lime

TV Licensing Correspondence

The following is my complete collection of correspondence with TV Licensing. I regret that it only goes back to 1998. The first routine letters I recall in 1993 were even more aggressively threatening than those shown below. I also recall that they did not even have the form with box to tick indicating you do not have television. In the early days I thought it was just a matter of confirming I did not have a television and the matter would be settled once and for all. I could not have been more wrong . . .

The annotations in [square brackets] are my comments.

Some of the letters on this page have been re-typed. If any errors (not marked "[sic]") are present they were probably not in the originals and I will correct the page if notified.


Routine letter/form, dated 24th July 1998, received 2nd August 1998, signed "Richard Woolford, Customer Services":


Some time ago you told us that you did not use a TV set at the above address. We now need to update our records, so please would you help us in one of the following ways:

* If you still don't use a TV set, please us know by filling in part 1 of the form below. Then send this whole letter [why the whole letter?!] to us in the envelope provided.

* If you now use a TV set, please let us know by filling in part 2 below. Then send the whole letter [again---why?] to us in the envelope provided. Remember , if you use a TV set, you must by law have a TV licence.

* If you now have a TV licence, please fill in part 2 of the form below and sent this whole letter [again] to us in the envelope provided.

Please would you check your details are correct at the top of this letter. If not please write your correct name and in the part of the form that applies to you.

If you watch TV without a licence your are risking a fine of up to £1,000. You can get a licence at any post office, or by sending a cheque (with this whole letter) [and again] direct to us in the envelope provided. Please write out your cheque to 'TV Licensing', and write your name and address on the back. A colour licence costs £97.50 and a black and white one costs £32.50.

Please reply to this letter as soon as possible using the envelope provided. If you don't an enquiry officer may visit your home when they are next in your area.


Whole letter returned 4th August 1998, but photocopied first.


Routine letter/form, dated 13th August 1999, signed "Richard Woolford, Customer Services":


Some time ago you told us that you did not use a TV set at the above address. We now need to update our records, so please would you help us in one of the following ways:

* If you still don't use a TV set, please us know by filling in part 1 of the form below. Then send this whole letter [as above] to us in the envelope provided.

* If you now use a TV set, please let us know by filling in part 2 below. Then send the whole letter [again] to us in the envelope provided. Remember , if you use a TV set, you must by law have a TV licence.

* If you now have a TV licence, please fill in part 2 of the form below and sent this whole letter [again] to us in the envelope provided.

Please would you check your details are correct at the top of this letter. If not please write your correct name and in the part of the form that applies to you.

If you watch TV without a licence your are risking a fine of up to £1,000. You can get a licence at any post office, or by sending a cheque (with this whole letter) [and again] direct to us in the envelope provided. Please write out your cheque to 'TV Licensing', and write your name and address on the back. A colour licence costs £101.00 and a black and white one costs £33.50.

Please reply to this letter as soon as possible using the envelope provided. If you don't an enquiry officer may visit your home when they are next in your area.


Whole letter returned 20th August 1999 but again photocopied first.


Here things begin to go wrong . . .


Another version of the the above letter and form, dated 29th October 1999, signed "Joanna Hosking, Customer Services"


I wrote to you recently asking if you now use a TV set at the above address, but I have not had a reply. [If she is talking a about a letter other than the above, I did not receive it]

If you do now use a TV, remember that by law you must have a valid licence. If you do not have a licence you should buy one at once. If you don't you risk a fine of up to £1,000.

We now need to update our records, so please would you help us in one of the following ways:

* If you still don't use a TV set, please us know by filling in part 1 of the form below. Then send this whole letter [as above] to us in the envelope provided.

* If you now use a TV set or you do have a TV licence, please let us know by filling in part 2 below. Then return this whole letter [as above] to us in the envelope provided.

Please would you check your details are correct at the top of this letter. If not please write your correct name and in the part of the form that applies to you.

