Death, taxes and television
I’ve lived in a flat in Islington for about a year now, and in that time I’ve received many letters demanding money. Annual invoices for council tax recommend that I pay by direct debit. Flat-rate water bills arrive quarterly. I’m asked to provide a gas meter reading from time to time. Two electricity suppliers are still arguing about which of them supplies electricity to the flat, and they both demand payment.
The most insistent, the most colorful, and the most bizarre of all are the letters regarding TV licensing. I don’t own a television set, nor is one provided by the landlord. The only television programs I watch are those on rented DVDs, which I view using a computer. According to their own website, I am not obliged to pay them anything.
Just another bill
Naturally, their first attempt was to send an invoice, which I declined, as I hadn’t ordered anything from them. This sort of behavior is known as mail fraud in the US. Scam artists send thousands of invoices to random people, some small percentage of whom pay them or are tricked into agreeing to do so.
WARNING AGAINST UNLAWFUL ACTION
Next, they began to send warning letters. These, at first glance, accuse the recipient of illegal activity, and “strongly advise” the purchase of a license. They quote statistics showing how efficient they are at catching “evaders”, even those in the recipient’s own neighborhood!
At this point, I phoned and told them that I did not require a license and would appreciate it if they would stop sending the letters.
Some time later, a man knocked on our door on a weekend afternoon to investigate. He stood at the doorstop and asked whether there was a television in the house, and a few other things, and left.
The latest letter threatens us with a “full investigation of the above address” and a “fine of up to £1000”. This is because “there is still no record of a TV Licence at this property, despite our previous letters.” They invite me to call them (again) to update their records if I do not require a license.
Given that we have already been visited by an investigator, I wonder what this “full investigation” will entail. Questioning my neighbors? Surveillance? Wiretapping? Midnight raids?
Woe to those who dare defy the TV police.