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TVL providing false information under the FOI Act?

After my last post detailing TVL’s response to my FOI request, I did a little digging back through my emails as I was pretty sure I’d made previous requests which had gone unanswered. It turns out, not only have I made a couple of requests which TVL have tried to avoid answering, until I either reminded them that they were obliged to answer under ‘The Act’, or until the complaint was escalated, but they appear to have a little issue with consistency.

You all know about my plight regarding TVL’s WOIRA breaches and ensuing trespass, but I’ve been struggling to get them to admit to the second visit (there were 3 in total, but they maintain there were only two). This visit happened in December a few years back and when I asked them for confirmation, they denied it every happened and claimed the last time they were in my local area was October that year. I asked them to double check these records and was given the same response- I was even told that the visitor was a TVL impostor as it was not one of their employees!

It was only recently that I brought the issue up again, making another FOI request which was finally answered (well outside of the time limit). In their response, however, they contradict their previous reply by admitting that yes, in fact, there were TVL sales reps in my area on the December date in question. Since I only deal with them in writing, I now have proof of this and not to worry, it has been sent of the the ICO (Information Commissioners Office), as altering information in such a way as I believe TVL did, may well be a criminal offence.

How lovely. I’ve also escalated my TVL complaint to the BBC Trust and am still awaiting their reply.

FOI Request finally answered! Very interesting!

BBC’s Information Policy & Compliance department have finally been notified of my FOI request and have responded with a very interesting little bit of information. TVL have been reluctant to answer any of my FOI requests, even lying in some circumstances to say they don’t need to. There’s probably a very good reason for that. I have been questioning a third alleged breach of a WOIRA, where they said there was no record of someone having attended my property and therefore, no breach. I insisted that I wasn’t making it up, with my housemate having answered the door upon which she saw the TVL rep’s ID. I thought it was probably best that I rephrase the question in that case, asking TVL instead if it was possible that someone visited my property and if there were any sales reps in the area on that date.

It turns out that whilst they can’t speculate on the ‘possibilities’ of a visit on that day, they did confirm that their reps were in the area on the date in question. How very interesting. Perhaps I wasn’t so delusional after all …. or maybe it was a ghost of TVL past come to warn me of future trespasses. Either way, as far as I’m concerned, their sustained attempts to avoid answering the WOIRA, fact that a rep was in the area on that date and statement from my housemate to confirm one did visit my property is all the proof I need to confirm a third breach. This means I have new grounds on which to found a case for harassment, where TVL have shown a ‘course’ of action (e.g. 2 or more attempts) over time.

You can all imagine that at this point, I would find any legal advice very helpful! If anyone knows Michael Shakespeare at all through another forum, I would be very interested to hear what lawyer defended him, as I’ve heard him say that lawyer claimed to have successfully prosecuted TVL in the past on grounds of harassment. So Mr M Shakey, you are needed here! Please do pop in and give us your valued opinion, along with my fellow beloved ‘naggers’. Thanks all for reading!

My posts and legal disclaimer

Hi again!

I just thought perhaps it would be wise to issue some sort of legal disclaimer and tell you a little more about my posts. As most of you know, I edit out any personal information, including both my own and that of TVL, for obvious reasons of privacy. I also edit some of the posts for spelling/ grammatical mistakes and take out any unnecessary information. I would however like to assure everyone that the content is always the same as the original in terms of it’s meaning and any changes are only very minor. Whilst I love sharing my experience with you guys in the hope that it is both useful and interesting, I do not take any legal responsibility for how this information is used.

Just thought I’d mention that in case anyone was wondering!

Again, just to make it clear that any changes are very minor and only in the interest of privacy or removing basic mistakes- no content is changed as such and any changes, even to spelling, are limited as much as possible.

Compensation further developments!

Welcome back to another instalment of correspondence between myself (The Legal Occupier) and TV Licensing. This time, we have a little movement on the £75 “goodwill gesture”, with an offer of £100. Still not good enough, is it? See for yourself…

I will begin where I last left off in my post ‘A good angle?’. Most frustratingly, there have been many occasions where TVL have failed to reply within their own timescales and this was one of them. After emailing them about the WOIRA (see previous post), I had to prompt them for a reply twice before hearing back:

“Dear TV Licensing,

I am very frustrated at not having received a reply to either of my previous emails. It is obvious that you do not take this matter seriously at all and clear that you are not fully prepared to deal with the matter of trespass I have reported. Further to your goodwill gesture of £75 for the inconvenience I have suffered I have outlined a more acceptable figure below:

£50 for poor administration resulting in me having to make repeated attempts in order to deal with the matter or instigate a reply;

£150 for two notable counts of trespass (a further one being in question to which you have failed to supply further information).

Please ensure this payment is made promptly and I will consider the matter resolved under the agreement that TVL have now registered that their implied right of access has been withdrawn and will not make any further attempts to access my property in the future.

Sincerely,

The legal occupier.”

