... Use them or have them abused by TV Licensing
Although citizens have a lot of rights when dealing with BBC/TVL, the organisation works on the "use it or we'll ignore it" basis, wherever it can. If you're not aware of your rights, and they have the option to ignore them, they will. So it pays to be well informed and assertive when you
deal with them.
If you do that, you can hold control over most situations with them, and have important insights in the few other situations that might occur.
Generally speaking, everything that BBC/TVL routinely does is non-statutory (has no legislation behind it) and therefore you can ignore it. This includes the threatening letters and the routine "home visits". None of the demands and coercion in the letters has any legal significance and they can all be safely ignored.
If you communicate with them using their Call Centre (either verbally or in writing) you can expect to be treated fairly, although at the limits their culture of incompetence and misinformation can creep in, so be aware that in some critical areas they may not tell you the complete truth.
In the case of open-ended questions, you can expect partial answers, or even that they will decline to answer. The same applies to their Website, which is misleading in places and omits important information, too.
Although there is legislation preventing harassment, BBC/TVL have previously indicated that they believe that their process is exempt from it.
The best thing to do with the letters is to ignore them. If you feel that you can't or shouldn't do that, then you could use one of these remedies:-
- "Cease and Desist" - this is an indication that you will take legal action against them if they continue their conduct. The legal threat doesn't have to be real, and BBC/TVL have honoured such orders in the past.
- Scale of Charges - you can issue BBC/TVL with a scale of costs or charges for dealing with their letters. They will undoubtedly refuse the notice, but once you have sent it, and they have responded with a further threatening letter, you can sue them in the Small Claims Process/Money Claim Online. Where the claim is small, it is likely that it will go undefended.
- Any formal complaint - at present, BBC/TVL cease sending threatening letters when any formal complaint about their conduct is escalated to management level. This is probably the easiest of the three options requiring only one letter and no legal knowledge.
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