Apparently, The Salvation Army Doesn't Want My Stuff

Jing tells Consumerist that he she thought that donating some items to the Salvation Army would be satisfying and relatively simple. Unfortunately, he she hadn’t counted on the people handling pickups for his her local branch to have the sort of vague sense of time that one normally associates with cable installers or appliance repair technicians.

I scheduled a pickup for Tues June 29th and was told to check back on my ticket to see what time the pick up would be. I checked the night before and it said 8AM-11AM. I got up at 7:30AM to drive from my new apt to my old apt to be there for the pick up. Between then and 10:30, I tried calling 1-800 SA truck which is automated and somehow, does not have my zip code on their system. I had to call around 3 different places before getting to the local rehabilitation center in [redacted] that has my ticket.

Around 10:30, I am able to speak to dispatch [redacted] who tells me that I was rerouted at about 8:30 for 11AM-1PM. Then, I am told the truck had to go for maintenance so the pickup will now occur between 2-4PM. He assures me he can give me a call 30 min before the pickup occurs. At 3:10, I call dispatch again to confirm that the truck will make it before 4, which he does. I then ask that he call the driver. I get put on hold for 10 min and then the dispatcher asks to call me back. He doesn’t call me back by 3:45. I call him and he tells me the truck was called to an emergency “move out” that was not on his route and will not make it by 4PM, but “You are definitely on his route today and he will come.” He promises to call me back to update me on an ETA. I don’t hear from him by 4:20 so I call him back only to be told that he has LEFT FOR THE DAY. I am also told that the driver will be out until 7 or 7:30 and that [redacted] (where I am) is at the end of his route.

I confirm with the operator that I can just leave out the items by my door with a big sign labelling the items as donation and with my phone number and new address. I didn’t want to leave the items out as it includes a working 50″ plasma TV and a large number of new items, but I begrudingly do that at 6:00 as I have to turn in my keys before the leasing office closes.

I call them back at 8AM this morning to be told that the driver got sick and had to have his routes rerouted for today. I called them at 2PM today having not received a call to say the items have been picked up, but both the dispatchers were busy. As of now (2:20 on 6/30/10) I have still not received a call of any kind.

I am beyond furious that a group that is supposed to help the needy can be so incompetent and disrespectful of my time. I was offered $500 for the TV and turned it down thinking that I would rather have it go to a worthy cause. A large number of the other items and clothing are new with the tags still on and could have been sold online. I took off an extra day for my move thinking that I would have time to relax and instead spent from 8AM-6PM in a practically empty apartment dealing with something that should have been satisfying and easy. The worst part is that it’s still potentially not over and I can only hope that the pickup will happen today and that I will not have to drive back to retrieve the items or have them thrown out.

We didn’t get an update from Jing on the situation, but will post an one when we do. Moving is stressful enough, and the people picking up furniture should know that and show up on, at minimum, the correct day.

Next time, sell the stuff and donate the money to your favorite charity.

Update: Jing adds:

I’m actually female :) My biggest problem with the Salvation Army is that they never gave me any updates as to delays. I was proactive in calling them to confirm times and still was never called back even when they promised to do so multiple times. As far as I know, they finally picked up the items yesterday at 3pm, but even that information was from me calling them multiple times after being promised to be called back and not having it happen.

To the person suggesting that I was lazy: I’ve sold plenty of things in CL (clothing, a TV, Wii, tickets, etc) and have no problem fielding emails and setting up pickup times. In fact, I usually meet with people in public so that it’s more safe so I wouldn’t consider myself “lazy.”

To a few commenters: The reason I was reluctant to leave the items on the sidewalk was that I live in a gated community. I didn’t think my neighbors would want to invite random people into the apartment complex to pickup items. Also, I didn’t want to keep the items exposed to the elements for longer than I had to. It doesn’t rain much here, but if it did, the TV would have been useless.

I’ll definitely just sell or give away the items on Craigslist next time.