Upset Over Getting Automatically Signed Up To Sponsor

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Actually, I sent you an email about this a week ago (through
Contact Us>Questions and Changes). I received an automated response from info@compassion.com saying they would respond quickly, but I have yet to hear back.

The problem is that I was sponsoring a child in Thailand. After sending a few payments and receiving no letters, I was informed he had left the project. Not much explanation.
After that I was not sure whether to continue sponsoring, as you can imagine. However, before I could decide whether to sponsor or not, I received in the mail a new sponsorship package congratulating me on "my decision" to sponsor a little girl in Thailand! How utterly preposterous to automatically sign me up to be some poor little girl's sponsor! To put it nicely, I am livid.

I would like to be taken out of your system and refuse to pay a single cent more. Today I received in the mail a bill for this girl's sponsorship. I hope you can find her a good sponsor, but Compassion will be receiving to more money from me.

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Sponsor Jon

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  • livid.

Posted 5 years ago

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Adam

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Jon, I'm just another sponsor like you but it makes me very sad to hear that you are upset and that you have not had a good experience in the short time that you were sponsoring with Compassion. Compassion is my favorite ministry and I can tell you from personal experience that the people who work at Compassion love Jesus and they care deeply about these children and their sponsors. To give just one example, they even pray for the children and sponsors individually if any of them are in any need of prayer. I'm so sorry that you are upset and angry over being assigned another child when your child left the program. I believe that Compassion implemented this procedure at the request of many sponsors since such a large percentage of sponsors go on to sponsor another child with Compassion after their child leaves the program. I'm so sorry to see you leaving Compassion this way and it makes me very sad but I wish you all the best. God bless you.
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Anne Oliver

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I had a similar experience back in 2008, which is when I first started sponsoring through Compassion. I had originally chosen an older girl from India, but she left the program about a month after I chose her.  Well, I wasn't sure about the whole sponsoring thing anyway, so I thought I'd just let it go and forget about it.  Well, lo and behold, a few weeks later, I am told (via letter with a sponsorship packet) I am now the sponsor of Sulika, a much younger girl in India.  I was kind of angry and not really happy about that at all!  I kept her though, and God's timing must be perfect, because not long after, I received my first letter from Sulika.  My first letter from her, and I was awed and amazed to have a letter from this sweet girl all the way in India!  I have sponsored ever since and love it!

Anyway, I'm not sure why Compassion chooses to automatically assign a new child to a sponsor when a child leaves the program, but I do know that you have every right to say no and they are fine with that.  They will certainly refund your money.  I just know in my case I'm so glad I didn't say no.  I would never have visited my sweet Sulika back in 2011 if I had said "no" to her way back in 2008.

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Sandy Montoya

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I had this happen after the child I sponsored for 12 years aged out of the program. I was close to Carlos and grieved over losing the connection with him. Compassion sent a packet for a child from Bolivia, but I called and told them no, that when I was ready to sponsor again I would choose the child. They honored my decision without question, thanked me for sponsoring Carlos for so long. I went a while without sponsoring as I needed time to grieve and be ready to build a new relationship. When I did, I found a 5-yr-old girl on the web site who shared my birthday. Saray is now 10 and I long to go visit her in Colombia. She sends the most precious letters! And photos when I send a family gift. After Saray, I sponsored a couple others. Again, I bonded with them through our letters and if I lost my job I'd go sell blood or something to maintain the sponsorships. I also heard about the correspondence program, so I correspond with a number of children who have financial sponsors, but often it is a business who sponsors many children and cannot write to them so they assign a correspondent like me. I have been so very blessed through my ministry with Compassion and the letters of gratitude prove to me the program works. It takes time to build the relationship, and I also have had a few leave the program suddenly for various reasons, but overall my experience with Compassion has been great. I hope you will reconsider and I am sorry your first experience was not a positive one. 
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Susan

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Sponsor Jon, I am so sorry for the confusion, anger, and frustration that we caused in automatically assigning this new little boy. :( Please understand that it is our heart to get children sponsored, but we in no way want to offend anyone in doing so. In fact, we adopted this procedure at the request of many of our sponsors. In looking at your account, it looks like there were issues with your address in Thailand as well. I am so sorry that you did not receive the letters that we had tried to send to you explaining that Joshua had left Compassion's program, and that we had a child on reserve for your consideration. The letter explained that you were under no obligation to sponsor this new child but that we would need to hear from you if you decided not to continue sponsorship. I have made Sawkorkuepaw available to another sponsor. Because Joshua left the program in June and your support in July went towards Sawkorkuepaw, I have sent a refund back to your account for the $38 that you had donated. We will find a way to cover Sawkorkuepaw's support through our Unsponsored Children's fund.
(Edited)
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Susan