They finally got back to me with the following:

“Dear Sir or Madam

Thank you for your recent email. I’m sorry for the delay in my response. As I’m sure you will appreciate, we receive extremely high volumes of emails and it would be impractical to be able to read and action each one at the point of receipt. Your email of 17 October 2011 was allocated as a complaint and visits stopped three days later, which we consider was not an unreasonable time period. It was unfortunate that a visit should have been scheduled to take place the day before and I’m very sorry this was the case.

As per my email of 14 December 2012, it’s regrettable that your email of 27 October 2012 regarding the request to stop any further visits to the above address wasn’t updated. Having thoroughly investigated the matter, this was due to human error and our position hasn’t changed since your last email. Again if you still wish to pursue your complaint, you can ask the BBC, to whom we act as agents, to review it. To do so, please write to … Head of Revenue Management….

Yours faithfully,

Operations Director

TV Licensing.”

And so my response…

“Dear TVL,

Unfortunately, failing to update your records swiftly enough does not mean the trespass did not occur. Additionally, I was fobbed off with the excuse that there is a 3 working day time period in which to do action my request,  where the truth was this was the time limit in which to send a ‘reply’. The fact is there are two recorded trespasses and a potential third, so again I ask if it was possible that one of your representatives was in the area and could have knocked at my door on 01/12/11? Please note that this enquiry must be answered under the Freedom of Information Act and I have yet to receive a response.

Furthermore, apart from failing to update your records in due time with regards to right of access, TV Licensing are failing to reply to my emails on time. I have complained about this and the complaints weren’t even replied to in time! It is simply shocking and perhaps the reason TVL receive so many emails is because they are so inefficient in dealing with them. I am sorry to say that and hope you don’t take it personally but you must understand that I am someone who has no desire to engage in the services of TV Licensing, yet here I am having to write email after email to resolve an issue which should have never occurred in the first place! Either TVL are inept at dealing with their administration, leading to the notable inconvenience I have suffered, or they simply do not care about complaints made by the general public and have no interest in taking several instances of trespass seriously.

I however, do take it very seriously when a service I have no involvement with harasses me in my own home against legal restrictions I have put in place. I so far have not seen any evidence that this harassment will discontinue, since the problematic administrative errors continue to occur and if anything, have got worse. With this in mind, I am worried about further visits and have even had to think about installing CCTV on my premises for my own protection. I have noted there have been several public cases where TVL representatives have been violent and abusive and the one who visited threatened to call the police on me and to gain a search warrant (despite there being no evidence to grant one). I even considered buying a TV Licence in my panic, regardless of the fact I do not need one at all, because I was so worried about the whole situation. I was shaken up by the brazen way in which an organisation could ignore legal restrictions to literally bully people in their own homes. This is clearly the state of harassment you operate in order to force people into buying licences they do not need, simply to increase your revenue.

Therefore, you can appreciate that I will not stop until this situation has been fairly resolved. TVL must act responsibly and take account for their actions. I am actually very angry that TVL have seemingly ignored my complaint. Whilst I shall be forwarding my concerns to the Head of Revenue, I do not want my complaint to be fruitlessly passed around so I insist the questions raised in this email are answered first.

Sincerely,

The legal occupier.”

OK, so this is going to be a long one but there are quite a few emails. Sorry for my boring presentation, but again, here is their reply:

“Dear Sir or Madam

Thank you for your email of 16 January. To clarify the points you’ve raised I’ve answered them in bullet points below.

* “Failing to update our records swiftly enough does not mean the trespass did not occur” – As mentioned in my previous email it’s impractical to be able to read and action each email at the point of receipt. Visits were stopped to **your address** three days after your email requesting this, which we consider wasn’t unreasonable.

* “If it was possible that one your representatives was in the area and could have knocked at my door on 01/12/11?” – As I have previously stated there is no record of our officers visiting your premises on 1 December 2011 nor was there one assigned to do so around that period. To explain our officers are assigned to visit on a monthly basis, your address was not one of those so there would be no reason for an officer to even attempt to call.

* … “this enquiry must be answered under the Freedom of Information Act…” – To clarify the Freedom of Information Act is available for general questions, statistics, policies etc that are held by public authorities, the Act doesn’t extend to specific data relating to a single address. You may apply under the Data Protection Act 1998 for any information held against your name/ address upon payment of the requisite fee. However, as I’ve already stated there is no record of a visit on 1 December 2011 to **your address**.

* “I have complained about this and the complains weren’t even replied to in time!” – Again I’m sorry your complaints were not handled more quickly, I acknowledge this in my previous email and apologised for the delay.

* “I am someone who has no desire to engage in the services of TV Licensing, yet here I am having to write email after email to resolve an issue which should have never occurred in the first place!” – We’ve taken your complaint very seriously, apologised for the records not being updated and updated our files, there is no need for you to write again to resolve the issue. We’ve made our final position clear in my previous emails and offered to send you £75.00 goodwill payment. As advised if you’re unhappy with this and still wish to issue legal proceedings please serve them to **our legal team**.

