Making Simple Things Difficult

I love the TV Licensing warnings the BBC bombards us with. “It’s easy to pay for your TV License,” they say. “There are so many ways to pay.”

Yet things are not as they should be. Ten months ago, as I moved into my previous house, I sorted out a TV license. I paid for it in full at the post office. I just walked in with one-hundred and twenty-six pounds fifty in my pocket and walked out with a TV license. I had been in my new house for such a short time that I didn’t know my postcode so the nice lady at the counter found it for me with the computer system. Easy.

How I miss those halcyon days. Two weeks ago, just before I moved house, I called the number on the back of my TV License certificate to get the address changed. I found myself talking to a young guy with the voice of a man who was probably not well-educated. He wanted my license number.

“It’s on the top, right-hand corner, by your name.”

My name was on the top left and the license number was nowhere to be seen. I told him this, so he used my name and address to find my license details. Fair enough.

“Can I have your new postcode, please?”

“I don’t know it.”

“Ah. Then I can’t do anything.”

“Can’t you find it using my address?”

“Our computer searches addresses all over the world; if I put in your street I’ll get every one in the world.”

“But there’s only one ******** in Edgbaston, Birmingham.”

“I thought my address was unique until I got this job.”

“I know this part of Birmingham like the back of my hand,” I replied; “and there is only one ******** in Edgbaston.”

“I could try putting in the first part of your postcode.”

“Okay, it’s B**.”

“Oh. It’s just giving me a screen saying ‘please enter a valid postcode’.”

I gave up.

When I tried the internet, I discovered that TV Licensing can no longer be performed through the post office as of the end of this month. So I called the helpline number again. Being answered by a voice recognition system, I read out a code on my certificate that looked like it might be my license number and it gave up and put me through to another GNVQ dropout. Armed with my new postcode by my insurance broker, I got my license changed on the system with little fuss. I asked whether my new license would be posted or emailed to me. He said I wouldn’t get one.

“That’s ridiculous! What if something goes wrong with the system? How can I prove that I have a license?”

“You’ve got a license. It’s on the computer. What can go wrong with the system?”

My phone ran out of credit right in the middle of this argument. It would have been far less stressful to be fined in court…

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~ by Scary Rob on 13 July, 2006.

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