/ Money, Technology

Why the government’s sitting on £1bn of TV licence fees

If you’re one of the millions who pay for their TV licence by direct debit or cash payment plan, did you know you’re giving a £1bn interest-free loan to the government?

When I moved house last year, I took out a new TV licence. Moving is an expensive business, so I thought I’d spread the cost of the licence by paying by direct debit.

What I didn’t realise until then was that anyone who pays for their TV licence by monthly direct debit is charged double for the first six months. You then have to make the regular payment from month seven. This effectively means that your TV licence account is six months in credit all the time.

You don’t get this money back until you no longer have to pay for a TV licence or you switch payment method by paying your licence fee in advance. So yes, for many of us that means holding out until we turn 75 or die. Great.

£1bn of TV licence cash overpaid

I initially told myself to get over it. It’s £72.75 that I’ll get back at some point. But the thought kept festering. Why on earth should they keep my money like this? So I decided to issue a request under the Freedom of Information Act, and that’s when I discovered the sheer scale of this interest-free loan.

14.7 million households pay for their TV licence by direct debit, with a further 1.5 million paying under a ‘cash payment plan’ or ‘monthly cash plan’, whereby you pay regular payments at PayPoint outlets.

Both systems operate on the ‘six months in advance’ principle, with the money held in the government’s Consolidated Fund account, from which the BBC receives a monthly payment.

Considering this amount of TV licences, our calculations show that a massive £1bn of extra payments is earning interest in the government’s coffers.

Protecting the BBC from losses

A government spokesperson told Which? that the system provides ‘an alternative to an annual lump sum payment, while also protecting the BBC from losses incurred if payments stop before the whole amount has been collected’.

Well, I have an impeccable track record of paying my bills on time, so I don’t see why I should have to keep my account over £70 in credit just in case I default.

There are already hefty penalties in place for anyone who doesn’t have a TV licence. And there are plenty of households that could do with that £70 right now. The government shouldn’t be cross-subsidising the cost of non-payers using the money of the responsible majority who choose direct debit.

Comments

What absolute nonsense. You pay 6months in advance and 6 months in arrears instead of the whole year in advance. I can see nothing wrong in this and expect better of Which. If you didn’t pay the extra six months at the begining people who pay up in full at the begining of the year would be subsidising people like myself who take advantage of the monthly plan. I thought Which was about fairness and honesty, not cheapskates getting something for nothing.

Pay upfront and have done. You pay interest if you buy the TV on credit. A car licence is purchased upfront. Better question- why is it free to over 75’s just by virtue of age rather than ability to pay? They can be millionaires. Why is iplayer free? The whole payment model needs a radical overhaul. Digital consumption via iplayer should have a separate licence fee which should also be sold abroad and help to reduce the cost of the basic TV licence fee. Unbelievably , a black & white licence fee technically still exists! So dual licensing is not an issue – just bring it up to date.

iplayer is not free – you need a licence!

Many years ago someone I knew (a police sergeant) used to buy his TV licence with cash at the Post Office.

He would NEVER renew it. Each year he went to the Post Office and bought a new licence with cash.

He kept his licence on a shelf, just by his front door. Each year when the licence people came round (as they do, assuming that everyone has a TV), he would grab the licence from the shelf and take great pleasure in taunting the TV licence people by waving the licence at them.

Jim D Pensioner says:
24 August 2012

I always knew that it was unfair that I payed for my TV licence 12 months ahead by Direct Debit. So when I reached the age of 74 & had recieved my licence for the next 12 months I ceased my D Debit. This seemed to cause the Licencing People to go into a panic. But I argued it out with them & they reluctantly backed down, because I was right. I’d payed 12 months in advance for over 50 years, so what a lot of money they’d had off me in excess interest. So if your licence renewal date comes just a few weeks before your birthday you too can stop paying when you reach 74.

paul says:
24 August 2012

When i was going through a financially tight spell i opted to pay for my TV license monthly. I assumed they would take 1 month’s amount at a time instead they took 2 months each month and when i phoned them i was informed they take 2 months each month until you are 18 months in advance.
This annoyed me so much on principle that i sold the telly and haven’t had one since; now i get thinly veiled threatening letters from them once or twice a year warning of the consequences of watching TV without a license, despite phone calls and letters they are incredulous that anyone doesn’t want to watch/own a TV.
Since getting rid of the TV we listen to the radio more and consequently we get more done.
We have noticed that younger people often watch hardly any TV and prefer the computer (Facebook, Youtube etc) and games consoles – which seems as if they are making their own entertainment choices rather than passively consuming the increasingly bland programs the TV companies think we all want – good luck to them.

