TV Licensing "hard man" Mr Grumpy.
The more we watch the YouTube video published yesterday the more we're horrified at the tactics TV Licensing's visiting officer employed during that doorstep confrontation.
The actions of TV Licensing's visiting officers (salesmen) are governed by a document called the TV Licensing Visiting Procedures, a slightly redacted copy of which can be downloaded here. The procedures were drawn up by Capita Business Services Ltd, the TV Licensing operations contractor, and the BBC, the statutory Licensing Authority.
The star of yesterday's video, who we'll call Mr Grumpy until we find out his real name, broke a whole myriad of rules contained within the Visiting Procedures. He made his own rules up on the spot, no doubt to coerce payment from the occupier, thus earning himself a nice little commission payment in the process. In our experience such tactics are not uncommon, despite TV Licensing reassurances to the contrary.
Now for a closer analysis Mr Grumpy's doorstep tactics:
1. The door opens and the occupier asks Mr Grumpy if he minds being filmed. Mr Grumpy replies: "You can't film me. That's breaching my rights, innit?" Strangely he immediately follows up with: "You can film me as much as I want. I have an application for a warrant here."
Mr Grumpy is actually wrong about his opening gambit with chap 2, sect 7.2 of the Visiting Procedures confirming that: "There is no law prohibiting an individual from taking either photographs or video footage of an EO (enquiry officer) conducting a visit on private property.
"Accordingly, the EO should not, under any circumstances, confront or try to prevent an occupant who wishes to do so.
"If an EO finds themselves in a situation where they are being photographed or videod they must remain calm and continue to conduct themselves in a professional manner and ensure that they walk away from the visit as soon as they become aware that they are being filmed or photographed."
As yesterday's footage shows Mr Grumpy broke every rule mentioned above.
2. Mr Grumpy looks a scruff in his jeans. Chap 2, sect 4.5 of the Visiting Procedures clearly states that denim clothing is unacceptable. He can't even follow rules about how to dress properly for work.
3. Mr Grumpy began his visit by threatening: "I have an application for a warrant here." Chap 4, sect 7.7 of the Visiting Procedures clearly states that: "Threat of a search warrant must not be used to gain access to premises." Again, it appears Mr Grumpy is unfamiliar with this rule he should be complying with.
4. Chap 4, sect 1.6 is quite clear that: "EOs must carry their ID Card with them whenever they are carrying out TV Licensing enquiries and must produce it when required."
As footage shows Mr Grumpy was very reluctant to show his ID Card and didn't do so until the occupier had clearly highlighted his obstructiveness on the video audio. Another broken rule.
5. For a second time Mr Grumpy wrongly warns the occupier about filming him, saying: "You can get done for that." Again he follows up with the contradictory statement: "You can film me as much as you want. I'm not bothered."
6. Mr Grumpy frequently waves his imaginary "application for a warrant" around, which is an act designed purely to intimidate the occupier. As mentioned earlier, this is against TV Licensing rules. To further intimidate the occupier Mr Grumpy claims that he's "off to the Magistrates" with his piece of paper.
7. Mr Grumpy departs by again saying: "I'll be back with a warrant. I'll be back with the police."
So all in all Mr Grumpy fell well short of the abysmally low standard Capita expects of its TV Licensing visiting officers.
Imagine if this animal, with his flared nostrils and grunted legal threats, appeared at the door of an elderly relative who genuinely didn't need a licence. In all likelihood they would be so upset by his menacing tone and hollow threats that they'd pay up.
In the interests of balance we should probably highlight the fact that it was wrong of the occupier to goad Mr Grumpy into a doorstep slanging match, despite having the legal home advantage. The best course of action would have been to close the door immediately, but then we wouldn't be aware of the criminal depths Mr Grumpy would stoop to in an effort to secure his commission payment.
The BBC has previously said: "We do not agree that TV Licensing officials intimidate the public."
How detached from reality are they?