* “I so far have not seen any evidence that this harassment will discontinue… I am worried about further visits and have even had to think about installing CCTV… I even considered buying a TV Licence in my panic” – I can assure you that our records have been updated and you won’t receive any further visits. We would also not expect you to purchase a licence if you didn’t need it.

* “I was shaken up by the brazen way in which an organisation could ignore legal restrictions to literally bully people in their own homes” – It’s unfortunate that our records weren’t updated as a result of your email in October 2012 and again we’re sorry that this happened, we would  never ignore a customers email on purpose and again this was human error. We have a responsibility to ensure that a valid licence is in place where one is required. It’s also an important part of our role to identify addresses where licence cover isn’t needed. We have no intention to bully people in their own homes and into purchasing a licence. We do everything possible to respect the rights and privacy of individuals. When told a licence is not needed, the process we follow it the fairest and most consistent approach we can take, whilst meeting our responsibilities. A licence is a legal requirement and we would be remiss if we did not make every appropriate effort to reduce licence evasion.

Thank you again for contacting me, should you wish me to issue the £75.00 goodwill payment please let me know what name to make this payable to.

Yours faithfully,

Operations Director

TV Licensing.”

I then decided to escalate my complaint to the Head of Revenue Management as follows:

“Dear HRM,

I am writing to escalate a complaint with TV Licensing whereby they trespassed onto my property twice following a withdrawal of their implied rights of access (WOIRA). The most recent trespass happened at **my address** on **this date** when a Mr Annoying visited my property. During this visit, I informed him that I had issued a WOIRA and that he was now trespassing, however, he continued to ask to enter my property and even threatened to come back with the police and a search warrant. You can understand I found this quite upsetting, especially since I have no need for a TV licence and it even made me consider buying one. I believe these type of tactics are used to bully people into buying a licence regardless of whether or not one is required. I have already felt harassed by the numerous and threatening communication I had received from TVL, one such letter even threatening to take me to court. That is why I issued the WOIRA on **this date** to pre-empt any further harassment following threats of a home-visit. This request was however ignored. I have mental health problems which this type of unnecessary stress affects, so I am looking to be compensated for TVL’s actions. I have been informed that TVL failed to update my records and that this was a one-off administrative error, however, had this been true, TVL would not have failed to reply to several of my emails, requiring me to write again in order to prompt a response. You can imagine this has been quite a time-consuming process, simply to ensure that as someone who has a medical condition affected by stress, I am not harassed in my own home by a company I have no dealings with.

This also happened at my previous address at **here**, where a representative called at my home on **this date** following a WOIRA on **this date**. I was told initially that there was a 3-day handling period for emails and that is why their records had not been updated, but this in itself is untrue as TVL’s confirmation email states that a ‘reply’ will be received within 3 days without giving a time limit for updating records. When sending a legal notice via email, it is received immediately and therefore, effective immediately. If TVL were unable to action that request in time, they should have made this clear on their website or in their confirmation email, so that I could have taken alternative measures.

I have outlined the compensation I wish to receive in order to cover my time, stress and inconvenience, whilst ensuring TVL have taken my matter seriously and will not bother me again in the future. The total amount I wish to be compensated is £200 as follows:

£50 for poor administration meaning I had to write numerous times to get a response;

£75 for each act of trespass.

Sincerely,

The Legal Occupier.”

Again, big surprise, their reply was late, but when it did come it was pretty well thought out in all fairness:

“Dear Sir or Madam,Thank you for your email of 29 January. I was very concerned to hear that an officer from TV Licensing had called your address after you had withdrawn the implied right of access to your property. I can understand how upsetting this must have been and I hope you will accept my apologies for this error.

As you know, you sent an email to TV Licensing on 17 October 2012, withdrawing the implied right of access to your property. TV Licensing received your email, but their records show that no action was taken. This was unacceptable and I can see from your correspondence with TV Licensing that they have apologised to you and have explained that this was due to human error.

As TV Licensing took no action following receipt of your email, an officer called because your address had been without a TV Licence for some time. Any complaint about a visiting officer is taken very seriously and TV Licensing would pass details to the manager of the officer concerned so that they can investigate matters and take any appropriate action. As you’re aware, the officer who carried out a visit to your home is no longer employed by TV Licensing; however, in view of the concern this visit caused, TV Licensing offered to send you a cheque for £75, as a gesture of goodwill.

In your email, you have also referred to a visit to your previous address. TV Licensing received your email dated 17 October 2011, in which you withdrew their implied right of access to your property. They updated their records and replied to you on 20 October. Unfortunately, before you sent your email to TV Licensing, an officer had already been scheduled to visit your address and I understand he called on 19 October and spoke to your house mate.

TV Licensing’s officers were not asked to call at your address again and there is no record of a second visit on 1 December 2011.

I appreciate that you feel that the withdrawal of the right of access to your property should have been effective immediately your email was sent. I should however clarify that TV Licensing aims to respond to emails within three working days and I do think it was reasonable for them to have updated their records and replied to you within this time frame.

