Licence not required

The background

I haven't watched TV at home for nearly 20 years. I haven't owned a TV for nearly 15 years. There was a time when we used to watch videos using a television, but we have long since moved to using DVDs and large computer monitors.

My house is situated in a location where it cannot receive a terrestial TV signal and there is no line of sight southwards, so satellite reception isn't possible. We are too far from the local telephone exchange to receive ADSL, and we are unlikely to get a fibre connection due to remoteness and population sparsity. As a consequence, our internet connection isn't fast enough to support live streaming, and we don't have enough monthly data allowance for catch up services like iPlayer.

How's it going to end

In short, even if I wanted to watch television, which I don't, it wouldn't be possible without spending vast sums of money to overcome the problems listed above. I did on several occasions try explaining this to TV Licensing, but to no avail. I was dealing with an automated system that assumes that everyone is watching TV and therefore requires a licence. I decided to just ignore the TV Licence letters, as I didn't see the point in wasting my time to inform them, yet again, that my situation hadn't changed.

The intimidation

After I ignored the first couple of letters it didn't take long for TV Licensing to start their intimidation. The letter dated November 2014 threatened:

"You did not respond to our last letter within the 10 days we gave you. This means we have had no option but to start an investigation of your address."

I didn't respond to the November letter, nor any of the others in the following months.

Scans of the unique letters I have received, can be viewed on this gallery. The pixelated sections on the scanned images are redacted address details and reference numbers.

The next month, December 2014, I received another letter, this time it stated:

"An Officer has been scheduled to visit [my postcode redacted] to find out if a TV is being watched or recorded illegally."

I never received any visits.

As regular as clockwork, or a computer program, I received another letter the next month, January 2015, which included the statement:

"Official warning: we have opened an investigation."

TV Licensing had already told me about the investigation starting in November 2014 so this letter is just in case I had forgotten about the previous intimidation. Another chance for them to try and collect the desired £145.50 BBC tax.

February 2015 and TV Licensing up the ante:

"You have not responded to our previous letters. We want to ensure you have the information you may need before a hearing is set at your local court."

The letter goes on to explain how I can "avoid a court summons". I didn't reply, and I never received a court summons.

The letter I received in March 2015 uses the same phrase as that used in December 2014:

"An Officer has been scheduled to visit [my postcode redacted] to find out if a TV is being watched or recorded illegally."

Opening section of sample TV Licensing letter

Opening section of a sample letter. Click here to view samples of other letters received.

As usual the letter is signed by Gordon Smith, but this time he is the Dundee Enforcement Manager, rather than Falkirk as in all the previous letters. Has Gordon had a promotion? Strangely some future letters have a Darlington address on them, almost as if offices in Falkirk and Dundee don't exist. I don't live anywhere near Falkirk or Dundee, and I suspect neither does Gordon.

I felt really put out as I didn't hear from Gordon in April, May or June and when I did get a letter in July 2015 it was back to the same old text about opening an investigation. However, I did notice that Gordon is now the Regional Enforcement Manager, so maybe he was too busy to write, with the added responsibility of yet another promotion.

The conclusions

I suspect I will never receive a visit from an inspector and nor will I ever receive a court summons. Visits by inspectors may happen in urban areas where they are more cost effective, but not in rural areas. The letters are specifically designed to intimidate those who don't have a licence, to buy one. Everything about TV Licensing is designed to create an aura of authority, and instill fear in those "evading" the TV tax. In the 1970s and 80s TV Licensing used to make much of the Detector Vans, but a recent Freedom of Information request disclosed that detection evidence has never been used in court. Even the name TV Licensing sounds more official, plus it allows the organisation behind it to protect the valuable BBC brand from being sullied by nasty tax collection.

TV Licensing asking for a date?

TV Licensing asking for a date? Click here to view samples of other letters.

I suspect I will continue to receive the intimadatory letters as they only cost around 21p each, and the potential return will be much more. The BBC contracts out the work of administering the TV Licensing system to Capita, a business which specialises in outsourced government projects.

The future

In George Osborne's latest budget (July 8th 2015) it was confirmed that a TV licence would be required for those watching television programmes via iPlayer, regardless of whether it was viewed live or afterwards (catch up). I haven't seen a technical discussion of how the BBC could check if people using iPlayer have a TV licence. TV licences currently are for properties and not individuals but the internet is something people take with them everywhere.

The last Labour government, at Westminster, introduced their plans for a national ID card system, which was later scrapped by the following Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition, but could the BBC be introducing something similar by the back door? As well as licensing every TV at home every laptop, tablet and smartphone would have to identify itself if accessing iPlayer. As a side effect the BBC and Capita would know what people are watching. It will be interesting to see how the BBC approach this difficult technical and ethical problem. I'm just glad I won't be part of it.

However, for the time being it would seem that there are no plans to introduce a system similar to that in Germany, where the broadcasters are funded through taxation regardless of whether or not you use television.

I will update this blog should there be any further developments.


 

Updates

Update: August 12th 2015 - another "what to expect in court" letter arrives.

Update: September 9th 2015 - another "you have left us with no alternative but to proceed with the final stages of our investigation" letter arrives. It would appear I have now received the full gamut of threatening letters as several have been duplicates. However, there doesn't seem to be a pattern nor a logical progression i.e. increasing threat level. Instead they seem to be in a random order.

Update: November 5th 2016 - new style letter received which mentions iPlayer. The letter also comes in an envelope with two windows: one for the address and the other for a calendar with your "visit" date circled in red. The Postie now gets to know you don't have a TV licence.

Update: November 24th 2016 - except for April, May & June 2015 I have received a letter from TV Licensing  ever single month. I am only listing letters, in the table of thumbnails above, if they have new content.

Update: February 24th 2017 - Woo hoo! A new style letter arrives which has an envelope with two windows: one to display your address and another to display the date when an inspector is going to visit you. I'll need to make sure I am at home on March 6th. This new letter is also noteworthy due to the fake "visit approved" stamp on the letter. To make the gimmick even more cheap the stamp has a fake signature. Keep it classy, TV Licensing.

Update: April 22nd 2017 - Another new style letter with a cut-out section in the envelope to display the date that the letter was "issued". Letter starts with two sentences in a large, emboldened font stating: "You know. We Know". TV Licensing now hinting at 1984 style Big Brother powers.

Update: January 25th 2018 - One of the typical letters arrived today but the red envelope was a new development. Added an image to the TV Licensing gallery.

Update: February 24th 2018 - TVL seem to be limiting their innovation to the envelopes (latest one added to the gallery), the letter content remains the same.

Update: April 21st 2018 - Another new style envelope, and also a letter with new content. Letter boasts that TVL have a database containing details on the UK's 32 million addresses. Letter begins with the sinister: "You know. We know." Letter and envelope added to the gallery.

Update: November 30th 2018 - Similar letter, but with new style rear FAQ page added to the gallery.

Update: February 25th 2019 - "Local investigation active..." letter added to the gallery.

Update: February 24th 2020 - After exactly a year, a new style letter makes its appearance. "Your IN01O0A4" A new approach by TVL; an invented, and mysterious, code to make their threats even more intimidating. Letter added to the gallery.


Comments

Oliver 6 years ago

Brilliant someone in the same situation! I found this while searching for Mr Smith's phone number, would like to give him a piece of my mind!

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Tom 5 years, 7 months ago

Looks like Gordon Smith's had another promotion - he's now (April 2016) the Enforcement Manager for Edinburgh. I'm now at the exciting "what to expect in court" stage, although they skipped the "scheduled visit" stage for me. I live very centrally so it seems they don't bother following through on threats, even in urban areas.

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James 5 years, 6 months ago

same letters here.... except gordon is enforcement manager, glasgow division

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John 5 years, 6 months ago

Just moved into a new build flat, have no TV, internet switched on 5 days ago and I'm already at the "final stages of our investigation" letter.

Continuing the game of Happy Families, who's got Phil Carvill, Enforcement Manager, London North?

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Gordon Smith 5 years, 5 months ago

It seems that Gordon Smith probably works part time in various locations in Scotland. I wonder if he has time to watch TV... probably he does not need TV license...

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fitheach 5 years, 3 months ago

Hey, just noticed... it was nice of you to pop round and leave a comment, Gordon. How are all the jobs/promotions going?