If you watch TV without a licence you are breaking the law. [note change of tone]. You can get a licence at any post office, or by sending a cheque (with this whole letter) [and again] direct to us in the envelope provided. Please write out your cheque to 'TV Licensing', and write your name and address on the back. A colour licence costs £101.00 and a black and white one costs £33.50.

Please reply to this letter as soon as possible using the envelope provided. If you don't an enquiry officer may visit your home when they are next in your area.


Whole letter returned 5th November 1999 but again photocopied first.


My letter to TV Licensing, 5th November 1999.


Please reply to this letter.

It is a fact that there are people who choose not to use television sets. In the light of this and of three communications we have received from your organisation this year, and the many over the last six years, we would be grateful if you would be kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

Is there any mechanism by which you would accept that we do not have a television for periods of more than one year? The annual questionnaire/threatening letter that we receive is both intensely irritating and distressing. We have been replying to these letters for at least six years---this year you seem to have lost our reply and have sent a further threatening letter and a letter that did not request a response. If an Enquiry Officer were to visit our house and discover that (surprise, surprise) we actually don't have a television set---as we have repeatedly informed you---would you then leave us in peace for ten or twenty years? Although you evidently think otherwise, we are law-abiding people. We pay our taxes, and in the days when we did own a television set (ten or twelve years ago), we bought a television licence each year. If we were to own a set in the future, we would buy a licence without prompting. So, why are you sending us letters every year? A television set is, after all, only a source of entertainment and we should be allowed to choose not to have one without being pestered. Why is a single signed statement that there is no television at this address not enough for an indefinite period?

We would like a reply to these questions. A stamped addressed envelope is enclosed, as are copies of the correspondence of earlier this year.


From: TV Licensing, ref COM/105509, 24 November 1999, Signed "Aled Hughes, Customer Relations Department"


Thank you for your reply to our recent enquiry letter and for enclosing copies of the correspondence, together with a pre-paid envelope. I am very sorry for the annoyance caused.

I was concerned to learn that you feel threatened by our enquiry letters. As agents [Envision Licensing Ltd, I assume] of the Licensing Authority, we have a responsibility to reduce the number of people using television without a licence. Over the years we have found that one of the cheapest and most effective ways of doing this, is writing to people reminding them they need to buy a licence if they install or use a television at their address.

Our enquiry letters are sent to addresses where we have no record of a television licence when we do not seem to have received a reply from previous enquiries. We find that most people have simply forgotten or do not use television. However, there are those who deliberately avoid buying a licence.

For this reason, our enquiry letters warn people what will happen if they avoid paying for their television licence, When we chose the wording of these letters, there is a fine line between getting our message across to possible evaders and causing offence to those who have genuinely forgotten, already hold a licence, or simply do not use a television set. However I do share your view that the wording with the wording of our second enquiry letter and this matter is now being looked into in the relevant department.

Sometimes, people who already have already told us they do not use a television set receive our enquiry letters. When they advise us of this we make sure we change our records so that a reasonable time passes before we write to the same address again. This is because we realise how annoying it can be to be troubled in this way.

Unfortunately, we cannot permanently protect an address from enquiry, because of the way situations can change, sometimes in a short space of time. For instance, many people move address each month and new occupants will then receive our enquiry letters advising them of the licence requirements. The replies to our letters enable us to keep our system as up-to-date as possible.

I have now updated our records to show that a television is not in use at your address for the time being. This protection will last a definate [sic] twelve month period. After this time, you may receive a further enquiry letter and I would be grateful if you would use the pre-paid envelope which will be provided with the enquiry letter, to let us know. We will then update our records once more. If you receive another enquiry letter within the next few days, which we could not prevent from being automatically generated, please disregard it.

I hope this is acceptable to you and I apologise for the inconvenience our enquiry has caused. I enclose a stamp booklet in recognition of the postage costs.