You have mentioned that TV Licensing failed to reply to several of your emails which meant that you had to write again to prompt a response. I can confirm that TV Licensing aims to respond to all complaints within eight days but I can see that they did not reply to your email dated 27 October 2012. There was also a delay in TV Licensing responding to your emails of 29 November 2012 and 29 December 2012. This is not the level of service that we expect for our customers and I am sorry for the inconvenience caused to you.

I note that you have mentioned that you have mental health problems which are affected by stress and that you would like to be compensated. You have asked for payments of £75 for each act of trespass and £50 for poor administration. As I have explained, TV Licensing could not have been expected to have updated their records with your withdrawal of the implied right of access, by 19 October 2011 when their officer called. However, their officer should not have called at your current address and I hope you will accept my apologies for this error.

I understand that your email of 9 December 2011 contained a Freedom of Information (FOI) request and that TV Licensing provided you with a response on 13 December which did not formally address your request under the FOI Act. You then had a number of email exchanges with TV Licensing over the year and in your email of 16 January 2013, you again requested that your enquiry was responded to under the FOI Act. I note however that TV Licensing provided you with another response on 25 January which did not formally address your request.

I can see that your requests for information were not dealt with appropriately and I apologise for any inconvenience this has caused you. I can also assure you that matters will be raised with the relevant managers to ensure that improvements are made for the future. Please note that your FOI request is being dealt with separately and you will receive a reply from the BBC Information, Policy and Compliance Team in due course.

While I cannot agree with your request for a payment of £200, it is clear that you have received poor customer service and I will ask TV Licensing to send you a cheque for £100.  Please let me know who the cheque should be made payable to, so that I can arrange this for you.

Thank you for contacting me.

Yours sincerely,

Head of Revenue Management”

Very interesting! I also got a reply for the FOI team saying that my request had just been passed onto them… I guess better late than never! Any way, here is my final reply (let’s hope) before things probably go to either the BBC Trust or court.

“Dear HRM,

Thank-you for your email. I am very appreciative of all the work you have done to look into my case and grateful for your detailed response. However, it is unfortunate that we are not able to agree on an amount for compensation. I believe that the £200 I had proposed was vastly underestimated as it is and with TV Licensing continuing to make sustained administrative errors, I will in all likelihood be seeking further compensation at this point.

Again, whilst I am thankful for your response, I must maintain my position and in light of these significant administrative errors which have led to my harassment, I will be seeking compensation under the Protection from Harassment Act. Whilst I am aware that this act does not usually apply in cases where, for instance, TVL are pursuing the licensing fee in the interest of detecting or preventing crime, I believe that my case is individual. As you are aware, I have surmounting evidence against TVL for actions which I believe clearly constitute harassment, for example, having a TVL sales representative threaten me at my own home in spite of a legal restriction. I would therefore be able to prove that TVL breaches their own codes of conduct, even breaching legal restrictions and this would constitute harassment since I have no obligation to correspond with TVL in any way, yet have been targeted on many occasions with increasingly threatening actions which I believe were designed to threaten me into buying a licence regardless of its necessity.

Even if TVL would argue that their actions did not constitute harassment, as an organisation they must operate within a set of rules and they have failed to do this on numerous occasions. It is therefore with regret that I must conclude that despite our best efforts to resolve this complaint, I will be looking to escalate matters to the BBC Trust and possibly, through court action.

Sincerely,

The Legal Occupier.”

Phew, well that’s it for now! As always, lets put our heads together and share opinions on this matter. I really do look forward to your comments, so please make the time if you can – go team work lol 🙂 Until next time, cheerio!

A good angle?

Hello again fellow naggers! 🙂

Just writing to update the situation since TVL’s most recent reply (as copied in the below post ‘An Inspector Calls’). Well, as you know I asked for your opinions on the amount of compensation I should be seeking and whether or not to take court action. I have taken on board your suggestions and will be seeking legal advice on 2nd January, but until then, I am seeing where I can get by myself (with your help!). I have drawn up a few points as a ‘compensation inventory’ as it were and will pop these in after I tell you about my latest email served over the net (oooh unintentional pun!)

Firstly, this is a copy of TVL’s automated email response:

“Thank you for your email. We will respond to your email within 3 business days. If you are making a complaint we’ll need time to fully investigate it and you will receive a response within 8 working days. If you need to contact us regarding this matter, please include this email’s unique reference number in the body of your reply email.

If you are notifying us of a change of address, please be aware that we will not send a replacement licence, as the current one is still valid until expiry. All future correspondence will be sent to the new address.