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David 5 years, 1 month ago

I got a newer variant in the post today. "We visit 10,743 addresses a day. Is yours next?". Gordon Smith is still the enforcement officer, but now the printed letter has a faux rubber-stamp "Enforcement Officer - Visit Approved" and 'signed' by a J Hales, in faux handwriting, though the effect is spoiled if you look closely enough to see it's printed as part of the letter, like everything else. This latest missive takes pains to point out all the ways that you could need a license if you use iPlayer or whatever.

From the BBC's own stats, in 2014/2015, there were 26.9 million licensable properties, compared with 25.6 licenses. Do the arithmetic, and that means they should be visiting each unlicensed property about once every 125 days. Even allowing for working days, us refuseniks should be expecting at least a visit a year. As it is, the annual review suggested they visited 3.5 million properties, which suggests that they're regularly visiting homes with a license, for some reason. Go figure.

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fitheach 5 years, 1 month ago

Aw, shucks. I haven't received one of these new style letters and the faux rubber stamp is the icing on the cake. I wonder if all of the template letters will be updated to include the new information on iPlayer. I will update this page if I receive a new style letter.

I hardly ever see comments online from people who have had a visit from TV Licensing. If TVL were doing as many visits as described I would have thought discussion of encounters would be much more common.

Thanks for the info, David.

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Dave 5 years, 1 month ago

Gordon is still at it, but he is now "Enforcement Officer, Edinburgh". I have moved into a flat for work, during the week, and I have a paid licence at my house where I do watch TV. This is clearly to complicated for them to understand. I cannot, and will not, watch TV in my flat - no TV aerial, and no land phone line for downloading, and only a weak mobile contact for brief internet Skypes to my family.

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fitheach 5 years, 1 month ago

Just stick with it, Dave. If you don't watch TV broadcasts and don't use iPlayer to watch live TV there is no requirement to have a TV licence. TV licenses, in most cases, apply per household. If you have multiple TV enabled devices in one household they will all be covered by the one household licence. If you have another property where you watch TV then you need another licence for that abode.

I don't think TV Licensing cope with complicated situations; from their perspective there are properties with a license and those without, that's it. In the past you could write to TV Licensing and inform them you didn't require a TV and they wouldn't bother you for a while. I don't know if it still works that way. I just got fed up having to contact them on a regular basis when my situation hadn't changed in 20 years and never will change.

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Mr man 5 years ago

Colin bright newcastle manager. Oct 2016. (Another) Enforcement letter starts with 3 questions -
"no tv licence?"
"Prosecution?"
"Up to £1,000 fine?"
Bla,blah,blah.
"So this is an official warning as there is no record of a licence at your address..
Im curious to the "Scottish law applies" smallprint at the bottom, as i live in Northumberland. .

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fitheach 5 years ago

@ Mr Man
When I saw your comment my first thought was: "Newcastle Manager" isn't that Rafael Benítez?
After some Internet searches I discovered that "Colin Bright" is the Gordon Smith for the North of England, allegedly covering: Newcastle, Sheffield, Leeds, Hull and probably lots of other places too.

I'm curious about the "Scottish Law Applies" small print too. Are TV Licensing under the misapprehension that everything north of Hadrian's Wall is in Scotland? If so, that would be remarkable. Companies sometimes explicitly state the jurisdiction to be used for disputes in their terms & conditions but that wouldn't seem to be appropriate for TV Licensing. It seems very odd to me.

If you don't watch TV broadcasts or don't require a TV Licence, for other reasons, just ignore the letter.

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Nick 5 years ago

I was wondering, is it actually legal to send this letters with blatent lies on? I mean, if the people mentioned on the letters don't actually exist (I'm looking at you Mr Smith), and the content is fictitious, isn't that illegal?!

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fitheach 5 years ago

@Nick
Erm, I'm not sure if it is illegal to invent people. I suppose companies could argue that they aren't trying to deceive but only doing it for administrative purposes. Furthermore, I can't think of any law that makes it an offence to invent someone unless it is done, for example, for the purposes of fraud. Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer.

I do find it odd however that Mr. Smith, and Mr Blight, have such wide remits.

As for the content of the letters I think TV Licensing purposely make their proposed actions indefinite by prefixing with "may" or "might". Some people receiving the letters however will look past the qualifiers and act on the supposed threat. That said, I have read online of some households being visited by inspectors so that threat isn't entirely bogus.

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Phil Carvill 5 years ago

Chaps, I've just moved West! Kept the title of Enforcement Manager though ;)

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fitheach 5 years ago

@Phil
Come off it, Phil, we don't believe you exist. Only Gordon Smith exists (Agent Smith?). In fact, Gordon is the only employee of TV Licensing.

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James 5 years ago

Just got your letter yesterday Phil, Mr enforcement manager London East... It seems you've opened an investigation because I don't watch telly, I'm looking forward to your visit because I'll abuse and harass your man the same as you've done to me for the last 10 years. I'll film it this time because the last visit 5 years ago was hilarious, hiding to try and catch me then running away when I confronted him. Jokers.

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fitheach 5 years ago

@James
Please don't harass and abuse the TV Inspector, they are just doing a job and aren't resposible for the crass letters sent out by TV Licensing. By all means be firm and get your point across that you don't watch TV and don't require a licence. If you want to get back at TV Licensing it would be much better to write to a local or national newspaper to complain about being threatened. Threatening letters probably work because people aren't aware that thet are just churned out by computer. Shine a light on the practice and suddenly they become a lot less successful.

You might also want to check the situation regarding filming your encounter as it might, for instance, infringe the Data Protection Act. Try asking for advice on a photography forum, someone there might be familiar with the legal situation.

I don't mean to be negative but forewarned is forearmed.

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Colin B 4 years, 10 months ago

I don't have a firearms certificate.( I don't need one because I don't actually own a firearm). However, I don't seem to be harassed by fictional people on a monthly basis demanding that I buy a firearms certificate. No-one to my knowledge has opened up an investigation or threatened to take me to court because I don't have a firearms certificate.

Wouldn't it be ludicrous if someone arrived at the door without a search warrant asking if they could come into my house to look for evidence that I have a shotgun? The reason they want to come into my house to find this firearm is because I told them I don't have one---in other words they are accusing me of lying.

Imagine they keep up this harassment, writing monthly threatening letters from someone who clearly does not exist. Even if I did relent and let this inspector invade my privacy to look for this fictitious gun that I don't own, I'd have to endure this humiliating search every two years until I finally break down and buy a firearms certificate for a gun I don't have. Only THEN, would they leave me alone. I question the legality of this approach, they ( firearms certificate investigators) would be breaking the law. Fraud, extortion and harassment used to extract money from someone who isn't breaking the law.

RIDICULOUS HUH? THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME. I HAVEN'T HAD A TELEVISION FOR OVER TEN YEARS. NO INTEREST IN IT.YOU COULD OFFER ME A FREE PLASMA SCREEN TV, FREE SATELLITE PACKAGE AND I STILL WOULDN'T BE INTERESTED. THERE IS LIFE BEYOND TV!!

Own a TV, buy a licence. I get that, I agree, it's the law. Don't own a TV and you are treated like a criminal. Is this supposed to be a free country?

The only way I will let an inspector into my house is if Gordon Smith turns up himself with a search warrant. In the meantime, I shall continue ignoring these idle threats, happy in the knowledge that it is costing the BBC more that the licence fee in man hours and resource etc to pursue this pointless crusade of theirs.

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S Wells 4 years, 9 months ago

Delighted to see that the Scottish end of the business are equal opportunity harassers. We got a "signed" letter from Alison Roberts, starting "We understand you may be busy...". Well yes, which is why we don't have a chuffing TV. Have phoned them or completed the form online 9 times now to say we don't have a TV, will never have one and only spend about 10 weeks a year at the little holiday cottage they are writing to, which only just has electricity, no TV signal and no TV of any kind. We still get threatening letters. I literally can't be arsed now, so will ignore all the letters. Looking forward to the next letter - I'm hoping I can collect the full set!

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fitheach 4 years, 9 months ago

@S Wells
Alison Roberts will need to be added to the rogues gallery along with: Gordon, Phil, Colin and J Hales.

"We understand you may be busy...", dang, I don't think I've received that one. You're right collecting the full set could be the new hobby sweeping the country.

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fitheach 4 years, 9 months ago

@Colin
The assumption is that every household owns a TV, which will be close to the truth. It is annoying for us "non-conformists" who receive regular letters from TV Licencing even though we have no intention of using a television. As large scale business post is very much cheaper than buying a second class stamp it must be cost affective for TV Licencing to churn them out.