Sometime after this, I did not note the date and the letter is undated, I received the following routine letter to "The Occupier", signed by Debra Harris, Customer Services Manager.":


The last time we enquired there was no television being used at this address. We wondered if this was still the situation.

If circumstances gave changed and a TV licence is now needed, you should get one immediately. Using a television without a licence can lead to prosecution and a heavy fine.

If you need a TV licence.

A colour licence currently costs £101. You can pay for your licence over the phone by debit card, credit card or Direct Debit - just call 0990 22 66 66. There are details of all payment schemes available on the back of this letter.

If you have recently moved to this address.

If you have a licence for an old address, you need to transfer it to your new one or you won't be properly licensed. Please let us know your licence details by ringing 0990 246 246 or filling in the form below and returning it in the pre-paid envelope provided.

[note the following paragraph] If there is still no television being used at this address, I am very sorry for the inconvenience, please ignore this letter. If you have any questions, just call our General Enquiries Line on 0990 763 763. Thank you for your cooperation.


Following the instructions in the final paragraph, I did not reply.


On the 12th of January 2001, dated "January 2001", I received the following letter from TV Licensing addressed to "The Occupier", signed by "Val Smith, Customer Services":


We have no record of a valid TV Licence for this address. A TV Licensing Enquiry Officer now has your details and is planning to visit you. If you use television receiving equipment to receive or record television broadcast services and do not have a valid licence, you are breaking the law. You risk being taken to court and fined up to £1,000. So if you do not have a licence you should buy one today.

A colour TV Licence currently costs £104. Therefore you can be properly licensed for around 9 a month. If you call 0870 606 6789 and pay by Direct Debit over the phone now, your TV Licence will begin immediately. You can choose to pay in one lump sum or by a range of instalments. (Remember to have your bank details to hand when you call.) More information on Direct Debit and other payment methods are on the back of this letter. You can also pay online at www.tv-l.co.uk.

If you receive income related benefits, a weekly payment scheme is available. Call 08467 289 289 for more information. If you do not have a TV Licence or do not use a television[sic], I apologise for any concern this letter may have caused. To enable us to update our records, please confirm this in writing using the postage-paid envelope provided.

Remember, using a television without a valid licence is against the law and carries a heavy fine of up to £1,000. Act now to avoid the need for future action.

PS. If you or someone at this address is aged 74 or over, please call 0845 603 6999 for details of how to apply for a free or Short Term Licence.[sic]


My letter to TV Licensing, 12th January 2001:


Please reply to this letter.

On the 5th of November 1999, we wrote to you and received your answer of 24th of November. We are distressed and dismayed to see that you have not done as you said. Although we have had twelve months of peace, what you have now sent is not an "enquiry letter" but a threatening letter.

We do not have a television set. If we ever have one we will pay the licence fee immediately and without prompting.

We would be grateful if you would confirm you have received this letter and understood its content. In addition to copies of earlier correspondence we enclose a stamped addressed envelope for your reply.


From TV Licensing (Birmingham), ref FW/COM/925/264, dated 18 January 2001, signed "Lynne Pearson, Customer Relations Manager".


Thank you for your recent letter.

I have forwarded your letter to your Customer Relations Department for investigation and comment. They will reply to you shortly and I thank you for your patience in the meantime.

If you should have any further comment on this matter please feel free to contact me at the above address/telephone number.


From TV Licensing (Bristol), dated 30th January 2001, ref COM/131628, signed "Miss Susan Lloyd, Customer Care":


[Note the use of "protect" and "guard" in this letter, and the continued subtle threats]

Thank you for contacting our Regional Centre. Your letter had been forwarded to the Customer Care Department for my attention.

I am sorry that you have received the letter from Val Smith which is normally sent only to addresses where we have had no response to previous enquiries. I have reviewed previous correspondence between yourselves and Aled Hughes of this department and I can see that and arrangement was made in November 1999 to protect your address from the usual enquiries for 12 months.