Thank you

TV Licensing Email Team”

Hopefully that will clarify my following email a bit, so I put it in first. And here is the email I sent back (it may be easier to read their latest reply before reading this, but I didn’t want to put these all together as I think my posts get a bit crowded!):

“Dear TVL,

Thank-you for your reply and for looking into my previous emails. I would like to query a point you made regarding the withdrawal of your implied right of access on 17/10/11 and subsequent visit to my property. You state that ***** actioned my request within the allocated time scale and that during that time, I received a visit from one of your representatives as this has been scheduled prior to my email and your records had not been updated at that point. Whilst I understand that TVL are excusing the visit on the basis of a handling period, I would like to highlight the actual wording of the email as saying, more specifically, that you will “respond” to an email within “3 business days”. However, as you can appreciate a response (e.g. a reply) is not the same as updating your records. Regardless of when a response was issued, when emailing a legal notice it would have been sent and received immediately and therefore, should have been effective immediately. Your automated response does not clarify a time period for dealing with requests, but simply for replying to them. You can understand that if a company emailed me with a legal restriction and I did not check my emails for 3 days, the legal restriction would have still been effective regardless of whether or not I had read it. The fact is that you had been informed that I had withdrawn your implied right of access and continued to visit my property. It is not my responsibility to ensure you update your records in a timely manner, but to ensure I have provided you with the relevant information to do so.

Therefore, I maintain that the recent visit from one of your representatives is one of many breaches of a withdrawal of your implied right of access. Whilst I may not be able to verify the name of your representative when my house-mate answered the door, she did see his ID card and will be able to provide me with a statement in court. It may be that he knocked on the wrong door, so again, I kindly ask if your representatives were in the area on 01/12/11 and if it would have been possible that one of them knocked at my door.

Sincerely,

The Legal Occupier.”

If I can press my point here, this would make it the second time TVL has ignored my WOIRA and admitted it. Maybe even the third!

OK, so now for my breakdown of compensation. As you all know, the TVL officer threatened me with a search warrant and I count this as further proof of harassment (a search warrant would not have been granted without any evidence to suspect licence fee evasion). Secondly, TVL failed to reply to a few of my emails, the first failure resulting in the breach as they had not updated their records. Thirdly, I count this as one of many breaches and as someone with mental health problems, maintain that the unnecessary stress actually affects a medical condition.

My main angle of course is the trespass, but does this in any way come under the Protection from Harassment Act? The act stipulates that an action is not harassment when done in the interest of preventing or detecting a crime. Watching TV without a licence is, as stated on TVL’s website, ‘a criminal offence’. Therefore, TVL theoretically would be allowed to pursue such measures as long as they can do so lawfully and in line with the act. However, is writing to someone 30 times a year really a reasonable measure? What about threatening them? Their letters, I still maintain, are not ‘enquiries’ as TVL adamantly state, but direct threats for court action (see previous posts). Furthermore, unlawfully entering my property in breach of a WOIRA would count as harassment, wouldn’t it? Or would this solely come under trespass? And if so, what type of trespass?

My other point is that if TVL is acting reasonably, like any ‘authority’ (such as the DVLA), then there must be a point at which their enquiry is initiated and then, satisfied. At what point, as I have asked TVL before, would their enquiry be ‘satisfied’ in the case of a ‘no licence needed’ household? You are not legally obliged to update TVL’s records if you do not need a licence. Therefore, two courses of action are available to you. Saying that a) you do reply, your records will be updated and TVL will not write to you for almost 2 years. They do however reserve the right to use alternative methods of detection and to visit your property. Or b), you ignore them and they continue to threaten you until they send someone round.

OK, so citizen A we shall call him is the do-good, time for everything citizen who has chosen to go along with TVL’s ‘investigation’. He has now replied to say ‘no licence needed’ and has a visit scheduled from one of their sales representatives. At this point, we might see that the investigation has escalated from letter-writing to home-visits, depending on which is more invasive (the latter, I believe). So happy-go-lucky citizen A lets TVL into his house and they have a snoop around. They see no TV set and get no evidence. Citizen A makes them a tea and they leave, chuckling about the weather and the current price of petrol. Is citizen A now crossed off TVL’s books? Enquiry over? Nope. They can come back at a later time. In theory, citizen A could just go out and buy a TV to watch the minute Mr TVL steps off his porch. So when are they coming back? How can citizen A prove his is NOT doing something? Imagine a shop, for instance. Prove you have NOT stolen something? It is not in your bag, but maybe you have hidden it any where else in the world and we will continue to look until we find it. Well, it’s not possible to satisfy such an enquiry. Citizen A is now being watched with a ‘detector van’, having regular visits to his front door and in less than 2 years, will receive another bombardment of communication from TVL. So what can he do?

Well, citizen B thinks he has the answer. He ignores all of TVL’s ‘enquiries’. He writes to withdraw their implied right of access (not always successful as we have proven!) and he sits back to enjoy a hassle-free life. TVL may stop writing to him. They might not visit (!) but they will still spy on him with a ‘detector van’. They are not happy that he does not need nor will he ever need a TV licence and do not trust either citizen A or B to inform them should this change.

So what does citizen C do? Yes, I have just invented said citizen to liven up the mix! Citizen C is rolling in cash and has no time for arguing. He pays for a licence regardless or whether or not he needs one and hey ho, no more TV Licensing pursuing his every action! He is finally free, enquiry satisfied for a whole year of peace…

I hope, without being too sarcastic in my above example, that this shows how TVL’s actions could be shown as being unreasonable and could amount to harassment, where there is no possible option for proving you do not need a licence and for stopping all further contact in any form.

