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TV licencing enforcement question

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
 Postmanpat 19 Nov 2020

  For historic reasons my daughter's TV licence in her flat was under my name. We cancelled it and applied for a refund in July on the basis that she watches no live TV or BBC iplayer. It's not actually plugged into an aerial. She watches Netflix and Amazon through her laptop on to the TV screen.

 We have had no refund but several threatening letters (addressed to "the occupier") which we ignored and now say they will pay a visit.

  Do we:

1) Continue to ignore them?

2) Contact them and demand the refund explaining once again why we don't need a licence?

3) Something else?

Post edited at 12:20
 Alpenglow 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Postmanpat:

Ignore them, make sure you do not give them your name or any other details.

If they come to the door, don't let them in and tell them you've removed their implied right of access.

You have no legal obligation to let them in unless they have a warrant (extremely unlikely).

You gain no benefit in letting them in, there have been cases in the past where 'TV Licencing' goons (actually Capita obo the BBC) have connected up TVs whilst in an inspection and then accused people of watching TV illegally.

https://www.bbctvlicence.com/Tips%20for%20avoidng%20TVL-BBC%20harassment.htm

1
In reply to Postmanpat:

Ignore them, they're like vampires, don't invite them in.

If you're feeling bored keep asking to see their underwater helicopter pilot's licence or prove that they don't fly an underwater helicopter.

1
In reply to Postmanpat:

I have a similar situation. Even if inspectors visit there is no problem as the aerial is not plugged in and she never watches live TV. They need a search warrant to enter unless you allow it. Of course the "detector" vans are mainly for intimidation as apparently they can't actually detect if live TV is being watched.

In reply to Alpenglow:

That link flagged up a security warning.

 Red Rover 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Postmanpat:

They have no more right to enter your property than any other member of the public. Just ignore them.

 Postmanpat 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Postmanpat:

  I guess the next question is what the chances of them trying to take us to court are? Presumably they need evidence that she watches TV, which she doesn't?

In reply to oldie:

> Of course the "detector" vans are mainly for intimidation as apparently they can't actually detect if live TV is being watched.

I think the detector vans had numerous pieces of equipment that measured emissions from cathode ray tubes which would only be present when the TV was being watched. Since almost everyone now has LCD screens there's no point in detector vans.

1
In reply to Kalna_kaza:

Not only that, but there are loads of LCD screens which aren't TVs.

 Rob Parsons 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   I guess the next question is what the chances of them trying to take us to court are? Presumably they need evidence that she watches TV, which she doesn't?

If she hasn't been doing anything that requires a TV Licence, then you have nothing to worry about. In other words, f*ck 'em - if they want to waste effort in taking you to court, they will lose.

Of more interest is: if you are entitled to a refund, then you ought to get it.

 gravy 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Postmanpat:

Ignore the letters. After a while they go in a cycle and every now and again they change the envelope colour for emphasis. Once you pass through the first cycle the threats become comic.

As regards a visit, they do visit very occasionally (more likely when a license has not been paid or has been recently returned) but it is very occasional.

The inspectors have a right to "inspect your TV receiving equipment", a power that dates back to BW TVs and is solely designed to allow them to tell if you're trying to use a colour TV with a BW license. 

Beyond this they have no power whatsoever.  If you don't have any TV receiving equipment they can't come in.

This means if you don't watch live TV they can't come in. You need a license to watch iplayer (or other "live" TV) but simply having the capability to watch iplayer etc does not count as having "TV receiving equipment" so they can't come in for that.

They have no other powers, you don't have to answer any questions, just politely asking them to leave comes with no bad consequences.

If they call ask them to hold up their IDs, take a photo and then ask them to leave.  There is no need to talk to them, answer any questions, let them in or anything else and they know it.

Then forget all about it, the grand cycle takes a few years to complete, the best thing to do is ignore.

1
 toad 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Postmanpat:

Post article61 of the magna carta in your widow, tell them your name is Pat of the family Postman, and that you are a Freeman on the land

That should sort it

In reply to Kalna_kaza:

Also I believe there were never any prosecutions based on detector van evidence and the equipment itself was very difficult to use.

 gravy 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Kalna_kaza:

Detector vans were bullshit - technically it was possible locate a TV (and potentially with a positional accuracy of a couple of metres) but practically in the 1970s the technology was easily out performed by simply looking through a window, listening at the front door or looking at the roof for an aerial. 

Simply sticking a few TV aerials on a Bedford van and sticking a few posters up doesn't mean it worked.  Even if the vans were genuine the limits on the technology would be "there are TVs somewhere in this town". So maybe if you lived in an isolate farm house a mile from the nearest neighbour with a really shit TV and road access within a spit of your lounge it may have worked but if you lived in a street or block of flats forget it.

Interestingly enough the "looking through the window" technique has been revisited - capturing the stray light from around the curtains and correlating the time varying signal with that of a reference signal computed from the TV programme apparently works (and doesn't depend the screen technology) but is unlikely to be reliable or as effective as simply sending monthly threats.

 wercat 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Kalna_kaza:

local oscillator emissions on old TVs indicated which channel you are watching if the receiver IF frequency was known.

