Every month, TV licensing sends nasty letters to prospective customers, insinuating that they are breaking the law and that an investigation (and a £1,000 fine plus legal costs) is afoot. It’s marketing gone wrong.
We affectionately call those “threatograms”. I, myself, have received over 20, with headlines ranging from “You risk a court appearance and a criminal prosecution” to “We are giving you 10 days to get correctly licensed” to “Please act before …” to “As we haven’t heard from you, an officer will visit your property soon” to “Will you be in on…”, to “Your address has been scheduled for a visit by an Enforcement Officer” to “Local investigation active in [your postcode]” to “Officers have now been authorised to visit [your postcode]”.
Old threatograms usually bear an ‘Enforcement Officer Visit Approved” seal and a fake signature, a 10 day calendar or a circle highlighting (wrongly) that the conviction rate for TV licence evasion is 99%. All designed to insidiously create a impression of authority and urgency.
But that was before. See their new calling card for yourself:
(Back and front pictured side by side)
It’s red, like Royal Mail’s Missed Delivery cards. It only bear one logo: The Royal Mail’s, and it uses a hand written font to make it look like it was written by your postperson.
It states that the website is available 24hrs, but it deliberately omits to refer to http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk, which would have given the game away.
It insists that this is urgent and that contact should be made ASAP, which is not true because the British public has no duty to inform or assist TV licensing, as confirmed by Matthew Hancock from the Department fro Culture, Media and Sports.
When I received this, I was at home. It totally fooled me, I went rushing after the postman asking him why he left me a card instead of delivering me whatever he was supposed to. That puzzled him too at first but he said it was not one of his cards. I went back home and re-read the whole thing, trying to make sense of it. “Read information inside” was odd, as it was a card. But then I realised it was 2 pieces of paper really well stuck together, so with the use of my nails, I opened it and found the same usual drivel: Fake stamp, check! Threat of an investigation, check! Threat of a £1,000 fine, check! Insinuation that I might be breaking the law, check! Mention of “Enforcement officers”, check! (By the way, TV licence “Enforcement officers” are just glorified sale reps, so give us a break and drop the pompous titles, Beeb! )
The BBC (under their TV licensing umbrella) is using deceit and fear to prey on the vulnerable in order to compensate for the lack of interest for their products. This is a new low, even for them! Who knows the depths they are prepare to sink to manipulate the public!
The BBC needs to realise that people that more and more are switching off. They need to acknowledge that is is legal and that people like me are not “TV licence evaders”: we simply don’t want or need a licence. And if they wants us back as customers, they better change their attitude because there is NOTHING in their junk mail that makes us want to reconnect with them. It’s like trying to catch fly with a vinegar.