I have to admit it would be cool if Gordon turned up at my door, I'd even invite him in.

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Alan Hodge 4 years, 9 months ago

Does anyone else find that the BBC kicking Capita is a bit rich. given they creat and compose all.the letters refered to. and Pippa Doubtfire of the BBC oversees Capita and her mate Alison Roberts. They must have loads of offices Capita as mine came from Preston Enforcement. Also all the letters come from TV Licensing, which the BBC says is only a Trademark and not a Legal Entity, has anyone found any information on the latters to say its either Capita or the BBC, and the FOI at the BBC is dragging its feet in explaining why they and Capita dont have to comply with normal business law. Thanks for the interesting posts. N.B I note the Daily Mail is now believing the guff from Tony Hall about how outraged the the BBC is by Capitas actions, when we all know theyve known and condoned it for years

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fitheach 4 years, 9 months ago

@Alan
Thanks for bringing up the Daily Mail investigation of TV Licensing business practises. In particular, the investigation highlighted the payment of incentives to the TV inspectors. For anyone else wanting to read the article here is an archived copy of it:

http://archive.is/PmvPS

Whatever the truth of the situation between Capita & the BBC, I'm sure the latter were quite happy with the extra few hundred million pounds that was collected.

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Alan Hodge 4 years, 9 months ago

A pal of mine was a retired Merseyside Bobby,he went to do the Capita Course with a view to doing that job. He walked out in disgust as they were using phrases like 'nick' and 'collar' offenders. This was years ago. He challenged them saying they clearly thought they were police of some sort. If you look at early day motions in parliament, the BBC have been aware and condone the methods used and this makes Hall's comments more annoying than ever.

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Alan Hodge 4 years, 9 months ago

Pleasure, early day motions, 1289,2429,1188 there are others.

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fitheach 4 years, 9 months ago

@Alan
Aye, they'll be giving the licence inspectors uniforms next!

I didn't see the early day motion, do you have a link? Something in Hansard or Parliament TV would be really good. Handy for the readers and me.

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Alan Hodge 4 years, 9 months ago

Hello, tried the link I gave and it comes up wrong. got website and on edm search put
2010 to 2012. motion 2429.
then 2006 to 2007 motion 1188,
and 2006 to 2007 1289

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fitheach 4 years, 9 months ago

@Alan
Thanks for further info. I had tried the EDM section of website and couldn't find the ones you had mentioned. I hadn't gone back as far as 2012 and earlier. I will go and look now. Parliament website lists the EDMs by ID number but the counter is reset to zero every year so there is a 1188 for 2016 and 2015 and 2014 etc. They should prefix with a year code.

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Alan Hodge 4 years, 9 months ago

Andrew Brigden MP, does not like the BBC either,
I have asked the BBC under the FOI for infirmation as to why the BBC and Capita are able to send out miss leading letters from a Company that dies not exist (TV Licensing) and why they are exempt from Revealing thier Company information which is normaly required under Kaw. They took the 20 days allowed,extended it to 40days and tiday we are on 61 Days, clearly im going to get a load of guff if a reply ever comes.

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Alan Hodge 4 years, 9 months ago

Sorry about the big fingers and small keypad

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IrishAido 4 years, 8 months ago

I had an unexpected buzz on my flat an hour ago. Thinking it was an Amazon delivery, I picked up the door phone.

TV Licence Sales Rep "Is this X flat?"
Me "Um.....yes"
TV Licence Sales Rep "This is the TV licence authority. Can you let me in"

At which point somebody else came on the line. In our apartment block you can hear other tenants pick up and answer to the gate if the person at the gate has buzzed numerous flats. I told him that it was for me and I would deal with it

So we continues

TV Licence Sales Rep "Yes, I am from the TV licensing authority. Can you please let me in. We need to speak to you
Me "Oh ok, I can let you in, but I don't live here. I am cat sitting
TV Licence Sales Rep "I am sorry.....can you repeat that please
Me "I'm cat sitting. I don't own this flat. The occupants work shift work. I think they might home tonight at 8 or so
TV Licence Sales Rep "8pm you say?
Me "I think so. I don't really know them. I just mind the cats
TV Licence Sales Rep "Oooh...ok. Can you let me in so I can leave a letter in their letter box
Me "Sure. Is there a message I can pass on
TV Licence Sales Rep "No I will leave a letter in their box"
Me "Ok"

No letter was left in the box

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fitheach 4 years, 8 months ago

@IrishAido
It doesn't surprise me. If you read the article I linked to above (comment on 2017-02-28) you will see that the inspectors only have about 15 minutes allocated to each household they visit. If they spend more time than this they won't achieve their "sales" target. Talking to the catsitter probably wasted 10 minutes of his allocation. The inspector probably moved on and frightened some poor granny somewhere.

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Alan Hodge 4 years, 7 months ago

Hi, me again. To help qith an ongoing Court Case.
Would anyone out there agree with the BBC 's Defence that thier letters are enquiry based.
Thanks

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fitheach 4 years, 7 months ago

@Alan
I would be happy to help out but I'm not sure I understand what information you require. I have seen the BBC use the term "enquiry letters" in several responses quoted online, for example:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/374081/response/911325/attach/html/3/RFI20162257%20Response.pdf.html

I would consider the letters sent to non-licence payers to be threatening and intimadating, with the sole purpose of maximising licence fee collection.

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S Wells 4 years, 6 months ago

Hello again, delighted to see that the TV licensing people are still hard at work. Does anyone know the address for the superstar ENFORCER Gordon Smith? I want to send him a love letter (no really - I've tried every other kind of letter and now I'm going to ask him why he won't leave his wife for me and whether the lure of her over 75 free license can really be so much more than what he and I shared). Thanks in advance! :)

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fitheach 4 years, 6 months ago

@ S Wells :-)
Good point about the address. Very few of the letters have any kind of reply address and when they do it is a bit brief: Darlington DL98 1TL. So, Gordon Smith the sometimes Falkirk Enforcement Officer and at other times the Dundee Enforcement Officer is "based" in Darlington.

I wonder if Gordon, and the other TV Licensing Enforcers, ever get cited in divorce proceedings. After all it is a convenient excuse when you need to explain away the presence of lots of strange men/women appearing at your door, day and night.

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CandySu 4 years, 5 months ago

Not usually one to brag but the latest letter from our friends came today in a pretty red envelope. Oddly enough it still went in the bin as easy as the others

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fitheach 4 years, 5 months ago

@CandySu
Does that make it a *red letter* day?

I feel that I am turning into a collector or completist; I must have one of these red letters for my collection.

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Billy Jean 4 years, 3 months ago

I just thought you might like to know that Jane Jeffers is now also sending out letters, she's the Enforcement Manager from Preston apparently

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fitheach 4 years, 3 months ago

@Billy
I wonder if the names that go on the enforcement letters are real people or a figment of someone's imagination. If Ms. Jeffers exists she is probably based at Darlington just like her colleague Gordon Smith.

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Gordon Smith 4 years, 1 month ago

You Know. We know.

You think these letters are bad? If you fail to pay up I'll have no choice but to launch a "full and final" investigation with so many letters you'll mistake if for the opening scene to Harry Potter.

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fitheach 4 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for dropping by again, Gordon.
You seem to have forgotten you have sent me dozens of "opening an investigation" and "final" letters already.
As for payment, you can whistle for it. ;-)

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fitheach 4 years, 1 month ago

@Bill
Have you got a link for "two letters = harassment" statement? Not being facetious, would love it to be true.

A good few years ago I used to respond to TV Licencing letters to tell them that I didn't require a licence. The letters would then stop for a while. However, I soon tired of wasting my time informing TV Licencing of a negative. Like many other people I find the presumption that *everyone* watches TV to be most annoying.

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bill 4 years, 1 month ago

Hi all,

Just received the latest letter today, and found this blog while googling hharassment'.

Had a visit a month or two ago , from a 'tv licence man' - nice as pie, asked if i had a license, explained i have no tv and no wish to watch anything on one. He wandered off seemingly satisfied, but letters keep arriving and will, as usual, be ignored.

At some point this must be illegal harassment (I believe two unwarranted letters are sufficient in law to suggest harassment) anyone tested this?

Bill - who really does not watch tv.

