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Aggressive Canvassing

Joshua McNichols

Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen says he's received many complaints about aggressive canvassers. Canvassers solicit donations for charities on public sidewalks. People complain they intimidate and accost pedestrians. Rasmussen wants to rein the canvassers in. KUOW's Joshua McNichols has more.


Tom Rasmussen says he's been hassled himself by aggressive canvassers. He points out one intersection in particular.

Rasmussen: "One brief time, I was there about a week ago, there were five — three on one corner and two on another corner — at Pine and 5th Avenue. That's just two corners, five people."

Rasmussen says among canvassing companies in Seattle, there's one bad apple: A company called Dialogue Direct.

Rasmussen: "There are four companies in town that do this. I've met with everyone but Dialogue Direct, and what I've learned are the Dialogue Direct people generally won't meet with public officials. They don't like to talk about what they do. They haven't returned any of our calls, and they're the most aggressive on the street."

Dialogue Direct executive Dan Mandell denies his company engages in aggressive canvassing. Employees may offer unsolicited handshakes, but he says he discourages them from walking backwards in front of pedestrians or from following them.

Mandell: "We're very proud of the fact that all of our fundraisers must adhere to a code of conduct in all of their solicitation efforts. And that code of conduct basically states that they're to be polite, honest and only engage in conversation with members of the public who stop to speak to them."

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen is considering legislation to limit aggressive canvassing in Seattle.

After appearing on KUOW Wednesday, he arranged a meeting with Dialogue Direct. That will happen next week. Rasmussen says if he doesn't see a drop in complaints, he'll tighten up the rules.

For KUOW, I'm Joshua McNichols.

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