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Saturday 1 November 2014

TV Licensing: The Unfairness of Goon Commission Payments

TV Licensing

Some gluttonous TV Licensing goons are routinely playing the system in order to meet strict performance targets and enhance their basic salary.

On Wednesday we highlighted the case of West Midlands care worker Radhika, who was distraught at the prospect of a court appearance after TV Licensing wrongly accused her of dodging the TV licence-fee.

Radhika expressed concern that details recorded on the TVL178 Record of Interview form, which was completed by the TV Licensing goon visiting her home, bore little resemblance to her recollection of events.

Readers might be scratching their heads in disbelief at the idea of TV Licensing goons embellishing records, but it does happen and the flawed system - which the BBC and TV Licensing are fully aware of - actively encourages it.

As reported in the Daily Mail last year, Capita's squadron of TV Licensing enforcers can double their modest basic salary by hard-selling TV licences and collecting evidence of licence-fee evasion. The article, which incorrectly stated that "some 5.8 per cent of households evade the licence fee", explained how some goons make an extra £1,000 a month by hauling suspected licence-fee evaders before the courts.

Information obtained by the TV Licence Resistance forums aptly demonstrates a system wide open to abuse by commission-hungry goons. The information relates to a TV licence appeal, which was heard at Liverpool Crown Court back in December 2010.

A TV Licensing witness statement, tendered in evidence, noted the following: "A full-time Visiting Officer employed for 37.5 hours weekly would be expected to achieve the basic performance standards of 1 licence evader caught every 60 minutes during available hours in any working week. This equates to 38 in a full week. Officers would be expected to achieve that standard of performance as part of their normal duties.

"Payment of commission for any licence sales is secondary to the meeting of the performance standards of 1 evader per hour. Any such additional payment is held aside to be paid if that performance standard is met on a monthly basis."

The statement continued: "The value of commission per sale increases as the numbers of Code 8 cases submitted increases. There are 4 levels of payment per sale linked directly to the number of Code 8 cases submitted."

A "Code 8" is TV Licensing's term for obtaining a prosecution statement from a suspected licence-fee evader. It would appear that goons have a significant financial incentive to nab as many "evaders" as possible, which is no doubt foremost in their mind every time they visit an unlicensed property.

A TV Licensing job advert, shown in the image above, gives an indication of the commission payments available for each TV licence sold. As that document is now a few years old, the payments may well have increased in the meantime. Remember that these payments are in addition to those received for nabbing licence-fee evaders.

We suggest that the TV Licensing commission system is wide open to abuse. As indicated by TV Licensing's witness statement above, there is an expectation that goons will nab at least one TV licence evader every hour of the working week. We consider that a very steep target to achieve, for a conscientious goon playing by the rules.

We know that every TV Licensing visiting goon is assigned a geographic "patch" to work in. With less than 400 of these goons working across the entire UK, it follows that every patch is at least several miles across even in the most urban of areas. We estimate that a goon working in an urban area - with a fast car, compliant traffic lights and strong tail wind - might be able to visit 10 unlicensed properties in an hour. The BBC often trots out the statistic that more than 4 out of 5 unlicensed properties are correctly unlicensed. Mindful of this statistic we reckon that an urban goon, working at maximum efficiency (which is far from guaranteed), might visit 2 unlicensed properties every hour that actually require a TV licence. In order to meet their basic performance target they need to obtain a prosecution statement from a normal adult occupier of at least one of those properties, which is still pretty unlikely but just about possible.

A goon working in a rural or semi-rural area, on the other hand, is very unlikely to visit more than 5 or 6 properties an hour, because they will have much further to travel between each one. In that situation maybe only one of the unlicensed properties they visit every hour will actually need a TV licence. Factor in the need for a normal adult occupant to be present and answer the door and it's very unlikely the goon would be able to meet their target of feeling one collar an hour. The stakes are high as goons failing to meet the hourly target risk disciplinary action, which can ultimately lead to dismissal from the job.

Looking at the table above, you will notice that a goon leaving a "We Said We'd Call" card is rewarded with a small commission payment if the card subsequently generates a sale. That explains why TV Licensing goons often appear so keen to leave a card with anyone they visit.

So how, pray tell, can a goon enhance their job security and make healthy commission to boot? Well, there are two ways really. Firstly, they could work smartly - which is pretty unlikely as most TV Licensing goons aren't renowned for their smartness. By working smartly, we mean they could plan their visits so they hit as many properties as possible, in the shortest time possible, at a time of the day when the occupier is likely to be present. Even if they somehow managed to do that, there would be situations where they were unable to meet the hourly target. Secondly, they could obtain results by what we'll describe as non-conventional methods. Non-conventional methods might include acts of embellishment, as we briefly mentioned earlier - that could be sleight of hand when filling in paperwork, or it could be telling little old ladies "if you have a DVD player in your attic then you must have a TV licence or you'll go to jail" or similar. Again, we know that this has happened in the past and we suspect it's an integral part of TV Licensing operations on a daily basis.

As well as the clear financial incentives for unscrupulous practice, we consider TV Licensing goons have no real disciplinary deterrent to keep within the rules. We base that opinion on the fact that we know of at least two goons (see here and here), who are still working for TV Licensing despite having been caught on camera physically lashing out at the occupiers of properties they had just visited. We are also reminded of TV Licensing dismissive attitude when told a Hartlepool goon had attempted to force his way into a property. The attitude seems to be "get results anyway you can, but don't get caught".

We hope our article has opened your eyes into what really motivates TV Licensing goons as they visit unlicensed properties.

Anyone who doesn't need a TV licence should give TV Licensing as wide a berth as possible, as they could be the next one in a goon's commission-targeting sights.

Edit (5/4/16): You can read an update to this article in a future post here.


TV Licensing Watch said...

Fifi in Mad Max summed it up pretty well, "OK, so long as the paperwork's clean, you boys can do what you like out there."

It's obvious to any sensible person that the BBC have completely washed their hands of the whole disgusting sham enfarcement process.

" . . Capita has no obligation to - nor does the BBC ask Capita to – advise it of these matters. . . "

Abolition of the BBC TV access Tax and all the crap that goes is long, long overdue.

Fred Bear said...

The commission system and the TVL178 (ie a one page self-incrimination form) shows why it is necessary for the legally licence free housholds to be very cautious when dealing with these so-called 'officers'.

All they have to do is write 'TV use admitted' (even if you tell them you only watch DVDs, catch up TV or play video games) and get you to sign the form and it would be difficult to escape prosecution.

I think it's best not to have dealings with anyone from TVL even if you do not need a licence.

Unknown said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqDI983QB6w&ab_channel=KevinBohana Watch the video... and tell them to do one :)