So, sorry again for the exhaustively long post, but once again I’m waiting by my computer for your comments and wise-words (quite literally, so hurry up!)

An Inspector Calls… Correspondence for TV Licensing’s latest trespass

Hi all,

In addition to my previous posts entitled “Updates *finally!*” and the subsequent, “TV Licensing have made me an offer…”, I thought you guys would be interested to see the full correspondence up until this point. Enjoy!

Email to enquiries@tvlicensing.co.uk withdrawing their implied right of access (27/10/12):

“Dear TV Licensing,

I am hereby writing to withdraw your implied right of access to my property at ***wouldn’t you like to know!***. Please note that any breach of this notice will be considered as wilful trespass and treated as such.

Thank-you for your understanding with this matter.

Sincerely,

The Legal Occupier.”

I received an automated response/ email receipt from TVL but no reply, breeching TVL’s policy to reply within 3 working days. I twiddled my thumbs for the next month and on 26th November, one of their sales reps knocked at my door asking to come in and nose around in the privacy of my own home. As you all know, I told him to get packing and our little exchange has been noted in my previous post, so as much as I like talking I won’t go over it again.

So I volleyed this back over the net to see what they had to say for themselves  on 26/11/12:

“Dear TV Licensing,

Please find below a copy of my original email to you date 27/10/12 and the subsequent confirmation email received the same day. I my email I clearly stated that I had withdrawn your implied right of access to visit my property, however, I regret to inform you that one of your representatives, a ***Mr Naughty Pants***, called at my door today at around 13:10. I informed ***Mr Pants*** that I had withdraw any right of access and that he was currently trespassing. Instead of heeding this information, he continued to ask about viewing my property and when I mentioned that I would be contacting the police, he quickly remarked that he would be doing the same. I told him that I did not require his assistance, however he responded that it was not for me, but for him to obtain a search warrant- despite not being allowed onto my property and furthermore, not seeing any evidence that I had been evading the licence fee, since I am not.

You are aware that I am not legally obliged to respond to TV Licensing or to allow any of their representatives into my property. I do not wish to be harassed in my own home either and the situation today has left me very anxious and upset. I have been paranoid all day that this man will return, bringing the police with him, despite knowing that I have done nothing wrong. It is simply disgusting for a company to conduct themselves in this way and I will not be fobbed off with any excuses so please don’t attempt to give me any. I do not know of any other business who would feel within their rights to harass people in their own homes and ignore legal restrictions put in place.

I am therefore, as you can understand, taking this matter very seriously. I suffer from mental health problems and do not need this unnecessary aggravation and worry over something I pre-empted with my email below, which it seems you have ignored. I am now counting this act of wilful trespass as harassment and wish to be compensated duly. I also expect that this complaint will be logged and that I will receive no further visits from your organisation or anyone on their behalf.

Sincerely,

The Legal Occupier.”

TVL, not one to be concerned with my emails it seems, also ignored this email. I then phoned them and got a letter in return (dated 28th November), which I have typed out for you in my own time because, well, I spoil you really 😉

“Dear Sir/ Madam,

Thank you for your recent phone call, details of which have been recorded under your complaint reference ####. Please use this number if you wish to contact us again.

I’m sorry you received a recent visit from our officer.

I’ve looked into this for you and found that we didn’t have a record of you withdrawing our right of access last month by email. However, I now note your wish to withdraw the implied right of access for TV Licensing’s officers to approach your property.

You won’t receive any more letters from us for almost two years, apart from the one further letter confirming this.

TV Licensing don’t permanently stop writing to any address as circumstances change over time, and the occupier may change. We’ll get in touch after this time to confirm if you still live at the address and that your circumstances haven’t changed.

It would be helpful for us to have a record of your name to allow us to confirm that you are the occupier. We want to ensure that our database is accurate, up to date and also that if we write to the address in the future, we can confirm that you are still the occupier.

I would be grateful if you’d confirm receipt of this letter, quoting the above reference and providing your full name. I’ve enclosed a prepaid envelope for your reply.

We won’t visit you, although we reserve the right to use other methods available for the detection of television receiving equipment.

There’s a chance that another enquiry letter has been prepared for posting. If this arrives, please ignore it.

Thank you for the time you’ve taken in helping us update our records and I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Customer Relations (TVL).”

Well, that was very nice of them except they wriggle out of responsibility for not recording my email, making it sound like it was never sent. They also seem quite adamant that they need my personal details to update their records… I wonder why. What if I got my name changed by deed poll to The Legal Occupier? Barrels of laughs (or maybe not).

“So then what happened?” I hear you cry with bated breath! Well, hold on to the seat of your pants because I then got another letter from them, as promised, laid out in green and thanking me for ‘getting in touch’, a lovely contrast to one of their earlier ‘enquiries’ entitled “WARNING: YOU MAY BE BREAKING THE LAW”. Thankfully that’s been cleared up then, phew!