At least TVL do not (directly) insult by surcharging £2-50 that DVLA does for credit card payment
as well as maybe charging a year’s fee for only 11 months’ use (a previous Which? revelation) by rounding up to complete months regardless of which day the licence was purchased.

I pay both annually, the latter by cheque.

I ran a business with high street address.
Somewhere along the line someone at TVL decided I was watching TV instead of working or they needed more cash, or both.
I twice returned and rejected their fictitious claim, with no response.
The third I binned.
I had hoped they would turn up and find a magically hidden set somewhere – but I was disappointed and the love letters ceased.

A couple of years ago, my husband, who was eligible for a free TV licence died. As I am not yet eligible for a free licence, I contacted the licensing service was was surprised to find that I had, in effect, to pay a premium to pay for my licence by monthly direct debit. I think its a totally unfair system – surely it would be fairer to add a small percentage on to the monthly payment? After all, by the time I am 75 there probably won’t be any such thing as a free licence, and I bet I don’t get my £75 back then!

Oh come on Which. If this was sorted how you want the. You’d be saying those who paid a lump sum up front shoud get a discount because they are paying money early

People understand you pay more for insurance by installments than as a lump sum up front. This is just the same.

I disagree that this is the same as insurance. Insurance is a risk-based assessment: you pay a sum of money for a period of risk, they take the risk from day 1. With insurance you are covered in full from day 1. If you trash the car completely on day 1 and claim on the insurance, you are still liable for the entire year’s premium (deducted from any claim payment where necessary), just the same as if you trash the car on day 364. (If you sell the car part-way through the year, you won’t get back a pro-rata proportion of the insurance (nor any if you’ve made a claim?) because the premium will calculated at short-term rates.)

Neither is the TV Licence akin to buying a TV on installments as someone else has suggested. When buying a TV or other product on installments you have full use of the TV, stereo system, or whatever from day 1, even tho’ you have not paid for it in full.

The TV licence is more akin to a road-tax licence or bus/train season ticket or club membership: you are paying for a service for a set period – at the end of the period paid for, you are no longer entitled to use the service. If you pay for 1 month, you are entitled to use the service for 1 month, if you pay for 6 months you are entitled to use it for 6 months, etc.. The longer the period you pay for in advance, the greater the pro-rata discount you will usually get because the service provider has had use of more of your money for longer.

On that basis, as others have argued, there should be a discount for paying for a full year in advance, compared with paying monthly. Unfortunately – unlike road tax (where I think you can still buy a 6-month licence at a cost of more than 50% of a 12-month one, and get refunds if the licence is surrended early), and unlike memberships and season tickets where you can purchase shorter periods at higher pro-rata rates – you cannot *buy* a TV licence for less than a 12-month period (unless you are in your 75th year), although you can *pay* monthly.
So as there isn’t a discount for paying in full up front, there should be an extra ‘premium’ for paying only one month at a time. In fact there is no such premium, but the monthly payment is managed such that everyone is, on balance/average, 6 months in credit. That seems reasonably fair to me.

I pay in advance each year. I am on average 6 months in credit EXACTLY the same as all those complaining here include the Which author. (to explain fully to the whingers and the which moaner are always six months in credit. I vary between 0 months and 12 months in credit = average of six months).

This is such a non story that I almost feel like cancelling my subscription if Which can’t do basic Maths.

You’ve swallowed the con hook, line and sinker, Andrew H.

