Door-to-door sales tactics startle Timaru residents

Police are advising people not to hand out credit card details to door knocking salespeople. (File pic)

John Bisset/Stuff

Police are advising people not to hand out credit card details to door knocking salespeople. (File pic)

Door-to-door sales people have startled Timaru residents prompting multiple complaints to police.

Sergeant Kevin McErlain, of Timaru, confirmed a dozen people representing Doctors Without Borders had been door-knocking Timaru addresses on Monday, leading to 10 complaints.

Some have been accused of hard sell tactics and police are again reminding people not to hand out credit card numbers to cold callers.

Other condemnation was swift on social media from Monday with numerous reports of cold-callers in the Timaru area.

McErlain said he spoke to the organisation which promotes itself as the world’s leading independent organisation for medical humanitarian aid, on Tuesday, and understood the Timaru door-knocking operation was legitimate.

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A Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) NZ spokesperson confirmed the organisation has public fundraising teams in New Zealand and this week is in Timaru.

“Our fundraisers adhere to the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association code of conduct, are dressed in MSF branded clothing and wear ID badges.”

The spokesperson urged any member of the public with concerns to contact its supporter relations team on 0508 633 324 or via the website

“Public fundraising is important to MSF’s mission to alleviate suffering and save lives by providing medical humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations globally.”

They said the organisation works in more than 70 counties, including Bangladesh, Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo and ”would not be able to do this without the generous financial support of New Zealanders”.

McErlain said the fact people were being asked for their credit card numbers as a way to donate was “upsetting”.

“People are concerned as there is a bit of a hard sell factor to it as well.

“Our advice is for people not to give them any credit card details.”

McErlain said he had three reports of salespeople also asking for the three-digit numbers on the reverse side of debit cards.

He said he had been informed by the organisation that was standard practice for one-off donations.

“We always advise people not to give out credit card numbers.

“Usually this type of outfit would give us the front foot.

“It’s the fact they are asking for credit card numbers and may look suspicious.”

One Timaru resident Kylie Kellas told Stuff she was concerned when she was door-knocked about 6.30pm by a salesperson on Monday.

“His approach wasn’t professional, he was quite pushy,” she said.

“He spoke really fast and said he was trying to fight Covid-19, he didn’t explain.

“He didn’t show me any identification, and he kept talking after I said I wasn’t interested.

“I told him I was broke and shut the door.”

Kellas said she was concerned vulnerable people in the community could be targeted as the operation did not appear legitimate.

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