And now for something exactly the same

Dear Goodwill,

The first time you turned me away I understood.  I was frustrated, and annoyed, and physically exhausted (which wasn’t your fault), but I did understand.  Okay, my couch was really old – it had been my grandparents and then my older brother had taken it out to Arizona where it had moved a few times, and then I had rescued it and had it in San Diego for awhile before moving up to Camarillo.  So, in all fairness, it wasn’t exactly “gently used.”  And the fact that it was day-glo green probably didn’t help. 

But, perhaps a little better definition of “gently used” would have been good information to have before I had carried it down a flight of stairs, loaded it onto my truck, driven to the store by my apartment, unloaded the couch and been in the process of bringing it into the store (assisted by two of your employees).  Nowhere on your website does it say, “We take donations unless they are past a certain age and as long as the potential donations aren’t day-glo green.”  It was still in one piece, had all of its cushions, and functioned as a couch.  Just because I didn’t want it anymore doesn’t mean somebody else could have benefited from it, right?

Additionally, which would have also been good information to have beforehand, nowhere on the site does it say, “Donations are at the discretion of the floor manager which can override the opinions of the rest of the employees.”  I mean, the couch was already through your front doors, and one of your managers took a look at it and said, “No, we won’t take that.”  Excuse me?  Really?  But two of your employees have already helped me carry it into your store…  Oh, that’s right, it is day-glo green.

Like I said to begin with, I actually understood.  It was a pretty hideous green color and it might have trouble being sold even to those who had desperate need for a couch.  Still, the lack of a clear explanation on why it wasn’t “acceptable” was annoying.  And I left extremely frustrated because now I had to figure out what my other options were for getting rid of the couch.  Your employees and store manager were not helpful along those lines either.

Wanting to be a good citizen, a good custodian of Earth, I tried to donate to one of your stores again a short time later.  My wife and I had purchased a condo and we did a bit of renovation.  I had learned my lesson this time though and I called to ask if you wanted what I had to donate before I went to the trouble of loading it in my truck and driving it all over.  After several rejections at stores around Ventura County I finally found one that was happy to talk to me and was excited for me to being willing to donate some of my gently used appliances – yes, I had learned that lesson the first time around too.  As a bonus, none of the new items were day-glo green so I didn’t even have to worry about that.

I loaded my truck.  I drove to the store.  I was in the process of unloading, when one of your employees came out to take a look at my truck and said, “No, we won’t take any of these.”  But, I had just talked to someone who said you would…  These items are all basically brand new they just weren’t what my wife and I wanted…  Seriously?  You are turning away more of my donations?

If I was frustrated and annoyed the first time around then that second time I was pissed-off.

At what point did your stores, those in place to help people who have fallen on hard times, become so discerning in what items they will accept?

Perhaps my items weren’t exactly the same as everything else available in your store.  Perhaps my items weren’t something someone could walk into Home Depot and pick off a shelf.  I’m not arguing they were different (and, yes, day-glo green), but when did only carrying the exact same things as Home Depot and Lowe’s become your standard operating procedure?

Perhaps you could provide a better definition of “gently used” along with any additional criteria on which items you will and will not accept on your website to keep these sort of misunderstandings from happening again in the future.  I for one would greatly appreciate that and I have a feeling I’m not alone.


Failed Donator


This post was written in response to this week’s weekly writing challenge:  I wouldn’t say that I have a normal style as my blog has covered rants, personal stories, fiction, poetry, and sports reviews in its fledgling existence.  However, I hadn’t yet done an Open Letter and thought this would be a good opportunity to try one out.

Even though I’ve been pondering the topic of this letter for quite some time I still found it extremely difficult to commit to words.  I struggled to find the right tone, the right balance between questioning the policies in place and presenting my aggravation over my experiences.  Hopefully, it turned out okay.

38 thoughts on “And now for something exactly the same

  1. Nicely done!

    I, too, have felt the sting of Goodwill’s rejection. I feel your pain, but not in the physical sense of transporting a day-glo green couch all the way there only to be turned away. That’s just rubbing lime juice in the wound, if you ask me.