Once you’ve been paying for a few years, that’s exactly what it LOOKS like. But, like everyone else, you will have made DOUBLE payments for the first six months. Those initial double payments mean that you are always at least six months in credit.

You, like so many of us, will have forgotten about those initial double payments. Which is no doubt what the licensing authorities want. We’re all being suckered.

My DD will be cancelled next week.

@Gradivus, I suggest you re-read Andrew H’s comment.

He said that he pays “in advance each year”. I understand that to me that (like me) he pays a full 12 month’s licence at the beginning of each year. Hence, at the beginning of the year, he is 12 months in credit, and at the end of the year he is 0 months in credit – an average over the year of 6 months in credit. He has not made “initial double payments” because he apys annually.

Paying monthly, you have made “double payments” for 6 months. Thereafter, at the end of each month you are exactly 6 months in credit. I fail to see any substantial difference between that and a person who averages 6 months in credit by starting off 12 months in credit and decreasing to 0 months in credit, then back up to 12 months in credit at the commencement of the next year.

Yes, I agree that, by paying monthly, you will still be six months in credit at the end – and I trust (!?) that the authority will remember that even if you don’t.

Why not try what I suggested previously: pay double monthly for 6 months, then terminate it for 6 months; then repeat each year? I hasten to add, I haven’t tried it.

Oh dear Gradivus. You will cancel your direct debit this week, get £70 back, then pay £140 for a licence a year in advance, How is that going to help you?!!

It’s difficult to argue with people who don’t understand basic maths like you and the original Which poster.

You pay in advance – on average you are 6 months in credit. Sometimes its zero, sometimes its 12 months, the average of that is 6 months.

You pay monthly – you are always 6 months in credit (after the first 6 months anyway), so you are on average 6 months in credit

So using both methods, everyone is 6 months in credit, so they are both the same and very fair.

I haven’t forgot the original double payments, its the part of the direct debit route which means that both systems are exactly the same – no double direct debit and its unfair on those who pay in full up front

Andrew,
What’s worrying is that “the original Which poster”, Martyn Saville, is apparently the Which? Money’s Principal Researcher – and if their “Principal Researcher” doesn’t “understand basic maths”, then where does it leave Which’s advice???

Andrew,

I confess to becoming more and more confused with this. I’ve just dug out my TV licence to check.

Coincidentally, it renews in August. The licence says I have already paid £72 and the remaining £72 will be collected by DD over the next six months. Great. Excellent. Six months in (diminishing) debt and six months in (increasing) credit. Just what it should be.

BUT, like the author, I am absolutely, 100% certain that I made double payments initially. And I am absolutely, 100% certain that I considered this a total rip-off at the time. I only signed up to monthly DD because, all those years ago, I was living ‘on the financial edge’.

It all depends when (in relation to your licence due date) you started paying. If you get your first licence “for free” then make double payments for the next six months (single payments thereafter) then it is indeed completely fair. But I have an uncomfortable feeling that that is not what happened to me. Sadly, decades on from my first licence, I cannot be sure. Perhaps I should just accept that it is simply my memory at fault.

Oh, and by the way, I studied mathematics at university, so my understanding of “basic maths” is just fine, thank you. Well above “basic” in fact. It’s my memory/understanding of the licence fee payment structures that is dodgy.

It’s so basic. He could just as well complain about paying in full up front because they on average have £72 of my money in perpuity. Which really have come up with a non story here. Can I have a job please Which?

John – I am sure you did pay double up front (if the same scheme has run all that time) – which is perfectly fair and equitable with those who pay for the whole licence in advance. It’s not a rip off when you think about it – your average debt is the same as mine (I pay in advance for the year). It is actually quite elegant and the fairest annual fee versus monthly direct debit solution I have seen. Usually you pay a % interest for in effect borrowing half a year’s payment on something, but you don’t here. (the quarterly payment option does do that, loading a % on the fee)

The fairest solution would be for everyone to pay by direct debit (no annual fee option) with no front loading so you pay for the Beeb in the month you use it. As it is though we are all expected to pay up front for the year, just there are two ways of this being done. But Mr which person – we are ALL in effect owed 6 months licence fee – both direct debit and annual lump sump payers. Please write a balancing story on that asking for my 6 months back.