After this period a personal letter would have been sent to you to enquire if the situation remained the same. You should have received this letter in early December 2000 . If no response had been received by us after approximately six weeks, the address would revert to the normal cycle of enquiry letters, addressed to 'The Occupier'.

I can only conclude that you did not receive our letter in December, [could this have been the letter from Debra Harris, above, that did not request a response?] as I am sure that you would have sent an appropriate reply. I am very sorry for the annoyance that, in the circumstances, our recent letter must have caused you.

I will of course reinstate the previous arrangement for you, as you have indicated in your letter that you do not intend to use a television in the foreseeable future. As a result of developments in our system we are now able to extend the period of protection to two years.

I will ask an enquiry officer to call at some time in the future in order to confirm your non-use of television and then you will hear nothing further for two years. We will then send a personalised letter to you, simply asking if anything as changed. If nothing has change, we will again ask our local enquiry office to confirm your non-use of television before guarding your address from enquires for another two years. [note how I am repeatedly assumed to be dishonest]

We feel it necessary for enquiry officers to visit addresses in order to confirm the non-use of television, because experience has shown that a surprisingly high number of people who tell us that they do not have a TV set are later found to be using television. It is regrettable that visits may be made to honest citizens such as yourselves but we feel that we must act fairly and equitably in our enquiries to all addresses. Enquiry officer visits are carried out in accordance with a strict code of conduct and officers are expected to act professionally and courteously at all time.

As I have only today updated our records, you may receive one further enquiry letter which has already been processed and I could not prevent it from being sent. You can ignore that letter, or if you prefer, return it to me quoting the above reference number.

Once again, please accept my apologies for any inconvenience our enquiry may have caused.


NEARLY EIGHT YEARS have passed since I received the above letter, but then on the 4th of December 2008, I received the following:


From TV Licensing (Bristol), addressed to me by name, dated 1st December 2008, From "Sarah Marin, Customer Relations" (unsigned).


A recent check of our computer systems has identified that the above address has had no TV Licence for quite some time, but our records do not indicate whether this is correct.

As the owner / occupier of the address detailed above, if you use any equipment to receive or record live or virtually live television programmes via satellite, cable, digital or analogue broadcast, a licence is required.

At this stage, we are writing to you to establish whether:
1. You have a Television set or equipment that receives live or virtually life television programmes
2. You have a current and valid Television Licence
3. You do not receive a broadcast signal.

... details payment methods, contact details etc ...

If we do not hear from you within 14 days your address will be subject to our standard enquiry letters.

Can I take this opportunity to thank you in anticipation of your co-operation in this matter.


I've replied by ticking the box, on the supplied form, indicating "I do not receive a broadcast signal and do not require a licence" and returned it in the supplied envelope.

It now remains to wait and see what happens. Will TV Licensing leave me alone for a year or more, or is this just the beginning of the resumption of correspondence that appeared to end in 2001? Time will tell . . .


Well, it looks like this is going to be a resumption of correspondence. On the 19th of December 2008, I received the following letter (dated 14th December 2008) from TV Licensing (Bristol). Strangely since their last letter (and my reply) TV Licensing seem to have forgotten my name, and now address me as "The Present Occupier". The letter was signed by "Paul Stansfield", "Customer Services Manager".


Dear Sir/Madam, [Dear suspected liar?]

Thank you for telling us that you don't need a TV Licence.

As part of our standard procedures, we check on households who inform us that they don't need a TV Licence. We do this because when we visit people who have told us that they do not need a TV Licence, over a third of those we make contact with do, in fact, need one. [I read this to mean that they will not take anyone's word that they don't have a TV.]

By visiting these addresses, we hope to identify licence evaders and ensure that those who, like you, legitimately need no contact from TV Licensing are not troubled unnecessarily in the future.[If I "legitimately need no contact" from them, why contact me?]

