Two separate accounts here - highlighting the differences between engaging the forces of bureaucracy and trying to ignore them. As you can see, the difference is hard to perceive, except for our second victim who now has a slightly higher phone bill than our first.
This is the mark of a true bureaucracy - whether or not you engage with it does not matter, it has satisfied an internal process and just carries on to its next hapless victim.
The space where the TV was
Having declined several opportunities to obtain a TV Licence - I don't actually have a TV and I refuse to phone them to tell them I don't have one (who does one phone to report, for example, that one does not possess a car or a freezer?), I finally replied to one of their threatening missives. Apparently, licencing vans were "in YOUR area SOON!" so I invited them to come around and have a cup of tea, suggesting that together we could look at the space where the TV had once stood.
After several more reminders and a change of address, a representative called, barged past me into the house and then left abruptly, informing me that there was no TV and that we would be "left alone for three years or so".
Having not watched the dross belching from my TV screen for many months, I figured it was a waste of time hanging on to the set. This left me with two months to run on my TV Licence, on the reverse of which was a suggestion that I might be entitled to some kind of refund. I wrote to 'the powers that be' and explained my situation, only to be told that no refund was available as they can only be given in periods of 3 months. I swallowed that with a little indignation, but hey - I'm not going to get all worked up for �20.
Within a couple of weeks I got a red letter. My house was registered as having no TV Licence (as if I didn't know) and I had 7 days to ring and explain. Failure to do so would result in my details being passed on to their Orwellian-sounding "enforcement officers".
I was getting annoyed. I had already explained my situation adequately by mail, so why should I write or ring to explain again? It would all cost me money and they had already had �20 out of me for nothing.
I swallowed my annoyance and rang the number. The conversation went something like this:
Some guy: "Why are you ringing this number"
Me: "Coz I was asked to by letter"
SG: "What letter?"
Me: "A red letter, asking me to explain why I have no TV Licence"
SG: "Why haven't you got a TV Licence?"
Me: "Because I don't own or have on my premises any receiving equipment, so I don't need one"
SG: "If you have got any equipment..."
Me: "I just said I don't"
SG:: "I just said if you have got any equipment..."
Me:"I just said I don't"
SG: "and I just said If you have got any equipment and receive any broadcasts, you will be liable to a fine of up to �1,000. We will be sending someone round to your house to check if you have any equipment"
Me: "I wrote to tell you I have no TV, I have now rung to tell you I have no TV. The fact is clear: I have no TV. I am not worried about you fining me, as I am doing nothing wrong. Good bye"
They sent me a letter saying that someone would call at my home to check whether or not I had any means to receive specific broadcastings. If that person was satisfied that I had no such means, then I would be left alone for three years, after which time the process would begin again.
Now hang on a minute! My home is my home - I don't want some great lumbering gorilla rummaging around for a TV I haven't got. Why should I be treated like a criminal when my only crime is to loathe watching TV?
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