Bureaucrats are Never Wrong

One of the first things I did when I moved into The Cottage was buy a TV License. I did, after all, want to be able to watch the rather nice TV that I have here legally. I signed up to pay by direct debit so that I could never forget to pay.

Last month, because I have been here a year (doesn’t time fly!), a new license arrived. All well and good, I thought. But when I got back from Eastercon I found a letter asking me to buy a license. I checked my paperwork and it says my license is valid until March 2012. I went online and checked the official TV License website. It too says I am good until March 2012. So I ignored the letter.

Today I got another letter telling me that I could be fined £1,000 for watching TV without a license and that an Inspector would be calling. I’m going to have to ignore that too.

Why, you ask? Why don’t I just phone them up, or email them, or even write a letter? Because you can’t. The TV Licensing authority is so convinced that it can never make a mistake that it provides no means of challenging these letters. There’s the website, where you can check that you have a license. It says that I do. There’s a phone number, but there are no humans on the other end of it. All that the programmed scripts allow you to do is check if you have a license, and buy one if you don’t. I checked. I have a license.

However, some computer system at the TV License HQ is convinced that I don’t have a license, and the only thing I can do is wait for the Inspector to call and show him the license I have. I have this awful feeling that the Inspector will say that it is more than his job’s worth to go against what the computer records say, and that he’ll have to impound my TV and initiate a prosecution.

I shall talk to the letting agents. Possibly they have access that I don’t.

9 thoughts on “Bureaucrats are Never Wrong

  1. They can’t impound your TV. They can’t even come into the house unless you invite them.

    And in my experience (based on the System’s unwillingness to believe that anyone might own JUST a B&W TV) any inspector is more likely to have a resigned attitude..

  2. Happened to us when we moved. The system has a problem with flats (and granny hutches, apparently 😉 ) I sent them a photocopy of the liscence in the prepaid envelope they send for changing the address, and they still wrote to me demanding money because I “hadn’t replied to their letter”, which was about the point I gave up. When the inspector came round I showed him the licence and he was very sympathetic and understanding. He said most of his job was trying to get people back on the system after the computer had decided they didn’t have a licence, so I don’t think you have anything to worry about 🙂

  3. Actually you can now. You call them and given them the number of the license. I had to do this two weeks ago when both Edward and I bought licenses without asking the other.

    1. What number did you call? I couldn’t find any way through the automated script on the number given in the letter.

  4. What others have said. Ignore it.

    They have no authority to proceed or enter a property unless you give it to them. Nor can they initiate action without an agent physically entering the property to confirm there is an unlicensed TV.

    What tends to happen is they’ll send the letters and probably never send a human.

    Daft system OTOH beats paying the money to Murdoch.

  5. And I might print out the web site page that currently shows you having a license just in case it might not be there when you want it later…

  6. Madness. I don’t have a telly at all and still they send me threatening letters.

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