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bill 4 years, 1 month ago

Fitheach,

The relevent statute is the Prevention of harassment act 1997 (its on the .gov site somewhere) . They may be relying on section 3a or b that is a getout if the action is to prevent or detect crime but, section 2 is clear about prior knowledge , i.e. if they know you are not about to break the law (because you cannot) then it would be hard for them to argue they are pursuing you about a crime.

Usual caveat - I am not a lawyer. (might be worth asking your home insurance if they'll cover a claim or at least give you a few minutes of free legal advice).

Bill

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Winston Smith 4 years ago

Arrived here via an internet search, enjoyed reading the comments. Gordon's back in Falkirk according to my letter received today and I've 10 days to stump up. I filled in the requisite online declaration a couple of years ago and was prompted to renew my exempt status earlier this year. Having done so, the letters started. They don't appear to consult their own database as the earlier ones asked me to register online which I've already done. The letters don't bother me much but it is a waste of everyone's time.

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fitheach 4 years ago

@Bill

There is a good Wikipedia article giving a synopsis of the Act:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protection_from_Harassment_Act_1997

The Wikipedia article quotes some definitions of harassment which are mainly a fear of physical violence or breaching of injunctions or restraining orders. Would nuisance letters from TV Licencing count? But hey-ho, I'm not a lawyer either!

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fitheach 4 years ago

@Winston Smith
Do you need a TV licence for Big Brother's Telescreen?

As TV Licensing is a commercial operation I guess the "reminder" letters must provide a profitable return. At least it keeps your Postie in a job.

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Legal Occupier 6359008527 3 years, 10 months ago

Well done everyone!
I really enjoyed reading all your comments and experiences. Today I received the latest TV Licensing letter, from Gordon Smith Enforcement Manager, Motherwell. His travel expenses must come to quite a bit.

As from today, they are giving me 10 days to get correctly licensed.

I AM CORRECTLY LICENSED!
I don't have a TV or watch TV in any licensable form, so I do not need a TV Licence. There is NO obligation on me to respond to their letters and threats, let alone when it will cost me money to do so, and they say they will send a enforcement officer anyway, to check up. Not here they won't

I have retained all my letters from July 2010

the managers were :

July and Dec 2010 - Joanne Osborne
May 2012 - Carl Shimeild
July 2012 - back to Joanne Osborne
Jan 2013 - Jane Jeffers
July 2013 - anonymous, not signed
Jan, July 2014, April 2015 - Back to Jane Jeffers
now they upped the stakes!
March 2016 - Jackie Garswood
March 2016 again - Alison Roberts
April 2016 - Jane Jeffers
May, Oct, 2016 - Gordon Smith (Motherwell)
January 2017 - Jackie Garswood
Feb 2017 - Alison Roberts
March 2017 - Gordon Smith
May, November 2017 - Anonymous, unsigned
December 2017 - Jackie Garswood
December 2017 again - Jane Jeffers
January 2018 - Gordon Smith

The deadline for me to get correctly licensed is 1st February, helpfully red-circled in the latest letter.
If I don't contact them by then (at MY EXPENSE) they will start a full investigation. Sounds great.

I can hardly wait.

Chas

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fitheach 3 years, 10 months ago

@Legal Occupier aka Chas

Legal Occupier? I keep getting mail addressed to you.

Well done on keeping all these letters since 2010, that puts my puny efforts to shame!

Got to say I feel a bit left out, I've only ever received letters from Gordon Smith. I was never any good at collecting Panini cards either.

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Legal Occupier 6359008527 3 years, 10 months ago

Thanks.
I see I have had a variety of reference numbers over the years.

I may employ a cryptanalyst to try to decipher these numbers - or tell me they are simply a VERY IMPORTANT looking OFFICIAL number that might be USED IN COURT!

Roll on the day.

Chas

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fitheach 3 years, 10 months ago

@Legal Occupier aka Chas

"I am not a number! I am a free man!"

Well, you might be until shortly after your court appearance.

Before your court appearance you will have an official visit from and Enforcement Officer. Enjoy!

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Legal Occupier 6359008527 3 years, 10 months ago

Whooppee! Another January 2018 letter.

"Warning; This unlicensed business address is being investigated."

Sent by our fictitious chum Gordon Smith, Enforcement Manager, Motherwell.

I will NOT expend time or money telling anyone I do not need to be licensed for anything.

I wish they would get on with it.

Chas

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fitheach 3 years, 10 months ago

@Legal Occupier

I'll have you know that Gordon is an extremely hard working, and conscientious, guy who has to hold down several jobs in several locations, just to earn a meagre crust.

"Warning; This unlicensed business...", oh, so TVL take a similar approach to businesses as they do to domestic premises. Is your letter otherwise similar to the letters I have received?

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Legal Occupier 6359008527 3 years, 10 months ago

It looks like a back to the start level letter, though the REALLY SCARY words "Official Investigation" appear in the top right corner.

On the back is a little form they ask me to fill out and send back - at MY cost of time and money.

They hope I will tell them my title, initial, last name, Job Title, telephone, email, and business name and address.

They can dream, I suppose.

Chas

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fitheach 3 years, 10 months ago

@Legal Occupier

Thanks for that info. Huh, the letter is partly a fishing expedition for extra data so they can bother you for evermore. Good to hear you are treating it with the disdain it deserves.

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Legal Occupier 6359008527 3 years, 10 months ago

This latest letter came with an addressed reply envelope.
Where the stamp is supposed to go appears the words "You need to use a stamp".
I absolutely disagree.
What is the obligation on me that I need to do anything, let alone spend my money on a stamp?
The envelope was sealed with the envelope it came in placed inside it.
This enables them to re-cycle their unsolicited mail, thus saving the planet.
As I was going past the PO letter-box, I posted it.

Chas

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fitheach 3 years, 10 months ago

@Legal Occupier

Ha ha! You'll definitely be getting a visit now. ;-)
Did you score out your number (6359008527) and the likely barcode?

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Legal Occupier 6359008527 3 years, 10 months ago

No I didn't hide the numbers.
Why would I do that?
I have nothing to hide.

They can visit if they can find me.
But they can't come in.

Chas

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fitheach 3 years, 10 months ago

@Legal Occupier

I wasn't suggesting you had anything to hide, I just had the impression you posted the letter without a stamp.

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Legal Occupier 6359008527 3 years, 10 months ago

They sent me an envelope with their address on it.
Presumably this is because they wish me to post their envelope back to them.
That is what I do, every time they send me such an envelope.
I leave it to them to negotiate with the post office about any postal charges.

Chas

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fitheach 3 years, 10 months ago

@Legal Occupier

:-)

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Legal Occupier 6359008527 3 years, 10 months ago

TELE-TAX

I was pleased to hear this morning that CAPITA, the money-grubbing mob which runs TV Licence Tax collection, is in financial bother, and has issued a "profits warning".

This often means (as with Carillion) that they are, or are close to, insolvent - i.e. BUST, aka BANKRUPT.

Capita's share value collapsed by 40% this morning when this news was released.

What a shame . . . they have my every sympathy . . . believe me . . .

Chas

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fitheach 3 years, 10 months ago

@Legal Occupier

I saw that this morning and their TVL business was the first thing I thought of too.

Looking at their profit to turnover ratio on Wikipedia it looks as if they have been sliding downwards for a good few years:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capita#Financial_performance

I find it difficult to understand how a business with so many government contracts can let their profitability slide so badly. After the collapse of Carillion I can imagine why investors are feeling jittery.

I hope Gordon Smith is going to be all right.

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Legal Occupier 6359008527 3 years, 10 months ago

Heavens Yes,

Poor Gordon Smith,

And let's not overlook
Joanne Osborne,
Cal Shimeild,
Jane Jeffers,
Jackie Garswood,
Alison Roberts,
and all the other fictitious characters in this long-running saga.

Chas

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Legal Occupier 6359008527 3 years, 10 months ago

It is now the month of February, and I have not yet received my monthly missive from Capita.

I am beginning to worry that Capita's recent woes might mean that the ficticious Gordon Smith, Joanne Osborne, Carl Shimeild, Jane Jeffers, Jackie Garswood and Alison Roberts might be at risk of imaginary redundancy.

It is a troubled world we live in.