I suspect LO radiation now is somewhat less than in the days of valve receivers

Post edited at 14:27
 Iamgregp 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Postmanpat:

I never had a license the whole time I was a student, used to get all of the letters and all that. 

Once they came to the door and I told them we didn't have a telly and they questioned was that not the TV they could hear on in the background?  I told them it was a Bob Dylan album (which it was) and they asked if they could come in and check?  I politely replied that that wouldn't be convenient and they left, no big deal.

It really wouldn't have been convenient for them to come in at that time.  They'd have seen the telly. 

 wercat 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Postmanpat:

what about putting the end plug of the aerial feeder in a small bag, taping it all up and putting a label "Not in use" on it?

If there is no lead between the set and a wall outlet that would be good as well, as long as the lead isn't lying nearby which might make the  matter more debateable.

 SteveX 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Postmanpat:

Nice chap from Capita IIRC came to our house, ex Police I guess, I invited them in and they checked the telly was not tuned in and said we would not hear from them for about 3 years then the letters would start again.

How this would work with Social Distancing I have no idea, I suspect the whole thing is unenforceable.

As to the refund, write a letter, on paper and post it, do not waste your life on a phone call or bother with an email, a proper letter will sit on someones desk and they have to deal with it.

2
 Tom V 19 Nov 2020
In reply to toad:

and if they see you getting into your car tell them you travelling, not driving.....

2
 Red Rover 19 Nov 2020
In reply to gravy:

My mum doesn't have a TV and she wrote to tell them that about 20 years ago. They said they were going to send an officer round to check that she was telling the truth and didn't actually have a TV. She thought 'that's rude they can sod off' and just ignored the letters. Every month or so she gets a letter saying 'enforcement officers have been authorised to visit your property' or 'what to expect in court' which I think is verging on the bullying. Anyway she finds it funny and has a cupboard full of them. Had to burn the ones from the early 2000s as there were too many for the cupboard.

 davidalcock 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Postmanpat:

Many years ago I used to let them know I didn't have a telly. The amusing threats kept coming. So I've completely ignored them for 20 years. I make that around 500+ letters. And no, they can't come into your house under any circumstances unless they have a warrant. 

 nastyned 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Postmanpat:

I haven't had a telly for years but they send threatening letters to every address without a licence (I've had them sent to work too). I just ignored them and eventually someone did turn up on my doorstep. If I remember rightly they cunningly tried to catch me out by saying "I've come to talk to you about your TV", to which I replied "I don't have one". This satisfied them (thought they'd probably had a good peer in my front window too) and off they went. 

 aln 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Postmanpat:

This old chestnut. I don't know about your specific situation but but I don't understand why people get so worked up about this. I didn't have a telly for years, I chucked the letters in the bin. Eventually 2 guys came round, they weren't threatening at all, tbh it felt like they couldn't really be bothered. I brought them in, they saw I didn't have a TV and said Aye OK. I offered a coffee or beer, they declined, we chatted, then they left. They helpfully told me I could do an online thing saying I didn't have a telly, I did this, and I didn't hear anything else for 4 years till I moved house. People seem to want to make a big thing out of this, and it doesn't seem necessary. 

8
In reply to aln:

It’s the assumption you are a criminal until you demonstrate  otherwise that irks. Coupled with the fact that even if you do, you are assumed to be a criminal again two years later. 

That said, as you say, just ignoring them is the practical solution.

 aln 19 Nov 2020
In reply to MG:

> It’s the assumption you are a criminal until you demonstrate  otherwise that irks. Coupled with the fact that even if you do, you are assumed to be a criminal again two years later.

Lots of things in life are a lot more irksome, it's not a big deal. And you say 2 years later. Like I sais above, I did the online form, FOUR years later I hadn't had any communication from them. 

3
 Morgan Woods 19 Nov 2020
In reply to toad:

> Post article61 of the magna carta in your widow, tell them your name is Pat of the family Postman, and that you are a Freeman on the land

> That should sort it

Plus show them the heavy foil lining on the inside of the house that no TV signal could possibly penetrate

In reply to Postmanpat:

+1 ignore. 

I tried the online "I don't have a TV" thing. Not worth it because after a year the letters started again. And as said they're one a month on a 6 month cycle. It gets quite funny after a few years.

Ignore them, light the fire with them, or, what I never got round to doing, keep them to use as evidence of harassment.

 aln 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Longsufferingropeholder:

> +1 ignore. 

> I tried the online "I don't have a TV" thing. Not worth it because after a year the letters started again.

Again, not my experience. I did the online thing, I had nothing else from them for 4 years. 

2
In reply to aln:

Even if it was 4 years I wouldn't bother again. It only takes 5 minutes, but that's 5 minutes of my time to save them the expense of sending a letter a month that I never asked for and don't give a toss about, so why should I go out of my way at all? So I don't. 

