profits struggled to stay ahead with the lack of retail spending and cuts to government-funded programs. Goodwill is still a way of life... give them another chance.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Give Goodwill another chance. I work for one in Tennessee and I'm sorry you ran into a rude employee. We rely on donations from people who are generous like you. Please don't let this bad experience shape your entire opinion of the agency. I do apologize on behalf of all Goodwills out there that you were treated rudely. I hope you will reconsider supporting our mission.

McMGrad89 said...

I don't think Ima's situation is necessarily a rare one. I have also stopped frequenting GW. There are excellent organizations who also need donations who provide their goods to people who can't even afford the $5-10 for a pair of shoes, etc.

I am glad the AMVETS were able to utilize the transfer chair.

lma said...

Thank you for that. The problem is, that wasn't the first time I had run into problems with Goodwill. So, I have already given them chances.

Also, my friend who was with me during the incident I described has run into much the same thing several times with the organization as well, in more than one state.

They haven't gotten their act together, so I've just decided to give some of the many other deserving charities out there my future business.

xJane said...

I've also had enough bad experiences with Goodwill that I don't donate there any more. Salvation Army is my choice these days, or Out of the Closet, or a local one. Goodwill seems to be the most poorly organized of that genre of stores/donation centers, which is unfortunate, since its name is nearly synonymous with the industry.