Chas

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fitheach 3 years, 10 months ago

@Legal Occupier

Did you receive a red letter in January?
I did:
https://fitheach.co.uk/galleries/tv-licensing-letters/

Perhaps TVL are reserving their energies for your imminent "home visit" or maybe there has been a dip in productivity due to concerns about the profits slump. Mr. Smith is probably using his Sunday rest day to hone his CV. I wonder if there are many openings for people who have skills in sending intimidating letters. HMRC is one that springs to mind.

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Legal Occupier 6359008527 3 years, 9 months ago

Got my February 2018 letter this morning.

In red
Your Status - Visit Scheduled
Your address has been scheduled for a visit by an Enforcement Officer.

Apparently " . . . they will interview you under caution and this could be used as evidence in court."

BUT ! !

You still have a chance to avoid this visit.

And all the usual nonsense.

However, it is gratifying to note that our chum Gordon Smith is clinging on to his position as Enforcement manager, Motherwell.

The letter is added to my ever-growing pile.

Chas

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fitheach 3 years, 9 months ago

@Legal Occupier

Ha, ha, they must have got a bulk order of red envelopes.

The "under caution" line has been a standby for a few years, at least (my first scanned letter from November 2014 used this phrase). Perhaps, to extend the analogy when you get your visit, there will be two of them and they will do the good cop/bad cop routine.

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Legal Occupier 6359008527 3 years, 9 months ago

They may come, and as soon as they say who they are I will tell them to leave my property forthwith, which failing, for reasons that I don't care to tell them, I will call the police.

That's when I close my mouth and my door.

There is no reason why I should engage in any conversation with agents of a body collecting taxes that I am not in any way obliged to pay.

Later this year, this property will qualify for a FREE TV licence. There will still be no application for a TV Licence, for the one very obvious reason.

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fitheach 3 years, 9 months ago

@Legal Occupier

Free TV licence? Someone got a significant birthday coming up?

Thought I had received another TVL letter today, but I was gutted to discover it was an offer for a free PPI check. Strange the things that are the highlights of the month ;-)

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Catherine 3 years, 9 months ago

Good evening - may I join in?

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Catherine 3 years, 9 months ago

Glad to find this as it's just started for me

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Catherine 3 years, 9 months ago

Good evening

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Legal Occupier 6359008527 3 years, 9 months ago

Hi Catherine,
Welcome to "the club".

It is more than 25 years since I had a TV set, or watched live TV (or recorded TV) in any form.
I don't miss it, and life is definitely possible without it. I get lots of things done.

There is no point in responding to the TV Licensing system. That does nothing other than to encourage them to bully you more, because they now know a live person is at that address. They have only one objective - to make you pay. They don't care if you have a TV or not - they just want to make you pay ; and then they get their commissions.

If you are not in a situation that the law says you should pay, my advice is this :

1. Do not respond to them in any shape, way or form.
2. Get a big clip, and save every letter they send you.
3. If they actually do appear at the door, politely ask them to leave, and close the door. Don't engage in any discussion, and DO NOT LET THEM IN.
4. If ANYONE coming to your door starts bullying you to get in against your will, use your phone right away and call the police. Or SCREAM REALLY LOUD if there are neighbours who might hear.

If you, like me and Fitheach, are not in the situation of being subject to TV Licensing requirements, then you should not be harassed on a monthly basis by a commercial company working on commission, sending out computer-generated letters making inane threats, and using false names.

File their letters, and ignore them. Enjoy the peace and quiet of a TV-Free life!

Chas

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Catherine 3 years, 9 months ago

Thank you!

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Legal Occupier 6359008527 3 years, 8 months ago

My March 2018 letter arrived this morning.
The envelope (now binned) had a panel on the front showing the words

"Will you be in on 28th March?"

Let's be honest - first, I have no plans as yet for that day, and second, even if I had, that is none of their business.

Then, the first sentence of the letter says ". . . you should expect a visit from an Enforcement Officer".

"expect" . . . no, I don't expect it. My level of expectation is vanishingly small.

The very next words are
"it may be on 28th March or on another day . . ."

So, one wonders why their opening gambit was to ask me if I would be in on 28th March.

Then there's the usual nonsense, and the final sentence is

"If you do not do any of the above, you can expect a visit soon."

The letter is marked with a brown faux rubber-stamp
"Enforcement Officer visit approved",
and a blue faux "SIG - J Hales".

As far as I can see, J Hales is a new character in this long-running farce.

However, I know you will all be pleased to learn that our fictitious chum Gordon Smith retains his fictitious job, having signed the letter in his fictitious capacity as Enforcement Manager, Motherwell.

The letter is now added to the clip with all the rest, for no further action on my part.

Chas

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fitheach 3 years, 8 months ago

@Legal Occupier

It does seem a strange turn of phrase; to first ask if you are in on a particular date and then state the visit may be a different day. Perhaps they don't want to give the impression they are setting an appointment.

In a similar vein I received a reminder from DVLA to tax my car. At the top of the reminder letter, in big letters, was the phrase: "Tax it or lose it". I wonder if DVLA and TVL employees get trained on intimidation at the same place.

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Legal Occupier 6359008527 3 years, 8 months ago

I tried to send a comment earlier today, but it hasn't appeared yet.

The capcha sum thing NEVER works first time for me, and this time it seems it may not have worked at all.

I will try again now.

Chas

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Legal Occupier 6359008527 3 years, 8 months ago

Well, that serves me right.
It worked.

My scheduled visit did not happen yesterday, despite me waiting in all day for the experience.

It is the height of rudeness, but typical, that these people don't do as they say.

So, it looks as if I shall have to wait for my April letter.

Which one will it be?

Chas

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fitheach 3 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, I know the captcha thing is annoying but without them, and some other preventative measures, the blog would be inundated with spam. The captcha probably fails for you initially because it is set to be valid for short period only (another anti-spam measure). When you re-load the page, the timer on the captcha is reset. I'll look into making some changes to improve the commenting.

I'm gutted for you that you didn't get your visit. I would guess the dates given in the letters are made up, just like Gordon Smith's job titles.

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Chas 3 years, 8 months ago

I wonder how Catherine is getting on?

Keep in touch Catherine!

Chas

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Chas 3 years, 7 months ago

Hi,

I must be due my April letter any day now.

Exciting, huh?

Chas

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fitheach 3 years, 7 months ago

I received my April letter yesterday, and I could hardly contain my excitement when I realised it had a new style. TV Licencing are now boasting about having a database containing records for all 32 million addresses in the UK.

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Winston Smith 3 years, 7 months ago

@fitheach

Where's Gordon?

In Dundee apparently.

The latest missive has a lovely touch; it starts "You know. We Know.", and my immediate thought was, yes I do but you only think you know. It also mentions the database and if they cared to consult theirs, they would find my current valid declaration that I do not require a license. I found an email record of this recently; it declares "You won’t receive any letters or emails from us until just before your declaration expires.". I've probably had 20 letters since then.

I'm tempted to splurge for a second class stamp and post them a copy.

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fitheach 3 years, 7 months ago

@Winston
Sounds like the exact same letter I received:
https://fitheach.co.uk/static/media/uploads/galleries/tv-licensing-letters/tv-licence-2018-04b.jpg

When did you have the email communication from TVL? Back in the dim and distant past, I informed TVL that I didn't need a TV licence, after which they didn't bother me again for for a period of about two years. Now that the BBC has to scrape by on just £3.8 billion, perhaps TVL get back in touch much sooner.

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Chas 3 years, 7 months ago

I feel deprived, ignored.
It is now 23rd April and I have not received my monthly missive.

I heard on the radio news (I don't get to see the TV news) that Capita is a bit short of petty cash. About 500 million pounds short. Capita's bosses want to make the share-holders raise 700 million.

What a shame. My heart bleeds for them all.

Chas

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fitheach 3 years, 7 months ago

@Chas
You must be at the back of the queue when the monthly letters go out, but don't worry THEY KNOW!

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Chas (but different to the one above) 3 years, 7 months ago

Great piece...These letters are (on the face of it) quite threatening.

I'd be interested to know if outsourcing the collection of fees is a good use of finance to the Beeb....i.e. do Capita re-coup more for the BBC than the BBC pay out to Capita...my expectation is most people just pay the licence fee, and the cost of enforcement officers and all the office staff must be close to how much they re-coup.

The main thing I object to, in both the letter and when you speak to them on the phone, is the use of unlicensed property...the property doesn't need a licence...it's not unlicensed...properties don't need a licence 😣

I called the TV licensing people to save them sending somebody around, and they don't seem to realise it's me doing them them the favour...saving them the money...