Any way, despite TVL not replying to my emails, I did reply to their letter as requested on 29th November:

Dear TV Licensing,

I am writing to confirm receipt of your letter dated 28/11/12. Whilst I am grateful for your apology and for ensuring that I will receive no further communication or visits, I do not feel the situation has been fully rectified. I also note that you mention there was no record of withdrawing your implied right of access last month, however, I am unsure whether or not you mean that this simply was not recorded or that you did not receive my email. Just in case, you can find a copy of the original email below, dated 27th October. In this email, I did state that any attempt to access my property following the withdrawal of your implied right of access would be treated as trespass and having made you aware of this I am sorry to say I will be pursuing matters further.

I do appreciate your response and note that you are now dealing with the situation, however, I would still like to clarify my reasons for withdrawing your implied right of access. As I said in my previous email, I suffer from mental health problems and am quite susceptible to anxiety when put in stressful situations. Having received various letters from yourselves which finally graduated to threats of a home visit, I emailed to withdraw your right to attend my property instead in an effort to pre-empt any stress which in my case, affects a medical condition. I also note that I am not legally obliged to respond to any of your enquiries, as someone who does not need a license, but had I chosen to update your records accordingly, I could still have faced a home-visit, so I did not find this an appropriate solution at the time. Knowing that my email put legal restrictions in place, I hoped it would be honoured. However, this is obviously not the case and as I said previously, I will be taking it very seriously as I have felt harassed in my own home and would like to be duly compensated.

When you representative did call, I reminded him that he was not legally allowed to be on my property and even then, he did not leave but continued to ask about entering. Not only was there a legal restriction in place, but having been told this, he remained and continued about his business. When I then politely informed him I would have to report the situation to the police, he became quite adamant that he was going to do the same and attempt to re-enter my property at a later point, this time with a search warrant. You can understand that not only was he not allowed to be there in the first place, he was now threatening to come back with the police. This is truly unacceptable in my (and I believe, anyone’s) opinion. I spent the rest of the day looking over my shoulder out of my lounge window whenever someone came by, worrying that he had returned.

As you can understand, I am seeking compensation for the stress and harassment I feel I have suffered and which I have done everything to avoid. Please let me know your final response to this complaint, as if it proves unsatisfactory I will have to escalate matters accordingly.

Thank-you for your time,

The Legal Occupier.”

I did surprisingly get an email reply on the 11th December, informing me that my complaint had been escalated. On the 18th, they then sent me the following email:

“Dear Sir or Madam,

Thank-you for your recent email. In line with our escalation procedure your complaint has been passed on for my attention. I understand that you contacted us in October to record your withdrawal of the implied right for us to visit your property. I note that since then you’ve received a visit from one of our officers and you’re unhappy with the way this visit was conducted.

Having investigated the matter it would appear that we did receive your email of 27 October but regrettably the request to stop any further visits didn’t happen. As such because your address had been without a TV Licence for some time, the officer was asked to confirm the situation and ensure our records were up to date.

I note your description of the visit and would assure you that we expect our staff to carry out their duties in a polite, professional and accurate manner. All officer are regularly monitored to ensure that working instructions are followed.

Normally, any complaint regarding an officer will be raised with their manager for investigation, but the officer who called on you in November is no longer an employee of TV Licensing.

The officer would have explained the procedure to follow when a customer withdraws the implied right of access. Their manager has advised that the officer was new to the role and this may have been his first time in dealing with this situation. Unfortunately as he has left we’re unable to investigate further or provide his account of the visit.

It is regrettable that the visit occurred because our records weren’t updated and I’m sorry if this has caused you any concern or worry. Looking to your request for compensation, I’d like to make it clear that we’re unable to make such payments. That said if we have made an error, and feel that inconvenience to someone could have been prevent, we would consider a monetary amount as a goodwill gesture. As such I can arrange for a cheque to be sent to you separately for £30.00 as a gesture of goodwill. So that I can issue this please let me know to whom this cheque should be payable.

In closing, I am grateful to you for having brought your concerns to my attention, as any feedback that we receive is much appreciated. I hope that my reply helps to demonstrate our commitment to providing a high standard of customer service. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Operations Director TVL.”

How lovely of them, so I replied:

“Dear TV Licensing,

Thank-you for your reply. Unfortunately, whilst I appreciate you have gone some way to resolving this situation, I don’t feel that a cheque for £30 would fully compensate the stress and harassment I have suffered at your expense as I don’t feel it fully takes into account the scale of this situation. I appreciate that ***Mr Pants*** has now resigned from your company and that you can no longer investigate his behaviour, but whilst this may be the case it was TV Licensing’s administrative error which meant he was dispatched to my house in the first place. It is simply unacceptable to ignore a request withdrawing a right of access, an error which has led to me being harassed in my own home as someone who suffers from mental health and anxiety-based problems.