  2. Goodwill used to be for good will. Now it’s for profit – that might be the driving factor here, in their ‘discernment’ of what’s worthy of their attention – jes sayin….

    • Yes, that probably is the driving factor here. Hopefully that isn’t at the expense of any one that could have otherwise used the help… Thanks for the “like!”

  3. We don’t have Goodwill shops in the UK but this problem is neverthless global! When we had our clear out to move abroad in the summer, loads of our stuff got turned down by the local charity shop (yes, having been carried inside by their burly employees). It wasn’t the turning down that stung so much – more the way the old witch working there turned her nose up at our precious belongings as if we’d presented her with a bag of manure… That’s the last time I donate goods to charity…

    Great post!

    • A global prolem? That’s even more disheartening. And I completely understand that feeling; it was hard enough to decide to donate some of these items only to have them looked at with disgust, distate, disapproval. Yep, it stung. Sorry you experienced issues donating too. Thanks for reading and the comment.

  4. In my neighborhood the donation trucks come to you. It is the best thing since sliced bread. Put a bag of donations on the front porch and when you get home their gone. They even took a large old patio set one day. Great post.

    • I’ve dealt with the Salvation Army a few times, and they’ll come to my house and pick up stuff too. Haven’t been rejected by them yet… might just be a matter of time though.

  5. I like the open letter style! I can’t understand why they did not accept the day-glo green couch — if you had dropped it at a museum of modern art, it could have been their lobby centerpiece, I am sure! ~ Kat

    • Oh! Brilliant! I hadn’t even thought of a museum. Will definitely try to donate to one of them next time I’m getting rid of one of my more “interesting” items. Thanks!

    • Happy to hear you’ve had better luck than me, and I hope your luck continues in the future. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  6. I think part of the issue is just society itself. It used to be that when people needed help, when they were poor and didn’t have furniture, etc.. they were grateful for anything they could get, and that would have loved your old green couch (I’m pretty sure I have slept off drunkeness on that couch more than once). Now, even the poor people demand the name brand, expensive, designer stuff, I see it all the time here in R/C. You would cringe at the cars that are nicer than mine that are pulling in to Goodwill, Salvation Army, and the Welfare Office.

    Side note: Do you still have it? I may know someone who will take it.

  7. So… we aren’t the only people who try to donate to the Goodwill and are rejected. I was starting to feel ashamed of my taste in furniture/appliances! Excellent letter – in fact we should all print it out, sign it and mail it into Goodwill HQ. (with your permission, of course!)
    I suspect that Goodwill does not distribute our gently used goods to needy families (which their very name implies), but instead put it up for sale in their thrift stores – which BTW have prices not so different than the retail stores. Uh Oh, you started me on a rant here and I just dropped by to say thank you for following my blog, I’m honored 😉

  8. The Good will in our area is to expensive to shop at its crazy 10 bucks for an old purse,or shirt its cheaper at gt Good letter! It’s all about profits! Our goodwill would have taken it and sold it for a big price.

  9. What a great rant. And I found it because you stopped by my post, so thanks. We’ve never had anything turned away, but we tend to go to the smaller charities that come around in a truck. Plus we live in SW PA which isn’t very upscale…: ) Don’t those people know that lime green is IN?

    • Wait, wait, wait! Lime green is in again?! Oh no. I got rid of the couch too soon!! Since our troubles with Goodwill, my wife and I have also found a local, smaller, charity that happily accepts all of our “gently used” items.

  10. Heah. How do I follow your blog? I love it. But I can’t find out where to push the button to follow (you) it around. Do you know you can add a “Follow Widget” from the widget list?

  11. I just loved everything about this. 🙂 It was fun to read. Not to say that I was enjoying your moment of aggravation (technically, I was…..) but really, I just enjoyed your style.

  12. I stopped donating to Goodwill when they did not show up at all to pick up some big items I had left outside my driveway as directed. The Veterans, on the other day, are fantastic! You schedule it online and they come pick up, rain or shine (but you have to let them know if it is big items). Never again do you have to load your truck!
    Nice site by the way

  13. I stopped by because you “liked” one of my posts – and I was glad I did. I enjoyed this piece (I, too, have had good luck with Salvation Army pickup. Plus I could schedule it online.)

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