I have a house I rented out for a bit after I moved out, and I'm now selling, so it's been empty for about 6 weeks whilst the sale is going through...TV Licensing were all over it...

Anglian Water also sent a letter, which reasonably states "If you're waiting to sell it, just leave this letter somewhere obvious so the next person will know what to do"

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fitheach 3 years, 7 months ago

@differentChas

Outsourcing the TVL activities provides one huge advantage for the BBC: they can distance themselves from all that nasty money collection. It wouldn't be right for Auntie to be seen threatening people by having the "boys" sent round. Don't sully that lovely BBC brand that most people associate with lovely nature programmes, Royal occasions & Wimbledon with the art of tax collection with menaces.

Can a private company, like Capita, be more efficient in the collection rates than the BBC itself? I don't think so. If tax collection could be done more efficiently by a private company, shouldn't HMRC also be privatised? The efficiency of either a public entity or private company ultimately just comes down to good management, and that can exist in both organisation types. Private companies have the extra burden to somehow extract a profit from their activities, public entities can put all monies into the kitty.

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Chas 1 3 years, 7 months ago

Hi ,

If Capita intend to send me my ENTITLEMENT April letter, they had better get on with it.
April is expiring about as quickly as is Capita.

Chas

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Chas 1 3 years, 7 months ago

Hi,
My postman has been. He delivered some real mail and a stack of junk (binned unopened), but no letter from Capita.

I am beginning to panic . . . anxiety is setting in . . .

Chas

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fitheach 3 years, 7 months ago

@ChasOriginal

TVL junkie?
You might need to come to terms with the fact that you are not getting a missive from Gordon Smith (Dundee's finest) this month.

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Chas 3 years, 7 months ago

Today is the last day of April, and I have been denied my monthly missive from TVL.

It would be a lot to expect that they will send me a new letter, or attempt a visit, in the month of May.

But one must always be optimistic, and live in hope.

Has anyone made a list of all the places where Gordon Smith is Enforcement Manager?

It was Motherwell on the last letter I received.

Chas 1

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fitheach 3 years, 7 months ago

@Chas

Gordon was definitely in Dundee, according to my letter from him:
https://fitheach.co.uk/static/media/uploads/galleries/tv-licensing-letters/tv-licence-2018-04b.jpg

From the letters I have received, previously, Gordon has been in:
Dundee
Falkirk
and "Regional Enforcement Manager" (no town specified)

Your letter specified Gordon was in Motherwell. Going through the other comments I note that Gordon has been located in Edinburgh and Glasgow too,

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Chas 1 3 years, 7 months ago

Gordon's car mileage expenses my be part of the reason for Capita being over 500 million pounds short in the petty cash box.

I hope they haven't given up on me.
Is it not my right, as a Non-TV-Tax payer, to get monthly letters?

Chas 1

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fitheach 3 years, 7 months ago

@ Chas1
£500 million? Nothing petty about that sum!
I wonder if anyone has done a Subject Access Request to TVL:
https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/personal-information/

The letters are always addressed to "Legal Occupier", as you know, but as TVL collect and store information about payments etc. their data must also be personalised. It would be really enlightening to know exactly what data TVL are capturing.

I would be most surprised if TVL have "given up" on you as my impression is that they keep on going, forever.

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Chas 1 3 years, 7 months ago

I suspect the information they have is the voters' roll, PLUS any other information individuals are unwise enough to give them.

The sensible course is never to respond to their letters or threats, and in particular never reply giving your name or any other details.

If you are not liable to paying for a TV Tax licence, there is no reason why you should go to any efforts whatsoever in connection with TV Licensing. It is simply none of your business.

Chas 1

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Winston Smith 3 years, 6 months ago

@Fitheach

"When did you have the email communication from TVL? Back in the dim and distant past, I informed TVL that I didn't need a TV licence, after which they didn't bother me again for for a period of about two years. Now that the BBC has to scrape by on just £3.8 billion, perhaps TVL get back in touch much sooner."

I informed them I was no longer watching TV and didn't renew my license about three years ago. I had become aware of the law change and decided I barely watched TV which had been displaced by the internet for me. I had two years without contact, then they asked me to renew my declaration, which I did and shortly afterward the letters started.

I've received a new one! They really, really are going to visit me. I wont hold my breath though.

https://image.ibb.co/jvCLQo/TV_One.jpg

https://image.ibb.co/kVVPko/TV_Two.jpg

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fitheach 3 years, 6 months ago

@Winston

You must be on the same schedule as me, as I received an identical missive about ten minutes ago. I suspect the letters and any actual visits are completely unconnected. The letters are just threats to elicit payment. The door-to-door inspectors are probably just given a computer print-out for a given area and left to get on with it. Anything else would be very unproductive. The number of letters sent out will dwarf the number of house visits, I bet.

However, if you do get a visit I would *love* to hear about it.

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Tony Dee 3 years, 6 months ago

I've just received a fresh letter dated May 2018 and signed by Jackie Garswood - even got a profile on LinkedIn but probably a false name. I got this even though I wasted the effort by going online and declaring I didn't need one only two months ago. So, I'm expecting (and secretly hoping for) more to come through the post before one of their goons dares to disturb my evening rest by ringing my doorbell.

I will take some to the local police station when a few more have been delivered and record what they say about them because to me they are worded to be intimidating and accusing. Accusing me of doing something I am not. Just because I have a TV it doesn't mean I watch their trash. I have a bike that has a top speed of 185MPH! I've never had the coppers randomly coming around to my house accusing me of riding at 185MPH!!

The other thing that galls me is why does the BBC believe we should give them money for the right to watch TV. I've looked through a few of the patents and none of the development of TV can be credited to the BBC! That's like paying Boeing an annual tax just because they have a large plane but didn't actually create the first powered flight (I'll let the arguments wage on around me on who actually did) let alone the many small steps in development that has led us to where aviation is today. No! The BBC does not have a monopoly on TV and we should all try to encourage others to follow and stop paying the TV license rip-off once and for all!.

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fitheach 3 years, 6 months ago

@Tony
As I said in the blog article above, I haven't watched TV for twenty years. I don't have a desire to watch any TV channel and I find the presumption by TVL that *everyone* watches the gogglebox to be insulting. I can understand that people who do watch some TV channels but not the BBC, that they feel aggrieved about paying the BBC tax. I think there is a very strong argument for the BBC to move to being a subscription service and for the TV licence to be dropped.

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Dave 3 years, 6 months ago

I live in a flat during the week for work, and return home at weekends. My home has a TV licence because we have a TV. My flat does not, I do not watch TV in the week or stream live TV.

What I don't understand is that if I stand in the street and stream iplayer on my phone, I'm covered by my home licence. If I walk inside the flat, streaming the same thing, it becomes against the law. This is odd.

Detector vans (or equipment) can't really work in heavily populated areas. I'm in one of several flats. I use a laptop (i.e. a screen) as I guess everyone does in the block. There's probably ten laptops and nine TVs (I don't have one) in the building. They can't possibly work out which belongs to which flat.
Other than turning up and asking to have a look around, I can't see what else they have in their investigatory arsenal.

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fitheach 3 years, 6 months ago

@Dave
I agree there is no logic for the licensing. TVL are still partially stuck in a traditional view of television consumption which was property based. I haven't researched any figures for people viewing using portable digital devices ('phones, tablets, laptops) but it will be a hefty percentage. Watching at a time of your choosing, in a location of your choosing are both enormous conveniences (sometimes it will even be in a convenience). That said, for certain entertainments a big screen would still be preferable. Watching a big sporting event or the latest blockbuster film wouldn't be quite the same on your mobile.

I can see that a BBC subscription might make more sense for people using digital devices, though there might be difficulties with pricing for family viewing or multiple devices.

I never believed detector vans were ever a serious proposition and were actually an early example of "putting the frighteners on".

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Chas 1 3 years, 6 months ago

Capita promised me a visit at the end of March. It didn't happen.
Today is the last day of MAY, and not only have I not had "THE VISIT", I haven't had a nice letter from Gordon since early March.

It really isn't good enough.

Chas 1

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WSM 3 years, 6 months ago

An all too familiar story. I regularly go overseas for extended periods, cancelling the current license when I do and taking out a new one on my return. I inform them each time as I cancel the direct debit, but always, return to a pile of threatening letters from our Gordon!

