In April 2014, after typical BBC prevarication, the most recent version of the TV Licensing operations contract was published online for public scrutiny.
As the Information Commissioner's Office had previously ordered the BBC to release an earlier version of the same contract, most people would consider it a bit unusual for the Corporation to delay issuing an updated version, but that's by the by.
Just another example of the BBC's new era of "transparent accountability", much trumpeted by Tony Hall during his anointment as Director General.
Carefully reading the contract, between the BBC and Capita Business Services Ltd, we discovered a very interesting clause about the regular collection of customer satisfaction data. "We'll have some of that" we thought, safe in the knowledge that as a contractual requirement the BBC would be unable to use its usual cop out of saying "ah well, that information is held by Capita and not on the BBC's behalf, so you can't have it".
At the end of January 2016, the BBC sent us what it described as the most recent customer satisfaction data, relating to the period between January 2013 and March 2014.
We were astonished to discover that, according to Capita's data, almost two-thirds (62%) of customers questioned rated TV Licensing's service as "excellent". We were equally astounded that, according to Capita, only about one-in-twenty (6%) of customers questioned rated TV Licensing's service as poor or very poor.
It should be noted that the BBC has failed to provide all data requested, which might have given a better insight into Capita's data collection methodology. We suspect there is something in that methodology that gives rise to these superficially positive ratings. There is no way of telling, given the BBC's characteristically half-arsed response.
Earlier today the BBC sent us further customer satisfaction data, in the form of comments left in response to the survey. It should again be noted that we have concerns about the quality of data provided by the BBC, not least the fact that many comments have been retyped in the third-person - presumably by a Capita employee - instead of being reproduced verbatim.
Nevertheless, some of those comments make very interesting reading indeed. A representative sample is given below:
- "I had to call TV Licensing 7 times, due to kept being cut off"
- "The automated system is rubbish"
- "I got through to too many different departments and they don't speak to each other efficiently"
- "It took 20 minutes on hold and it was an expensive call waiting that time"
- "It took 45 minutes to get through"
- "They were rude and abrupt, the male agent on the phone"
- "They couldn't grasp why I was calling"
- "They didn't do what they said they would do"
- "Politeness was missing and needs to be worked on"
- "I kept getting letters after the agent said I wouldn't"
- "TV Licensing is incompetent. I have never dealt with a company that has been so bad. I had to send in the same details four times"
- "I had to send in the same documents twice, but it's all sorted now"
- "It took 5 attempts to get an over-75 licence"
- "I had to call 3 times and TV Licensing never confirmed my payment had been received"
- "It took at least 3-4 months after I told TV Licensing until I received my over-75 licence"
- "It took 4 months to sort out my over-75 licence and payments were still debited from my bank account"
- "It took 5 months for the letters to stop"
- "I am still waiting for my information to be updated, 3 months later"
- "I spoke to four people and only one knew what they were talking about"
- "The TV Licensing call handlers all disagreed with each other"
- "I spoke to many members of staff who were unfamiliar with the changeover process"
- "The TV Licensing call handler provided wrong information"
- "I spoke to three different TV Licensing managers and I was told three different things"
- "They are all totally incompetent"
- "I was paying for two licences. I didn't get a rebate and I don't think the staff were helpful"
- "I wasn't listened to. The TV Licensing agent just wanted to sell me a licence"
- "4-6 weeks for a refund is too long. It's abysmal"
- "One TV Licensing agent put the phone down on me"
- "It took too long to get my query sorted"
- "TV Licensing don't listen"
- "I've had to call TV Licensing twice about this issue, but it still hasn't been resolved"
- "I have not received my TV licence after 5 months of waiting"
- "I was wrongly accused of not paying, but I have been paying"
- "It took 4 or 5 letters before TV Licensing finally dealt with my problem"
A BBC spokesperson, commenting on the survey results, said: "TV Licensing aims to offer a good standard of service to licence payers and acts on feedback to improve what is provided wherever we can."
In contrast, our experience suggests that TV Licensing is very bad at acknowledging its shortcomings and learning from its mistakes.
If you've found this article useful please consider using our Amazon link for your shopping or downloading our free ebook.