Saturday, May 28, 2011

Licence to Kill

Anyone know where I can get one - cause I'm so pissed off I could spit.

Ok a bit of background.

In the UK, the BBC gets its revenue from the fact that every household with a television, or any device that is capable of receiving television reception, has to have a tv licence. This funding means the BBC doesn't need advertising during its broadcasts which is very nice indeed.

But the licence costs £145.50 a year so a lot of people try and get away without buying one and over the years this has caused the licencing company to develop more and more advanced methods for catching them. The most widely used method is for them to use 'detector vans' to cruise around seeking out households watching TV with no licence and so sophisticated are they that they can even tell what channel you're watching.

But how do they know in advance which households haven't got licences ? Well for a start, every time you buy a TV, your details are passed to the licencing company. Over the years they have therefore built up a database of every household in the UK and whether or not they have a device capable of receiving television and this is where 'the problem' arises.

I may be demonising this database and its developers but in my mind anyway, based on years of experience, it simply isn't programmed to deal with a household that can exist in the UK without a licence and like some sort of avenging megabot, it's doing its best to rectify that situation.

For the last 10 years I've rung them before going to America for 6 months to inform them that I'll be away, no one will be in my house and can my licence be cancelled and a refund paid into my bank account for the unused months (I pay annually as I'm never sure if and when I'll be returning to America at the time of starting up the licence again).

Despite doing this and the refund appearing in my account a few days later, I always find a series of letters from them on my return. These are always addressed to 'The Occupier" and start mildly enough with a note that according to their records, I have no licence and what to do about it to avoid a fat penalty. As time, and these letters, go by, the tone gets more and more threatening and finally, after 4 or 5 months, the letter says someone will call at my house. Several times over the last decade (upon my return) I've found that someone HAS called at my house and left a note along the lines of "we told you we'd call so get a licence or else......."

I have rung them so many times to complain about all this but always come up against a woman who sounds like she's polishing her nails whilst talking to me. She always tells me that as long as correspondence from them is sent to "The Occupier" and not my name, then I can ignore it.

"So why send these letters when I've told you I'm not at home ?"

"It's the computer. It sends out letters to every house without a licence. Just ignore them."

"What a waste of resources and paper. Surely it can be programmed to deal with this ?"

"It's the computer. It sends out letters to every house without a licence. Just ignore them."

"I don't appreciate threatening letters AND someone coming to my house to hand deliver an even more threatening note."

"It's the computer. It........."


As they have no freephone number and have a website designed to not make it easy to email them, I'm left to accept this situation and I donno why it makes me so mad, but it does.

This year I've experienced a new twist. Yes I got the letters, although only 3 this time. No caller. Things getting better maybe ? Not a bit of it.

My first task on my return was to go online and get a new licence. No problem. Credit card....sorted. Got an email linking me to my new licence which I could print off if I wanted. No need, so that was it.

A week later, got a warning letter to "The Occupier". Our records show....etc etc.


So I ignored it of course.

Yesterday I was sitting watching the telle when a flyer type item was posted through my letter box. It wasn't pushed right through and so dangled part way in....another thing that pisses me off. As the postman had already been, I assumed it was a flyer for some local takeaway as I've been getting a ton of those recently. I never saw the deliverer as he went on down the street out of my view from my chair.

An hour later I was up and went to get the 'post' and saw this on the front..........

WTF x 2 ???

So this is what happens when someone calls. No knock. No fancy instrumentation proving I'm watching tv. And obviously no clue I've a licence !!! Just some low paid leaflet deliverer who is "only following orders, mate."

So that's why I'm pissed. I get letters when I haven't got a licence but have told them no one is here for 6 months. I'm now getting letters and callers despite HAVING a licence !

I know this isn't a battle I'm ever going to win as the TV licencing lot are obviously lazy, incompetent idiots who see no need to change their procedures. I was a computer analyst for most of my 27 year IT career and know it's not rocket science to update programs to make better use of the information held in databases. If this was done, they'd be able to factor in households that may have a television, but no residents for a period of time. Thousands of retired people leave the UK for winter like me. The paid for licence period could then be suspended and reactivated upon the resident's return to the house. No need for a refund.


Will they do it ? No.

Would it save money if they did ? Absolutely. Paper, postage and person.

Ironically I rarely watch a BBC station but when I do these days, the red mist begins to fall. No doubt, as in previous years, these feelings will subside as time goes by.

Unless the letters continue to arrive, that is. And if someone, low paid or not, drops another of those leaflets through my letter box, I'll follow the example of Mr. Burns......



Daphne said...

The steam is coming out of my ears as I read! I'd like to put a large heap of horse manure through the Big Licencing Boss Man's letterbox with his own little logo "I called". Infuriating!

Lisa said...

I think I would get a print of the license you purchased, circle the date you bought it, put it in an envelope with the "you don't have a license" letter, with the date circled, and post it back to them. See if they figure it out. I'm not convinced.

Jennyta said...

Some years ago, a friend of mine really didn't have a TV, nor did he want one but he went through similar problems, to the extent of having to show the 'official' who landed on his doorstep around the house to prove that he had no television. It's so much easier for them to stick with the status quo. After all, it's only our money their wasting!

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

And they wonder why their costs are rising! Do they also wonder if, in fact, the many 'licence dodgers' might actually have a licence (completely unknown to them despite the enormous papertrail of cancelled cheques, credit card receipts, acknowledgement emails and letters etc) and not be licence dodgers at all???

Just think. If it weren't for the incompetence of the licensing bods, the licence cost could probably be reduced to sixpence! Or something.

TV Licensing Online Support said...

Hi, we spotted your blogpost and wanted to apologise for the frustrations you've experienced. We are very keen to look into this for you and ensure you get the correct mailings in future. If you are able to send details to we will arrange for a member of our customer relations team to give you a call straight back.

TV Licensing Online Support

Jennyta said...

Amazing! I thought it was YP doing his posting under a psuedonym again till I clicked in the link! Big Brother is watching!!!

Most Recent Awards

Most Recent Awards