I finally got sufficiently sick of it to send 'enquiries@licensing' a searing email about it, demanding explanation as to why they waste my and other license-payers money in this way. Suffice it to say, I'm not holding my breath!

But it is a waste when their system should be able to log such things. Another inefficient/ineffective system we are all paying for. Not fit for purpose! Could be a good subject for a BBC Panorama investigation! ;-)

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fitheach 3 years, 6 months ago

@WSM
How long does it take for TVL to start sending the threatning letters after you cancel the direct debit?

In the "old days", before I took notes of correspondence from TVL, I'm sure that after writing to TVL to tell them I didn't need a licence I wouldn't hear from them for about two years. I get the feeling the TVL don't wait anything like two years now.

BBC Panorama programme about the BBC's TV Tax, can't see that happening ;-)

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Chas 1 3 years, 5 months ago

Hmmm....

Direct Debits.
Bad plan, leaves them in control and costs them the least effort.

I have NO direct debits set up.

When people think I owe them money, they can send me a bill setting out the details,

If I agree I will pay them, usually by sending a cheque in the post,
This method of paying these people is their least favourite.

One see the satisfaction involved.

Chas 1

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fitheach 3 years, 5 months ago

@Chas 1
Have the blighters got you down?
As long as you are not watching live TV or using iPlayer there is no need to consider payment of any kind.

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Chas 1 3 years, 5 months ago

Certainly not!
How you you think such a thing is possible?

Electricity and Phones crooks can sent me bills.
I will pay them in good time.

But, no direct debits.

Chas 1

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Chas 1 3 years, 5 months ago

Those TVL bounders at Capita seem to have abandoned me.

My last letter from Gordon was in early March.

Poor service.

Chas1

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fitheach 3 years, 5 months ago

@Chas1

You'd think TVL would at least be able to churn out one of their old letters to keep you happy. The BBC used to be good at "repeats".

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Winston Smith 3 years, 5 months ago

Well it's that time of month again. When good boys and girls get a nice letter from Gordon.

Have you been naughty Chas1?

https://image.ibb.co/hgMQzd/Gordon_TVL.jpg

They seem to have reverted to a previous letter as they were going to visit last month, whereas now they've authorised a visit. Probably why they didn't visit, forgot to authorise it!

From Wiki;

Three basic tones of voice are used in TV Licensing letters: "Customer Service", "Collections" and "Enforcement". According to the BBC: "Customer service is the brand experience we create for customers who are currently licensed, unknowingly unlicensed or who don’t need a licence", whereas "Collections is the brand experience we create for those customers whose TV licence has expired and whom TV Licensing wants to motivate to renew." Finally, the enforcement tone is used for households who have been unlicensed for a longer period. This period is not specified in freely available documents but TV Licensing suggests it could be used, for example, for the third and fourth renewal reminder. Each of these 'tones' involves letters with a different colour palette. For example, green is used in 'Customer Service' letters and red may be used in 'Collections' and 'Enforcement' letters. In all cases, the vocabulary and format used in the letters is strictly defined.

According to the BBC, it is not possible to opt out of receiving TVL mailings since they 'are not advertising or marketing material'. Similarly, householders who do not have a licence cannot exclude themselves from unsolicited calls from TV Licensing by registering with the Telephone Preference Service.

Data on the number of search warrants executed per year in the whole of the UK are not collated or held centrally by the various judicial bodies of the state. However, the BBC, itself, holds the information some of which has become available due to FOI requests. For example, in the financial year 2014/15, TV Licensing applied for 256 warrants to serve in the UK. 167 warrants were granted by the courts of which 115 were executed. In the same year ** in Scotland no warrants were applied for or served** whilst in Northern Ireland 12 warrants were granted and 7 executed in the year.

** If they knock on your door tell them to come back with a search warrant.

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Chas 1 3 years, 5 months ago

Well, that's a new letter to me.
I have checked my collection of TVL letters carefully, and I don't have one of those.
I can hardly wait to update my set.

Chas1

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fitheach 3 years, 5 months ago

@Chas1
I can almost sense a feeling of relief emanating from your direction; TVL haven't forsaken you :-)

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Chas 1 3 years, 5 months ago

But not yet, 21st June,.

My last letter from Gordon (Enforcement Manager Motherwell) was in early March.
That's more than three months, which is really poor service.

Chas 1

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Chas 1 3 years, 4 months ago

Hopeless . . .
it is now 25th JULY, and STILL no letter from Gordon.

Perhaps i should complain, but to whom?

Chas1

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Chas 1 3 years, 3 months ago

It is depressing.

It is now six months since Gordon sent me a letter.

I suspect he may be two-timing me.

Chas 1

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fitheach 3 years, 3 months ago

@Chas 1
It does seem strange that you aren't receiving any letters. I could imagine one or two letters getting lost in the system, but six-in-a-row is unlikely. You must've been accidently deleted from the TVL database. Lucky you.

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Chas 1 3 years, 3 months ago

Perhaps some nasty person has squealed on me, and told TVL I don't have a television set, and don't watch live TV (or any other TV actually) either.

That would be awful.
How could anyone be so cruel?

Chas

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Chas 1 3 years, 2 months ago

It is now OCTOBER, and still no nice letter from Gordon, nor even a visit.

I am feeling quite abandoned.

Chas 1

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Love games 3 years, 1 month ago

Phil carvill now works in kensington lol

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Chas 1 3 years, 1 month ago

"Phil carvill now works in kensington lol"


Well, let us hope he remembered to migrate his TV Tax licence from his former house to his new one!

He wouldn't want to risk a knock at the door, or even a court appearance and a £1,000 fine.

Chas 1

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Martin1 3 years ago

Just as an aside, I thought it interesting that following the many thousands of letters which they appear to be sending out threatening people they are now running a "Time to go paperless" campaign.
Inside the envelope along with the letter which bears the words "less paper means more money for programmes" is another piece of paper telling me the same thing.
Needless to say I received two of these on the same day.
Does more paper mean less programmes?

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fitheach 3 years ago

@Martin1
I can't see how going paperless would fit with TVL's intimidating letter approach. The letters presumably work because they are sent to every household which doesn't currently have a TV licence. They can't send threatening emails to addresses they don't know about. My most recent TVL letter didn't mention going paperless.

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Chas 1 3 years ago

Quite recently I qualified for a FREE TV TAX licence.
I am now faced with a dilemma.
Bearing in mind I haven't had a TV for about 25 years and don't watch TV in any other way, what should I do?

Should I apply for a TV TAX licence even though I do not have a TV and have no intention of getting one? Would Gordon & Company see that as a victory?

Or should I stick to my guns, and NOT apply for a TV TAX licence, simply because I don't have a TV and don't watch TV?

Chas 1

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Chas 1 3 years ago

Fitheach wrote - "My most recent TVL letter didn't mention going paperless."

Well, good for you! I haven't had a letter from Gordon & Co since March!

Chas 1

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fitheach 3 years ago

@Chas1
You're not missing much, same old letters as before. ;-)
Perhaps, Gordon has put you on the paperless regime.

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Chas 1 2 years, 11 months ago

In this season of kindness and goodwill, do you think Gordon might find it in his heart to send me a letter?

I wouldn't mind if it included some Season's Greetings, and even modest festive decoration.

But alas, I fear it can be only a dream . . .

Chas 1

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fitheach 2 years, 11 months ago

@Chas1
That's it, he was just saving up to send you a nice Christmas card.
You wait and see ;-)

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Chas 1 2 years, 11 months ago

HORRORS!

What will I do if he sends me a FREE TV licence for Christmas?

Because I don't have or watch TV, I might be at risk of being accused of receiving the TV Tax thing under false pretences.

But alas, it can be but a dream.
Capita is in such a mess, dishing out free TV Tax licences won't be anywhere close to its agenda, whether or not it's the season of goodwill to all men - non licence-payers excluded, obviously.

Chas 1

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andy 2 years, 11 months ago

Hey John Hale, Camden Enforcement Officer - and also Vauxhall apparently

- kiss my arse

and stuck your state control TV up there as well

- not watched that crap since 2011 - not live, not after on IPlayer ... nothing - because i refuse to be indoctrinated by fascist pigs

oh and btw, seeing as it's Christmas, if you wish to watch TV - there's a few satellite options that circumvent UK airspace

so nrrrrrrrrr

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Chas 1 2 years, 11 months ago

Well now, I knew they could be depended on at this season of jollity and happiness.