Actually, don’t waste any more of our time, and our subscription money. I feel a letter to which editor coming on…

[This comment has been edited due to it breaking our commenting guidelines. Please be civil. Thanks, mods.]

Hello Andrew, I’m sure Martyn could explain this better – but there are multiple options to pay for your TV licence. It’s at your choice to pick which method you’re most comfortable paying. Some like to pay on a monthly basis, others can pay 12 months upfront.

Most direct debits work in the following way – the full yearly sum is equally split across the 12 months so that you can make sure you can fit it into your monthly budget. What appears to be happening with the TV licence is that the person paying by direct debit is paying double for first 6 months and then continuing to pay at the normal price for the next 6 months. So rather than paying £145 in the first 12 months, like you would do if you were paying up front like yourself, this direct debit person has paid £218 in the first 12 months. My water bill is different – I pay over the odds for the first 8 months, but thereafter I don’t pay anything for the next 4 months.

Since you pay upfront, you feel you are able to take the hit of paying the full 12 months, and as you say, by the end of the year you are 0months in credit (half of which is 6 months). However, as someone who chooses to pay by direct debit, there should be no real need that they should be ‘in credit’ at all, any more than one month in credit.

I am pay-as-you-go on a monthly basis, and I am only £12 out of pocket each month, neither in credit nor out of credit. My understanding, and I’m sure most people’s understanding, of a direct debit is that it is simply making this monthly singular payment automatic. I don’t see why the person paying by direct debit couldn’t cancel, get their £70 back and then pay like me (no need to pay a full year upfront)? Trevor’s point below on that it would need to cost if we all paid like this is a possible point, but I’m not sure it’s a good reason for always being 6 months in credit.

That’s my take on it – and though you may disagree with myself, the author or others, please make sure you stick to explaining your point, rather than taking jabs at others. Read our Commenting Guidelines for more on what we expect here on Which? Conversation: https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines Thanks.

Grace says:
29 November 2012

What if money availability is also an issue? In the same way in which a company prefers you to have paid 6 months in advance, I might prefer to hold on to my money? What makes everybody above so sure that, just because they are an institution, they have actually worked out payments and amounts fairly? Do we understand quite so well the circuit of the money that we pay as tax or tv licence to be sure that everything is ‘reasonable’, a word that’s quite casually used above? Even if things were quite so mathematically intelligent or plain, there is still the issue of trust and I for one am not willing to give up my suspicion and consequently part with my money quite so easily. What’s ‘reasonable’ often conceals a good degree of indifference, even if for blessed reasons.

Also, if we did all pay just monthly, effectively on a pay-as-you-go basis, then no doubt the overall annual cost would (on paper) be higher because they wouldn’t have 6 month’s worth of advance credit.

In practise, they’ve probably already spent all that 6 month’s worth of advance payments, so couldn’t change the system without a massive hike in the licence fee!

Andrew T says:
25 August 2012

The thing I don’t understand is the theory that if you are hard up you will somehow gain by spreading your payments. Since most extended payment plans will add a premium of some sort surely the only logical way if you are genuinely struggling to pay for essential services is to pay for them in one hit. I know it takes a certain amount of discipline but you know that regular bills are going to turn up so why not divide every predictable bill by 12 and put an equivalent amount away in an interest account to cover it. Keep a record so that you can regulate this sum up or down accordingly if you need to and never again pay over the odds to service your regular outgoings. It’s called ‘budgeting’ and before anyone says ‘that’s easy for you to say – you’re probably well off’ – I live in Cornwall on well below average earnings and I am the only wage earner in a household of 4. I can’t afford to manage my outgoings any other way!

As far as I can tell with the TV licence, there is no discount for paying it in one chunk, that’s unless you’re hoping to dodge a price rise, though I believe it’s frozen.