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Also, Sponsor Jon, I wanted to check into the issue with the email you had sent last week. We typically respond to emails within 48 hours of when they were sent. I thought it strange because our Sponsor Relations department does not send automatic messages like you described. It looks like you had sent the email to our webmaster as a website issue. It took a little bit longer for us to respond to you because your email was forwarded to our Sponsor and Donor Relations department. However, I have a note that we received your email and attempted to respond on July 8. I am so sorry if you did not receive our response. We certainly were not trying to ignore your valued feedback! In fact, we are looking into making email notifications for situations like this the default for supporters outside of the US as a result of your feedback.
(Edited)
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Sponsor Jon

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Susan, thank you for your reply. 
The reason I responded through the channel that I did is because that is how you have it set up. I went to compassion.com and clicked on the "Contact Us" button. No mention that it is a for-website-problems-only button. After clicking contact us, a dialogue box pops up saying "We're here to serve you. See the many ways to reach us or choose from the three options below to contact us online:" Once again, no mention that this is was going to be sent as a webmaster issue. In fact, the three options are Making it seem like the last option is the only web-related option. I was a little confused as to which one to choose, but I went with "Questions" and posed my inquiry as a question as to why had I been signed up automatically. 
I got an automated response, but none other than that. To this day I can't find the responses you say you sent me. After a week I received a bill in the mail. This is when I went back to the "Contact Us" button and looked for other options. Under the three options listed above is a way to contact you via telephone. As I mentioned in my responses to your fans below, telephoning is not an option for me. Neither is traditional mail. So I went with the final option I could listed in your "Contact Us" sections: posing my questions to your "Community-Powered Support Network".

If there's one take away to this, I would like to suggest making auto-payments an opt-in program, not one I will have to opt-out of. And if you can't change that, at least tell me about the auto-payment program when I sign up to sponsor a child. It was never mentioned. 

Unfortunately, this auto-payment program is a breach of my trust with Compassion International. What other programs or payments will I find if I continue that I will have to opt-out of? For this reason I am actively discouraging my peers from supporting this organization. 

Thank you for your polite response, I sincerely hope your organization reviews the auto-register policy.
(Edited)
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Adam

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Susan, thank you for responding to this post in such a Christlike way just like you always do. As a volunteer in this support community, I've always tried to do the same but I'm getting very tired of seeing adults come onto this website and use it to vent their frustrations in a childish way only never to be heard from again. Sponsor Jon, this post is ridiculous and unnecessarily angry. Susan responded to your anger and frustration kindly, even though this situation is most certainly not her fault, and you received exactly what you wanted. Now you owe her an apology. Please apologize.
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Sponsor Jon

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I am no longer upset. I am humored, thanks to your hilarious response. Haha, thanks for the good laugh "Champion" Adam. 

Look, I'm not as old as you, you family man. I'm part of the younger generation Compassion desperately needs to woo to grow their sponsor base to meet the expansion they want to see. We are tech savvy, and incredibly unforgiving when it comes to signing us up for products or services that we never asked for. 

I've gone back to look for the responses Susan claims to have sent me and cannot find them in any inbox. They messed up my mailing address in Thailand, I wouldn't be surprised if they messed up my email address as well. And as for calling? Not only would I never call (I don't even call my friends!), I live internationally in a country with poor postal service and can only communicate through email.

In the end, their policy is bad. An automatic registration service is something I should have to opt into, not opt out of. 

I used to think they were doing good things, but after this bad experience, I am actively discouraging my peers from giving to this organization. We want to know what we're signing up for from the beginning, not figure this out afterward, and have to deal with "champions" like you telling us to apologize.
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Adam

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Sponsor Jon, I understand that you're upset about Compassion's automatic registration policies and you are certainly entitled to your opinion. My last post is not about Compassion's policies; it's not even necessarily about Compassion. It's about manners. Whenever you contact an organization, over the internet or otherwise, you are speaking to a person who works at that organization. Your reply to Susan above has a much more polite tone than your original post. The next time you contact a company or organization with a complaint, please start with that tone instead.
(Edited)
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Mary Lee Marshman

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Adam, Jon"s letter ranks right up there with the constant stream of letters from people who want to quit sponsoring these precious children. The amount of sponsors dropping out is so heartbreaking. Is there any way that the comments of those quitting the program can be hidden from others? Shouldn't they be contacting Compassion discretely and not advertising their financial troubles for everyone to see?
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Sponsor Jon

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Mary, hiding bad news and only keeping the good news is not a good practice, especially if there is a "constant stream" of them. If you are heartbroken by the amount of sponsors dropping out, perhaps finding out WHY they're dropping out is a better response than trying to hide the truth.

