NTT hits back at Dispatches investigation

22 Aug 2014 News

Telephone fundraising agency NTT has hit back against the Channel 4 investigation on telephone fundraising which accused the organisation of making nuisance calls.

Telephone fundraising agency NTT has hit back against the Channel 4 investigation on telephone fundraising which accused the organisation of making nuisance calls.

Speaking to Civil Society News, director Natalie Bailey said that Dispatches only gave the organisation an opportunity to give a statement and did not offer to interview anyone.

She also stated that the quotes used didn’t come from anyone in a management position, and that “it really felt like the reporter had to deliberately set up junior members of staff to say things about aspects that they were not trained in, that could be used out of context”.

Bailey went on to say that what upset them most about the investigation was that they took they took “an off-the-cuff comment from a junior member of staff and made out that it was NTT’s stance”.

The Dispatches programme, which was broadcast last week, featured undercover reporters stationed at NTT Fundraising in Bristol and London-based Pell & Bales. It featured evidence of potential breaches of sector regulations by fundraisers.

In a blog for Civil Society News, written by directors Bailey and Dave Clark, NTT stated that “we do not make ‘nuisance’ calls - raising money for charity is not a nuisance, it is a necessity”.

They also made several clarifications on comments made during the programme that they felt were inaccurately portrayed, such as denying the organisation is a sales company.

They insist that NTT Fundraising does not call back ‘soft refusals’, and that this was incorrectly stated in the programme.

They also state that they do adhere to data protection laws. They wrote: “Had we known that NTT’s data procurement process for acquisition campaigns was going to be discussed on national television we would have had someone slightly more credible than a junior fundraiser discussing it.”  

Bailey and Clark also wrote that the reporter was in the call room for nearly 85 hours and from that time the programme-malers were only able to present a few minutes of negative footage, of which most “was of people in non-operational situations and some comments even captured whilst fundraisers were outside the office having a cigarette break”.  

They added: “It was reassuring to realise that the journalist attended the whole of NTT Fundraising’s new-caller induction, sat through 3.5 days of classroom training, had two formal coaching sessions and received two ad hoc coaching sessions, as well as attended a series of workshops, and was unable to feature a single credible example of wrongdoing from any of this activity.”

Updated 26/08/2014:

Channel 4 has since responded in a blog post disputing any allegation made by NTT that the reporter "set up" the fundraiser.

A spokesman said: "We note that NTT were satisfied with the performance of the undercover reporter as a fundraiser.  We were equally satisfied with his conduct as a reporter and utterly refute the very serious allegation that he ‘set up’ junior members of staff.  This would be a serious breach of his trade and of Ofcom regulations. 

"We note that there is no evidence offered to support this allegation despite the research done by NTT into the period he spent with them.  Indeed he did, as the directors point out, spend a short time working for NTT but despite this was able to record the significant number of concerning incidents above within this period."