Patrick. I’m afraid Martyn couldn’t explain it better because he’s misunderstood the whole situation. And now I see this rubbish non story in my magazine this month. The whole point is that whether you pay in one lump or by direct debit the system is entirely equal. The BBC or government basically has £72 in the bank from all licence fee payers, whether lump sum or direct debit. Whether that is right or wrong is another issue, but if Martyn wants to write an article it should be about that in general not about direct debit monthly payments being unfair

But. If there wasnt the 6 month double payment I would expect a discount for lump sum up front payment. It happens everywhere else. However I think the licence fee arrangement is much fairer.

Andrew H, I wholeheartedly endorse your comments.

The only approximate pay-as-you-go method is quarterly direct debit, where TV Licensing actually state:

“By paying quarterly the majority of your licence is paid for on a pay-as-you-go basis. This differs from our other instalment schemes, where at least half of the licence fee is collected in advance. As a result, quarterly payments incur a small premium of £1.25 per quarter which is included in your payment.”

That equates to a surcharge of a little under 3.5%. To my mind, that also ensures that this method is reasonably equitable with the other payment methods offered.

Much as it pains me to say it (!), it seems to me that TV Licensing has provided a good number of different payment methods and frequencies, without any one method being ‘unfair’ compared with the others. Of course all methods are based on the premise that essentially you have to buy a licence for a 12-month period at a time. That may have made sense when that licence was a piece of paper giving you the right to watch a TV set, but is somewhat antiquidated in these times when all records are electronic and pay-as-you-go could be implemented easily.

What I do wonder now is what is the cost of administring the whole TV Licensing system. As this is a ‘tax’ that must be paid by nearing 100% of households, why not fund the BBC directly from general taxation? Even tho’ that would probably mean an increase in another tax, it would dispense with the TV Licence administration costs entirely and thus reduce overall costs.

I fell into the Direct Debit trap this year, but when you think about it all the power companies are doing the same, the water too, so it just seems ok for our lousy Government of whatever political colour to do the same, they have my money, I’m almost always in credit on all these accounts, for instance I’m £300 in credit with my power company, why can’t I have that money instead of it sitting in your coffers? Their answer is winters coming, even in April or May, winters coming!
I used to pay the PayPoint way paying what I could afford each month to lessen the damage at the end of the year, but as per usual as my bonce became more addled I’d miss months and the bill at the end on occasions was for the full amount. So this year I went DD, next year I think I’ll go back to lump sum no matter what piggy bank I have to raid to get it, it galls me so much that they the Government should be benefitting from our money!
PS Never been good with money even now when I have so very little of it!

Can’t see how it helps cancelling your direct debit and getting 6 months with no direct debit to pay,then having to find £140 to pay for the next licence in advance.

Either way the government gets 6 months of payments from everyone, annual fee payers or direct debit payers. Seems a very fair system to me – if you are judging the comparative methods of payment.

If somehow magically the government changed its mind it would have to find £2billion from somewhere immediately… any suggestions?

As I pay in advance I am effectively giving the government an interest free loan of half my fee, exactly the same as you are.

So what is the problem? I can’t see why this article picks out direct debit payments when the system is fair (between subscription methods). If you have a problem in general with paying for something in advance then fair enough, but write about it properly rather than saying its a direct debit issue

Patrick (can’t see how to reply directly to your comment…?) – As far as I know there is no way of “pay as you go monthly” with £12 a month for the TV licence. All the monthly options on this page say you pay for your first licence in 6 months. So maybe you have already paid double for 6 months at the start?

http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/pay-for-your-tv-licence/payment-methods/how-would-you-like-to-pay-for-your-tv-licence-pay8/

It’s fair to all customers in that it costs the same for all of them (all being on average 6 months in credit). If the double direct debit system was cancelled I would expect a discount for paying for the whole year in advance (and in effect lending the government 6 months money) – but would Which then complain about that? as it is, with no one system costing the user more than any other there is no need for any annual fee discounts.

Hi Buchanan, I have a payment card to pay on a monthly basis (not direct debit). I’ve just been through my historic bank statements, and the highest I’ve paid in a month is £13. It may be that the previous tenants of the house paid the ‘double in 6 months’ – which raises the question, if they were unaware, is not their 6 months money now lost or refundable to myself?