And please don't assume it's financial. That kind of offended me when you insinuated that I was advertising my "financial troubles" for everyone to see. I never mention financial difficulties in my post at all! I am actually doing quite fine financially, thank you very much. My hesitation to continue sponsorship came from a bad letter-receiving experience.

I was very willing to sponsor a child, it didn't have to be forced upon me the way it was. Now I discourage others from dealing with Compassion International. It's just really bad policy to make people have to opt out if they don't want to be signed up for more sponsorship.
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Adam

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Hi Mary Lee! I agree that it's heartbreaking any time that a sponsor has to cancel their sponsorship, but I also agree with Sponsor Jon that hiding certain comments and only keeping others is not a good practice. Compassion is a very transparent organization and does not try to hide anything, nor do they have any reason to. Virtually all of the sponsors who cancel their sponsorships through this support community do so for financial reasons. Compassion offers many different options to sponsors when it comes to contacting a Compassion representative, and many sponsors prefer to use this public forum. Thank you for your thoughtful response! Have a great weekend!
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Mary Lee Marshman

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My comment was not about Jon at all. It was about all those that are dropping out for financial reasons.
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KristenH, Champion

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Jon, I'm sorry to see the way this post has gone. You obviously have every right to choose to stop giving to any organization and shouldn't be made to feel badly for doing so. I do like that Compassion listens to sponsor input and they will take your experience and see how they could have made it better.
Have a blessed weekend Sponsor Jon.
-Kristen
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Susan

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I too am really saddened to see the way this post has gone. :(

Sponsor Jon, you are completely correct that hiding or deleting posts often makes situations worse. In this globalized digital world, Compassion has made a conscious decision to never attempt to hide or minimize feedback we receive. We have integrity and are honest when we have made a mistake. We have genuinely taken your feedback into consideration. 

Compassion wants to meet our supporters where they are at. With how widespread social media have become, it is no longer something that companies can ignore. For many people (myself included), social media is the channel that they prefer when contacting an organization. There is a time and a place to protect financial information but cancellations or frustrations with us as an organization are not something we are looking to hide. I will say that if you look at the overall sentiment of our social media channels, over 90% of all of the feedback we receive is positive. Because we receive so little negative feedback, we take it very seriously and look to improve our program through this feedback. 

I can understand that you are upset and you were simply expressing your frustration here. I have no problem with that and we are fully capable of receiving your criticism with grace. We recognize that as a donor, you have the right to choose which organization is worthy of your support. While I am very sorry that we have not met your expectations, you are entitled to go elsewhere. I believe that, since your sponsorship has been canceled, I have honored all of your requests. If not, or if you have further feedback for Compassion as an organization, please feel free to contact me directly at socialmedia@compassion.com
(Edited)
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Angelee

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This ministry is about being Jesus with skin on, and "taking care of the Widows and Orphans" ]. And, when we forget that... we forget the most important thing. When we are acting in Christ's love, things like this can be overlooked. I understand Jon was upset, but if Love was the motive of the whole conversation the it might not have gotten so out of hand. I wish Jon the best and the Love of the Lord to be with him.
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Mary Lee Marshman

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I am sad that my comment was taken differently than I meant it.  I have never seen an organization that encourages people to publicly comment when they wish to leave the organization or can no longer afford to be a sponsor.  I just thought that topic would be better suited for a phone call, but maybe you are trying to encourage others to step up when they see another child's sponsor leaving the program.  If I ever have to leave it, you'll get a phone call from me as I don't need everyone here to know about it.  My comment was never directed at Jon at all, he has a completely different issue.  I should have started a new comment for mine instead of putting it in Jon's.  For that, I am sorry, but I'm not sorry for my opinion and I wish people hadn't taken offense by it.
God bless all!
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Susan

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No offense taken, Mary! Thank you for sharing your feedback with us! :)

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