In reply to aln:

Should add, rather obviously, that Theo C. Cupier filled out the online form of course on my behalf.  

 aln 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Longsufferingropeholder:

Why? I used my own name, same result. 

2
 aln 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Postmanpat:

Lol to the dicks putting dislikes on my posts. 

13
 gravy 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Longsufferingropeholder:

Some one has successful sued for harassment and been awarded damages but I don't think it stopped the letters coming...

 mondite 19 Nov 2020
In reply to gravy:

> by simply looking through a window, listening at the front door or looking at the roof for an aerial. 

The most useful approach was cross referencing the list tv retailers were required to provide with the list of licence holders.

For op: just ignore it unless you want to cut out the recycling in which case notifying them should shut them up for a while.

In reply to Postmanpat:

Why not make use of the BBC and just pay? It's a frigging bargain.

11
 Rob Parsons 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

Nothing's a 'bargain' if you don't actually want it.

 Oceanrower 19 Nov 2020
In reply to gravy:

What financial loss did they suffer?

 Ceiriog Chris 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Postmanpat:

Does anyone know if you are technically allowed a TV but just for example to watch U tube,  or as a monitor, not live TV or I player.

Just  as I’m less than impressed with the BBC at the moment so don’t want to renew,

 Postmanpat 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Ceiriog Chris:

> Does anyone know if you are technically allowed a TV but just for example to watch U tube,  or as a monitor, not live TV or I player.


   Yes, you are, technically.

 Postmanpat 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Ceiriog Chris:

> Does anyone know if you are technically allowed a TV but just for example to watch U tube,  or as a monitor, not live TV or I player.


   Yes, you are, technically. But you mustn’t watch BBC or iplayer on a laptop etc either

 gravy 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Ceiriog Chris:

It used to be that anything that could receive live TV required a license but now everything from your watch to your fridge can be technically capable of doing this it's now a matter of "if you watch live TV" (or record). 

A screen used for other purposes does not need a TV license but for clarity make sure that screen it isn't plugged into an aerial. Other purposes such streaming services do not require a license as long as they are not used to watch live broadcasts (the exception to this is IPlayer which does require a license).

You mentioned the BBC but you have to remember a license is required for all live broadcasts, ITV, CH4 are live and ITV+1 is "live" etc.

 Ceiriog Chris 19 Nov 2020
In reply to gravy:

Thanks, that will do for me 

 gravy 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Oceanrower:

I think they told the BBC to stop sending letters or they would charge a processing fee to handle them.  The BBC acknowledged the letter but didn't stop sending the letters so they invoiced them for a processing charge which went unpaid. It went to court and the BBC lost.  2012 I think. It could be made up bollocks though.

 Ian Parsons 19 Nov 2020
In reply to gravy:

> It used to be anything that could receive live TV but now everything from your watch to your fridge can be technically capable of doing this

Hah! A distracting recollection, if you'll permit. Following overnight lodging at the home of a friend-of-a-friend many years ago - obviously - I was wondering during breakfast why there needed to be a television in the kitchen. It wasn't; 'popty ping', as I'm told they say in Wales.

1
 Timmd 19 Nov 2020
In reply to Postmanpat:

>   I guess the next question is what the chances of them trying to take us to court are? Presumably they need evidence that she watches TV, which she doesn't?

AFAIK they'd only try take you to court if they could prove you have a TV and have been watching live TV or iplayer. 

I keep meaning to tell them I don't have a TV and forgetting, and I don't register the letters from them anymore, they're 'junk mail' rather than 'scary letters'.

Post edited at 23:24
 nikoid 20 Nov 2020
In reply to Ian 

> Hah! A distracting recollection, if you'll permit. Following overnight lodging at the home of a friend-of-a-friend many years ago - obviously - I was wondering during breakfast why there needed to be a television in the kitchen. It wasn't; 'popty ping', as I'm told they say in Wales.

Ah, took me a while that one Ian. Microwave as they say in England!

In reply to Postmanpat:

Thanks. Your thread has prompted me to respond to an "Under investigation" letter from TV licensing (actually Capita). I decided to cancel the licence which expired in September. I followed automated menus using a couple of phone numbers but 5 times ended with approx "nobody is available to answer your call".
I googled ways to make them answer and did the following. Rang 0300 790 6131, listened to the  welcome message, as soon as it started to read out the first of 7 menus I pressed 5, then as soon as it started to read out 2nd menu I pressed 5 but had to repress 5 several times because it didn't understand. Then they actually put me in a phone queue.
After 10 mins a pleasant operator answered, took the details of the licence and cancelled it. They will still send letters in the future advising that a TV licence may be required.
It was worth the bother cancelling because on a previous occasion I tried to pay online just for a new year (months after the licence had expired) but it actually renewed the old licence so I ended up paying for the months the TV had not been used for live broadcasts.

 Tringa 20 Nov 2020
In reply to Postmanpat:

In some situations ( ie watch or stream programmes live on an online TV service)  you do need a licence to watch Amazon programmes -

https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one

Dave


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