It is fair enough that they may want to take the first year’s licence in double payments over 6 months – the question is whether they then charge full price during that same year (ie. the next 6 months). Thanks.

Patrick,

I believe that the TV Licence is personal to you, not to the premises. I would have expected that the previous tenants would have transferred their licence to their new address. Did you not have a licence for a previous address? Can you not get a statement of account (not a bank statement) from TV Licensing?

My understanding is that during the first 6m of commencing a monthly payment scheme (whether direct debit or otherwise) you pay one-sixth of the annual amount per month, thus paying for your first year’s licence over 6m. Thereafter, you pay one-twelfth of the annual amount per month, such that you pay for your second year’s licence over months 7 – 12 of your first year and months 1 – 6 of the second year, i.e. half in advance and half in arrears with respect to the notional due date of the anniversary of commencement. During months 7 – 12 of your second year, you are paying towards your third year’s licence, and so on …

See here, under “Monthly” regarding Direct Debit payments – http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/pay/payment-methods/viewpaymentcontent.aspx?id=pay8&iqdocumentid=pay8
and here, under “Monthly payments” (second bullet) regarding payment card payments – http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/pay-for-your-tv-licence/payment-methods/tv-licensing-payment-card-pay7/.
Also, under the second link, see under “Where to pay – Online”, where it states “You can also view your payment plan and request a call back online.”

Hope that makes sense.

Patrick

As regards moving house, also see here: “Cancellations and refunds – You’re moving address”
“You may have moved in with someone who already has a TV Licence, moved abroad, received a letter for a previous occupier or will not watch TV at your new address.”
http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one/topics/cancellations-and-refunds-top7/

and here: “How to move your TV Licence to your new address – In most cases you can simply change the address of your TV Licence online, up to three months before you move. You just need your TV Licence number.”
http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one/for-your-home/youre-moving-address-aud23/#cancel

Hello Trevor, you’re right, the previous tenants had paid double for the first six months and then passed this sum over to me. In a way this shows that at least some people aren’t aware that they paid double for the first six months, nor that they are able to get a refund. Thanks for the useful links though!

john burns says:
26 August 2012

Fascinating stuff. It would make the basis of a good question for GCSE maths exam.

Earlier I asked “where do I get a refund?”, now being exempt from the fee. After checking my records I must apologise to TVL. I did indeed get an automatic refund which I now see consisted of the original 6 months extra payments plus repayment of D/Ds taken before I contacted TVL about our changed circumstances.

I had completely forgotten about the initial double rates— it was over 10 years ago. And I was so pleased to get the refund that I did not at the time think about how it had been arrived at. But to have forgotten so completely about the refund received less than a year ago is most embarrassing.

I am intrigued to know why the ace mathematicians who are so scathing about complaints from direct debiters all appear to pay annually upfront. Surely they must have decided that it was best value.
It is a fact that each monthly direct debit is more than one twelfth of the annual upfront fee. No one is disputing the fairness of that, but it is an extra charge. To take and hold on to six months’ additional fees for years on end seems to be effectively paying an even bigger surcharge.

Someone described the system as an elegant way of assuring the upfront payers that the direct debiters were not getting a better deal. I would prefer the word “devious”. I do not think those who choose to pay by monthly direct debit believe it is cheaper to do so. They choose it because of their financial circumstances, or cash flow as a businessman would describe it. A small charge on a monthly direct debit is almost always less than interest rates and penalties for slipping into overdraft. One lady described her household finances as being like the circus performer keeping twelve plates spinning on twelve canes except she only had eleven canes.

On balance I think Which? was right to raise this issue.

I pay up front because its easy. No reason. The government has on average 6 months of my money for years on end, same as a direct debit payer, so I can’t really see the problem. It’s the same!!

Unless Martyn’s issue is with the whole concept of paying for something up front. But everyone has to pay road fund licence up front, so I don’t really see the issue that Which raised.

