A constant source of amusement for us here at the TV Licensing blog is some of the over-inflated whoppers TV Licensing people come out with during their encounters with the generally uninformed public.
Indeed with swingeing cuts taking their toll at the BBC the way TV Licensing confronts members of the public is now one of the Corporation's most successful comedies.
In the festive spirit of goodwill we thought we'd set the record straight by offering a simple interpretation of some of TV Licensing's favourite statements:
TV Licensing letter says: Your property is under investigation.
TV Licensing letter means: We're not sure who you are or whether you need a licence, but we'll try to scare you into buying one anyway.
TV Licensing letter says: You could face the maximum fine of £1000.
TV Licensing letter means: No-one in the entire world has been fined more than about £150 for licence fee evasion, but hopefully you'll live such a sheltered life that you don't know that. The threat of a £1000 fine might get you to buy a licence you probably don't need.
TV Licensing letter says: We want to ensure you have the information you may need before a hearing is set at your local court.
TV Licensing letter means: You sod. You've not responded to any of our standard letters, not that you're obliged to, so we're going to try even harder to scare you into buying a licence you probably don't need.
TV Licensing man says: We have no record of a TV licence at this address.
TV Licensing man means: Get in! Another sucker who could potentially earn me a few quid if they say the wrong things.
TV Licensing man says: I have the power to inspect your TV equipment.
TV Licensing man means: If I pretend I have the legal power to enter your home, which I don't really, the chances are you might be daft enough to believe me and let me in.
TV Licensing man says: Do you have a TV at this address?
TV Licensing man means: If you admit to having a TV, even one used for a thousand possible non-licensable purposes, then I can probably scare you into buying a licence even if you don't need one.
TV Licensing man says: If you don't talk to me then I'll go and get a search warrant.
TV Licensing man means: Bugger. A wise guy, who knows that I don't have any proper authority. Not much chance of getting my commission on this job, so I'll have to resort to some sweeping claims about getting a search warrant. It'll also make me feel important, for a change, if I say something authoritarian. Of course getting a search warrant requires evidence that I don't have.
TV Licensing man says: I work for the BBC (or Government).
TV Licensing man means: I work for a company called Capita Business Services Ltd, which is contracted to do the BBC's dirty work so it doesn't lose face.
TV Licensing man says: You can't film me.
TV Licensing man means: Bugger. Another wise guy, who knows that as I'm on their property they are well within their rights to film me. I'll try asking them to stop, but I know they don't really have to.
TV Licensing say: We have detector vans that can distinguish between two TV sets either side of a party wall in as little as 20 seconds.
TV Licensing mean: We have equipment we claim can detect TVs, but we remain so unconvinced by the science that we don't want to risk presenting it in court. Consequently detection evidence has never been presented in the prosecution of a suspected licence fee evader. As there are only two people in the BBC that can authorise the use of detection equipment, we rarely bother to use it anyway. We sometimes park detector vans outside people's homes just to scare and intimidate them, particularly those who vocally oppose the BBC or licence fee.