In today's post we respond to an email received from one of our readers.
Our reader writes:
Dear TV Licensing Blog,
A TV Licensing officer called at my home the other week to ask why I didn't have a TV licence. It's the first time I've come face to face with TV Licensing, despite having received a lot of letters from them. I normally just ignore the letters and nothing ever happens, so I really wasn't expecting a visit from them.
I was upstairs getting ready for a night out with a friend when the doorbell rang a few times. As I went downstairs I could see the flap of the letterbox closing, which I though was a bit strange.
I opened the door and could tell immediately he was from TV Licensing. He was holding a palm-top computer and I recognised the logo on a sheet of paper in his hand. He asked if I was the occupier, which I confirmed I was. He then said he was visiting to see why I didn't have a TV licence. I said I didn't need one, because I never watch TV programmes. He seemed taken aback by that comment and replied "but I just heard the telly through your letterbox".
It was at that point that I realised he'd been looking through my letterbox, which I was pretty disgusted at given that I have small children. I told him that he was wrong and his visit was over. As I closed the door he muttered something like "you can tell your lies to the police when we come back with a warrant".
I'm really worried about what is going to happen now. If he goes away and says he heard a TV, then it will boil down to his word against mine. What chance would I have if he told a pack of lies?
TV Licensing Blog replies:
Thank you for taking the time to email us.
You seem aware of the law already, which is that a TV licence is required for those properties where equipment is installed or used to receive TV programmes. You don't receive TV programmes, so you don't legally need a TV licence. In that situation you have no legal business whatsoever with TV Licensing and the best option is to ignore them completely.
We never refer to TV Licensing employees as "officers", as doing so conveys a false sense of status and authority. TV Licensing "goons" possess neither of these personality traits. Indeed they possess no personality in any sense of the word.
We are concerned about several aspects of this TV Licensing goon's behaviour.
Firstly, we consider it socially unacceptable to spy through a stranger's letterbox. TV Licensing are reluctant to admit the fact, but they actively encourage their goons to spy through the windows and letterboxes of unlicensed properties. We consider such invasive methods of enquiry as both deviant and voyeuristic.
Secondly, TV Licensing goons should never be threatening anyone with the police or a search warrant. The TV Licensing Visiting Procedures - the official goon rulebook if you like - specifically prohibits the use of threats, although we know the rules are often broken.
Despite your concerns it is very unlikely there will be any escalation in TV Licensing's interest in your property. The letters will continue and you should continue to place them in the bin. Another goon may visit and you should firmly close the door on them. It is very, very unlikely that TV Licensing will apply for a search warrant, as doing so requires credible evidence of unlicensed TV reception.
From the sounds of it, the goon was hedging his bets. As long as you stay within the law, you should be perfectly okay.
Best of luck for the future.
If you have any questions you would like answered on the TV Licensing Blog, please email us with the words "Reader Letter" in the subject line. Our email address is in the sidebar. As mentioned on the About page, we can't guarantee to respond to every email but will try our best.