We'd therefore appreciate your help when one of our TV licensing Officers visits you shortly. [TV Licensing assume me to be dishonest and clearly don't trust what I say.] The visit is just routine and will take a matter of minutes. Once our officer has confirmed that there is no need for a TV Licence at your address, we will ensure that you don't receive further letters or visits from us for at least three years. We will then contact you again, simply to check that your circumstances have not changed. For example, you may have moved home and the new occupants might use TV. [The electoral register would show if the occupants of a property have changed, so they should refer to that.]

If your situation changes, please let us know before we visit.


21st December 2008: I'm replying to this by email. I'm using the addresses: tvl.emailenquiries@capita.co.uk and enquiries@tv-licensing.co.uk.


Earlier this month you wrote to me (addressing me by name), after a break of nearly eight years, to ask if I still do not have a TV. The body of your letter can be seen here:

http://www.marmalade.net/lime/tvla-letters.html#011208

I replied promptly saying that I still do not have a TV. On the 19th I received another letter from you (addressing me as "The Present Occupier", this time) thanking me for my reply but indicating that you doubt my word when I say I do not have a TV and that you will check to confirm my honesty. The body of your letter is here:

http://www.marmalade.net/lime/tvla-letters.html#141208

I am puzzled as to why you bothered to write to me to ask me if I had TV, if clearly you had no intention of believing any answer I gave you and would sent someone to inspect my home regardless. Can I take this to mean that there is no point in my replying to any of your future correspondence as it serves no purpose? I appear to have gained nothing by having replied except being insulted by having my honesty questioned. As you say in your letter, I "legitimately need no contact" from you.

With regard to the visit you suggest, please note that your employees and agents are not welcome visitors to my property; if they call they may be photographed and those photographs together with any details they tender will be recorded, and may appear on the Internet. These are my terms. You are not compelled to visit my property but if you choose to do so, any visit will indicate your acceptance of these terms.

Note also, that all correspondence I receive from you may be published on my web pages:

http://www.marmalade.net/lime/


23rd of December 2008: a response. From "Gemma Bourne", the single line:


Please be assured that your comments have been noted accordingly.



THREE YEARS PASS and here we go again . . .


Update: 7th January 2012:

From TV Licensing (Bristol), addressed to "Legal Occupier", From "Joanne Osborne, Customer Service".

An unexceptional standard letter; however, this time it directs me to the TV Licensing web site to make a declaration that I do not receive a TV signal with any device.

I made the declaration and received an automatic acknowlegement with a "No Licence Declaration number".

To reinforce this, I have also sent an email message:


With regard to your letter dated "December 2011", which arrived today, I have completed the web form declaration as you requested.

I refer you to my earlier correspondence with TV Licensing shown on my web site here:

http://www.lime-marmalade.net/tvla-letters.html#011208

I remind you that I have previously stated that I do not have a television set. In the light of current technology I also confirm that I do not use any other device to receive a television signal.

I also remind you of what I said in my earlier correspondence: with regard to any visit you might make, you should note that your employees and agents are not welcome visitors on my property; if they visit they will be photographed and those photographs together with any details they tender or display will be recorded, and will appear on the public Internet. These are my terms. You are not compelled to visit my property but if you choose to do so, any visit will indicate your full acceptance of these terms.

Note also, that any correspondence I receive from you may be published on my web pages:

http://www.lime-marmalade.net/


9th January 2012, from "Mr W Kimball", TV Licensing, Bristol.
I've amended our records with the information you've provided.
9th January 2011, from "Joanne Osborne, Customer Services"
"Since you've let us know you don't need a licence, you won't receive any letters or emails from us for almost two years. We'll get in touch then to check whether your circumstances have changed." [Which would be reasonable . . . if it could be believed.]

"Just to confirm... We may visit your address to confirm that no licence is required. You see, it is our duty to make sure that everyone in the UK who needs a licence has one. "


And now I wait to see what follows . . .


Return to main page...

lime