I don’t feel that TV Licensing is currently grasping that whilst it is one thing to send continuous letters and threats to an unlicensed property- something I do not agree with- it is quite another to break the law and attend that property in breach of explicitly implied restrictions. You are aware that not only does this constitute trespass, it is also in contravention of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

Had this been a one off situation, it might be regrettable but to some extent, forgiveable. However, this has already happened to me twice in the past, as the legal occupier of ***it’s a secret***, where TV Licensing attended my property within 2 days of my email to restrict their right of access, excusing themselves by saying they have a 3 day handling period. They then attempted to access my property again, showing their ID to a house-mate of mine and claiming no such event occurred when I reported the situation back to them. I count this as the third breach and the only excuse TV Licensing can provide me with this time is that they failed to acknowledge my email. Basically, that they could not be bothered. I see this as a flagrant disregard for my privacy in my own home and as TV Licensing holding themselves well above the law in order to collect their funding, regardless of the potential harassment this causes people like me, who genuinely have no requirement for a TV Licence.

Not only is it bad enough that my original request was ignored, my complaints have not been dealt with in line with your own policy, aiming to reply within 8 working days. You will note that some replies were altogether absent and some, late. I don’t believe these are the actions of a company who is truly concerned with the way their actions affect others, as I feel ‘fobbed off’ with a £30 cheque as if we can forget a breach of the law ever happened.

Whilst you note you are unable to make a payment for compensation, I must highlight the fact that at the moment, I have very strong grounds under which to take TV Licensing to court for harassment and trespass, both of which, providing I am successful, would provide me with financial compensation for the stress and inconvenience I have experienced through what you admit, was an error on your behalf.

However, I would be prepared to discuss a more reasonable figure which takes into account the sustained harassment I feel I have received from your company, including 3 breaches of a right of access restriction, constant threatening letters, threats of court action, threats of covert surveillance and threats of a police search warrant.

Sincerely,

The Legal Occupier.”

OK… so I know this is another saga, but trust me, we’re nearly there. Go make a cuppa or something and then come back for these emails:

“Dear Sir or Madam,

Thank you for responding to my email of 14 December, I’m sorry you’re unhappy with the amount of goodwill I suggested.

I would also like to thank you for bringing the matter regarding your previous address to my attention, I wasn’t aware that this had happened to your previously.

I’ve looked at all the previous emails you sent and the responses you received in relation to your old address. As you know we will respond to your email within three business days or if you’re making a complaint you’ll receive a response within eight working days. I can appreciate that the replies you received recently were not within this timescale and I’m sorry if this has caused any unnecessary inconvenience.

I understand that you emailed us on 17 October 2011 at 16:32 to record your withdrawal of the implied right for us to visit your property. An automatic email was sent informing you how long it would take for you to receive a response. On 20 October 2011 **** responded to your request and updated our records to stop any further visits, this was actioned within the timescales we advised you. It should be noted that the visit you received on 19 October 2011 was actually allocated to the address on 12 October 2011 before you emailed us on 17 October.

I can also see that you expressed some concerns over your house mate receiving a further visit on 1 December 2011 at about 6pm. *** investigated this and found that this visit was not made by one of our officers, I’ve also checked this and this was correct. The last contact *** made with you was an email dated 19 October 2011 asking you that if your house mate can remember the Visit Party number this would be useful to us, as we didn’t receive any further information we weren’t able to investigate this.

Having looked into this in more detail and with all the information available to me, I feel appropriate to arrange a goodwill payment of £75.00. However, to enable me to arrange this you will need to advise us of your name or whoever you want the cheque payable to.

I should advise that this amount is a full and final offer on which we will not negotiate, if you’re unhappy with this and still wish to issue legal proceedings please serve them to the following address:

Legal Team,

Capita Business Services etc.

Thank you again for contacting me, I hope my reply has answered your questions. If you now wish to pursue your complaint, you can ask the BBC, to whom we act as agents, to review it. To do so, please write to Pippa Doubtfire, Head of Revenue Management, etc.

Yours faithfully,

Operations Director,

TV Licensing.”

Phew, OK so my eyes are on fire for staring at the screen and typing for that long so thank you for bearing with me. I hope this helps anyone who’s in the same position to me and if anyone would like any advice or to know who to contact, please leave a comment below or message me in private (not sure how to on wordpress ;S)

As always, updates will follow… finally!

TV Licensing have made an offer…

Hi all,

I am in need of some advice once again. TV Licensing have made an original offer of £30 as a ‘goodwill’ gesture for the inconvenience I have suffered. You can imagine I replied to tell them this was not sufficient and I did not feel it took into account the severity of the situation. They have now replied with an offer of £75. My main problem however is not really the money, it’s the fact that they are getting away with these actions and there is nothing to really stop them. As you all know, this blog is not just to help me but everyone who has been suffering the same type of harassment from this company who will, it seems, stop at nothing to collect their fee. I know it’s been said before, but ‘had I been some old woman’ I would have easily been sacred into purchasing a licence that day their sales rep popped round and threatened me with a police search warrant.

So guys, what do you think I should do? £75 is a lowly amount to TVL who no doubt, will continue with their set ways. However, if I do pursue this further and take them to court, what will the court rule? I cannot know, but I do know I have a case. It’s just whether or not a judge will find that £75 was a reasonable offer and I should have accepted it. I doubt that though- I think there should be a hefty fine for TVL and their structure should be reviewed.

Any thoughts?