The “devious” part you suggest is only that we are all (annual or monthly DD payers) lending the government 6 months licence fee on average, but we do so with road licence. The “elegant” part is that everyone is in the same situation however they pay for the licence (apart from someone starting to pay by DD who is actually slightly better off for 5 months than if he/she had pair annually up front – after that, everyone is equal.

I am concerned that Martyn (as a Which mathematician) doesn’t really understand how the systems have been designed to be balanced and equitable – and I don’t know what he suggests instead – a discount for up front annual fee payers would no doubt cause him to complain as well!

@buchanan17 – “everyone has to pay road fund licence up front”

I’ve just looked at the current “vehicle tax” (as they now call it!) rates (http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/OwningAVehicle/HowToTaxYourVehicle/DG_10012524).
You can pay for 6 or 12 months at a time – the six-month rates all work out at 10% more pro-rata than the 12 month rates, which strikes me as excessive!

Compared with that, the TV Licence payment scheme is somewhat more equitable.

I agree wholeheartedly with all your other comments immediately above.

I also agree completely with your earlier response to Patrick. I started writing a response to him yesterday indicating that the TV Licensing website shows 6m upfront payments for his method also.

@Patrick,
Are you sure you didn’t pay 6m extra upfront when you started your current payment method? Do you get a statement showing the credit on your account and deductions when the Licence fee is taken?

S Tume says:
26 August 2012

I cottoned on to this around 2 years ago. I thought I would ring them to talk about it. I said to them that most people will never cancel their tv licence, and so, when I eventually die they will keep this extra money that I have paid. They were either in denial or I had a very thick person on the other end of the line. All they kept saying in response was ‘What are you trying to say sir?’ The conversation went round in circles for about 10 minutes with the same reply from them before I eventual gave up tryingto explain this simple fact. It’s all about profit for them, they couldn’t give a stuff about providing a decent service.

And if I die 1 month after buying a yearly licence…?

I don’t get your point, there is no difference buying yearly or monthly DD – you are always in credit with them.

And you are with road fund licence, and with car insurance, house insurance. On all of them you would be 6 months on average in credit with them. As you are with a TV licence.

If I die mid year, I lose out on all of them (apart from being dead of course) – my estate would have to claim back from all of them. TV licence is no different.

George Searle says:
28 August 2012

It seems quite acceptable to me. Why are we always carping about the TV licence when it supports such a great service as the BBC. Do we really only want more of the drivel put out by the 100 odd other commercial stations?

I agree, a license is worth paying to avoid the commercial drivel produced by other stations but I also agree with Which that the initial 6 month double charge for direct debit is underhand.

People opt for direct debit because they can’t afford the up front license fee. The extra charge therefore penalises those least able to afford it.

@skeptictank, There is NO “extra charge” or penalty – you pay no more by monthly direct debit than someone who pays up front in full. The system attempts – and, in my view, largely succeeds – in putting everyone on a reasonalby equal footing whichever of the many payment methods \they choose.

I pay for everything monthly in order to spread the cost, because I can’t really afford one off/ up front fees for anything, or monthly payments that are any higher than they need to be. Car tax twice a year is bad enough, and I know it costs more in 2 halves, but the whole year is unaffordable. Paying monthly for a TV licence should be equal instalments like everything else. Every couple of years I check again to make sure I’m not imagining this double payment for the first 6 months, but it doesn’t change. I believe I could pay in equal weekly instalments at the post office but I’d keep forgetting to do it, and it’s a hassle. Each year I used to pay up front and skimp on something else. Then my partner moved in 12 years ago, and he already had a monthly licence so he just changed address and carried on paying by monthly DD (except I now pay it since he’s been out of work for nearly 2 years). But if he ever moves out presumably I’ll be back to square one because even though I’ve been paying it, it’s in his name. Anyway… how about the debate over paying for Sky AND paying for a licence to watch a handful of the channels (even if you hardly ever watch them)??

Good point Sue – Sky is out of reach for people with very little left after meeting all the household expenses yet it is now the biggest broadcaster and carries many of the most popular programmes. It’s a pity the BBC cannot do some sort of deal with Sky to share some of the programmes at a later date [although I can immediately see why Sky would not do that – it would be commercial suicide!].