Today, 24th December, I have received a letter from them, but this one is not signed,

Today's theme is

"Please Don't risk the reputation of
your business by ignoring this letter"

As TV Licensing has nothing to do with me, nor me with it, I shall take my chances and file this letter with all the others.

Chas 1

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Ian McLaren 2 years, 11 months ago

Ref: Gordon's threatening letters.

Thank you Iain @fitheach, you've cheered me up just in time for Hogmanay.
I've just filed my latest letter from TV Licensing eejits and I've off to do
something more constructive now.
I like the look of your Mustard recipe and the Bigos has really got my attention.
"Gordon" isn't invited. ;-)

Happy new year to all.
Ian McLaren

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fitheach 2 years, 11 months ago

@Chas1
I knew Gordon would come through for you, just in time for Christmas. What a guy!

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fitheach 2 years, 11 months ago

@IanMcLaren
Bliadhna Mhath Ùr
If you try the mustard recipe, let me know how you get on. I have had quite a few people contact me recently who have made their own mustard.

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CHAS 1 2 years, 10 months ago

Bang on cue!
Another nice letter, but not from Gordon.
This one is signed by Jane Jeffers, noted to be the (fictional) "Regional Enforcement Manager".
Should we be worried about Gordon?

This letter claims to be a "Pre Visit Notice" to "this business"

By the way Jane's letter tells me "TV can be great for business - for example keeping customers entertained in waiting areas".
Some sales pitch! Our Jane will soon be a top executive in Saatchi & Saatchi!

But here, her letter will be added to the folder with all the others, and her envelopes will be recycled.

I am looking forward to the next one! It's great to be be back in their good books, and not ignored.

Chas1

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fitheach 2 years, 10 months ago

@Chas1
I might be writing an update to this article in the near future as I have seen the BBC complaining about the rising rates of TV licence "evasion". Perhaps they consider you as an evader (and me, too).

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CHAS 1 2 years, 9 months ago

Official Investigation

"Warning : This unlicensed business address is being investigated"

You will all be delighted to learn that our best chum Gordon Smith is now Enforcement Manager, Edinburgh.

It isn't much of a letter. On the "How scary is this letter" on a rating of 1 to 10, the most I could give it is a score of 2.

As TV licensing is nothing to do with me, I will not reply, but I will file the letter with the rest.

CHAS1

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CHAS 1 2 years, 7 months ago

25th April 2019.

They have sent me another letter for my collection.
This one is 'anonymous', no false name and no false signature.
It is pretty pathetic ~
"Please don't risk the reputation of your business by ignoring this letter".
I will take my chances .

CHAS 1

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NoThanks Capita 2 years, 5 months ago

Recieved my Standard computer generated letter from Gordon Smith this time he is in Kilmarnock. However Gordon is getting slack in his old age and stress from moving around all these different offices, his milage claim and expenses must be enormous, this time i recieved a the usual Treat'O'Gram dated for May 2019, however it is June 2019. Gordon must be getting very confused as he does not even seem to know what month it is?

No Contact - No talking to this private company - No response to any letters and under no obligation to give any details to this private company, as they say "It's the Law" but my right Not to participate in their boring games of trickery and propaganda

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fitheach 2 years, 5 months ago

@NoThanks Capita
Was your letter addressed to you personally or to "The Legal Occupier"?

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CHAS 1 2 years, 5 months ago

Checking newly arisen difficulty making posts and replies.

Chas 1

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CHAS 1 2 years, 5 months ago

It seems to be working now.

Nothing doing here since 25th April anonymous letter.

It's a bit disappointing really.
Surely a measly one letter a month isn't too much to hope for ?

CHAS 1

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Jane Jeffers - BBC License Tax Inspector 2 years, 1 month ago

Jane Jeffers is another made up name being used in Stockport... it seems that their advertising agency (who creates these letters) are not very inventive I their approach.

If the BBC cannot sustain itself then it should close down like any other commercial business. They are happy to tell us all that they make award winning programmes and are selling in hundreds of countries... yet we have to pay for it all and their high salaries.

I am all for free enterprise - but when it is done under threat of law - that is not democracy.

What a farce that is. The BBC should make its own money and not tell everyone how well it is doing off the back of pensioners and people who do not want their service.

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Jane Jeffers - BBC License Tax Inspector 2 years, 1 month ago

Just a couple of observations to make...

This is the BBC ultimately taxing us? No matter how it is wrapped up as a global license by X, Y, Z company and their dozen invented people that do the chasing.

In all our public correspondence we should refer to the BBC and not the agency or people they invent - because those are the people they want us to blame. It deflects the complaints away from them as the posts on this forum prove ... we are chasing shadows.

The more the BBC are named directly in public for this - the more their PR machine will report the negativity to their board of directors. Public opinion will eventually get through to them and it will not go unnoticed by the press.

They will have an Advertising Agency monitoring negative feedback in the press and online (they all do - and I know, because I worked for a top agency for 30 years). Would we be better naming and shaming the BBC people responsible for this harassment ?

Should the BBC Chairman not explain to the press why companies acting on behalf of the BBC are allowed to intimidate pensioners, threaten vunerable people and also why they spend £ millions a year printing letters which are frankly a load of lies. Letters written by fictitious names that the BBC have sanctioned and approved threaten court action. In this day and age is it legal or ethicalfor someone who does not exist to be used to threaten someone into paying money ? Who in the BBC is approving this ?

This is a real story that Panorama should investigate... but they won't... because they too work for the BBC !

But a daily newspaper might take it on and an investigation is already on a plate for them... this is a national scandal in my view.

We all know that this not how the BBC should behave... and the sooner they realise that they are hurting the people who have spent years funding them the better. I actually think that a small charge is appropriate - but when it becomes a weeks money from my pensioner parents income per year - then enough is enough.

There is someone at the BBC who is responsible for Advertising and Marketing . Someone in that department will oversee all of these letters and approve them before they are posted out. Thats how marketing departments work.

I suggest that in each instance you complain directly to the Director General of the BBC. He or someone on his board are approving this and they must know that their representatives are lying to people.

If the Chairman of the BBC does not know that this is happening - then we are doing him a public service by telling him and then the press can feel justified in asking him why he has done nothing about it.

One day this gravy train will burst and the person at the top of the BBC should be held accountable. But in the meantime my mother will struggle to pay her BBC license fee - as she is frightened and does not want a "visit"

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fitheach 2 years, 1 month ago

@Jane Jeffers :-)
Here are the top 5 BBC "stars", ordered by their annual salary (ranges):

Gary Lineker - £1,750,000-£1,754,999
Chris Evans - £1,250,000-£1,254,999
Graham Norton - £610,000-£614,999
Huw Edwards - £490,000-£494,999
Steve Wright - £465,000-£469,999

It is your mother, and millions like her, who is funding those frankly obscene salaries.

Source:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-48839428

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Chas 1 1 year, 10 months ago

Cost of BBC "stars" in numbers of TV licence fees :

Gary Lineker - 11,326 licence fees
Chris Evans - 8,090 licence fees
Graham Norton - 3,948 licence fees
Huw Edwards - 3.171 licence fees
Steve Wright - 3,010 licence fees.

Nice work if you can get it

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Tetley 4 months, 1 week ago

It turns out that Jane Jeffers, the woman sending my wife the aggressive personally addressed red enveloped threat-o-gram probably doesn't exist. Either that or she gets about bit, we got our TV Licensing letter supposedly from the Preston Enforcement Office, which also doesn't appear to exist. Upon investigation it appears that other people have got letters from the Manchester enforcement office, South Wales enforcement office and Peterborough Enforcement office. All from the Enforcement Manager for that area who is always Jane Jeffers. Incidentally all the letters originate from Crapitas office in Mowdem Hall in Darlington.
So to summarise: My wife is receiving intimidating and aggressive letters from a company that thinks GDPR regs don't apply to them, claims to be TV licensing but is in fact a private company - Capita, from a fake office in Preston signed by a person who probably doesn't exist - trying to bully her into thinking she is liable for a bill that she doesn't need to pay.
These people sicken me - their modus operandi is to bully and intimidate the vulnerable into paying up, whether they need to or not. I wonder how many people have gone into crisis when they have received this kind of letter. I wonder if receiving one of these letters has pushed anyone over the edge.
And this snake oil is backed up by legislation. We really are through the fucking looking glass. .
Will the real Jane Jeffers please stand up.

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