Brian's Blog

…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World

To “The Occupier”

When I moved into my house over a year ago, there was a mountain of junk mail by the front door. If any of it was addressed to anyone it was usually “The Occupier” so it usually went in the recycling. Some stuff I returned to sender to encourage them not to send any more, and that has worked quite well.

Some of the post was from the TV Licensing agency and this I didn’t return and so I’m still dealing with it, or rather, not dealing with, beyond recycling the windowed envelope and using the letter as kindling for my fire. I could have sent each letter back with “Return to sender – no TV” written on the envelope, but I didn’t. But Why?

Here in the UK you have to have a TV license if you watch or record live television, which is something I don’t do, but the TV Licensing agency seem to want you to tell them this so they can update their database. I don’t want to play this game. I don’t want to be in their database and I don’t want to help them maintain it. Partly it seems pointless because that’s not to say they wont start sending letters again in the future when they want to check their details are correct. Also, they state in their letters that even if you tell them you don’t need a TV license, they may still send someone round to check. Further to this, the wording of their letters has progressed somewhat to a more threatening nature regarding court action – this seems silly to me since they are still referring to me as “The Occupier” or “Sir/Madam” – if they want to see me in court then they need to address me by name, they will also need evidence that I’m watching TV illegally, which they don’t have.

I don’t have the gun licensing department sending me monthly threats for not declaring I don’t own a gun.

Then a new letter arrived in the post a couple of weeks addressed to “The Occupier”, this one being from my local Electoral Office, requesting that “The Occupier” fills in their Annual Enquiry Form. The letter ends with the threat of a fine if “The Occupier” doesn’t comply. These people seem to like throw the threat of a £1,000 fine around a lot.

tv_license_electoral_role

Again, this is about maintaining someone’s database and I really don’t want to play this game.

Here in the UK we have the choice of whether we want to vote or not, but it seems we don’t have a choice about being in this database or not. On the reverse of the letter/form there is “Other information” about their being “two registers” and why: the electoral register, and the open register. I glance over this and aside from the casual statement about how they can sell the details they have, I just think “m’eh – whatever”. I have looked online and it seems that sending this letter out is their Step 1, then if a form doesn’t get returned they send someone round to ask for the details. This puts me in an awkward position because #1 I don’t want to respond to a threat that isn’t even addressed to me, again, if they want to fine me then they need to address me by name. #2 I really don’t want to waste tax payer’s money by causing these people to send someone round to my house. But oh well, this is their game and I’d rather be spoken to as a person. They’ve actually sent two copies of this letter now (and kindly extended their “please respond by” date).

So many things in this world make me question how free we really are – these are just two examples, but they illustrate how we are born into a system we have little say in, names in databases, numbers assigned, taxes requested, threats regarding non-compliance. I’m already in various government databases – I pay taxes, they already write to me at this address, they actually know only one person lives here – with their public-funded database they should use it to put two-and-two together.

And he causeth all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the bond, that there be given them a mark on their right hand, or upon their forehead; and that no man should be able to buy or to sell, save he that hath the mark, even the name of the beast or the number of his name. – Revelation / The Apocalypse

The thing is, if either of these departments do send someone round to get the details they want, will I be any more open to the stranger who knocks on my door? Maybe I’ll just be honest and say I have issues about reading and acting on mail that isn’t addressed to me personally. I am concerned that the TV licensing people’s automated system will arrange a court date at some point – I have heard they are “the biggest prosecutors in the UK”… I really can’t be bothered to cycle to a court hearing just to say “I don’t watch or record live television.” I just want to be left alone (and I’m not interested in voting).

Further reading:

If you found this topic interesting, I wrote back in June a post called “Free to be human“.

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6 comments on “To “The Occupier”

  1. bribikes
    24 October, 2015

    Here’s the weird thing, if even a small (but noticeable) portion of folks just refused to comply with this type of stuff, the government would be pretty much forced to let it go-we just have to stand up against it, which, like in your case, can be as passive as not replying to that letter. It seems simple enough to me.

    • Brian
      25 October, 2015

      Ahh yes, I didn’t think of it like that – very simple indeed *sits back and puts his feet up* 😀

  2. meltdblog
    25 October, 2015

    The mighty database! I visited a government run Museum and paid for a ticket only to be told I would not be allowed entry unless I provided a postcode. The comedy was I provided them with a real postcode but they still refused me entry as it was not recognised by their database.

    Thankfully there are privacy laws and you can usually avoid such questions by asking why they need the information, but most people will not worry and freely hand over their information which further encourages the behaviour.

    • Brian
      25 October, 2015

      I can appreciate that it might be useful to them in order to paint a picture of where people are travelling from, or in the case of my local council-run recycling centre that does this (along with recording vehicle number plates) they do this, I assume, to ensure only local people who are supposed to be using the centre are doing so… but I have a selection of local postcodes in my head that I can give out at random… sometimes I’m with my mum driving her vehicle and the stuff to be disposed of is from her address, yet they ask me for my postcode because I’m the driver. Essentially, like you, I’ve already paid to enter (through my council tax), so to be refused entry because I refuse to tell them my postcode could be similarly comedic!

  3. hiddenhoarder
    27 October, 2015

    A license to watch TV?? My kids are sitting here debating whether this is for real or if it’s a joke.

    • Brian
      27 October, 2015

      A TV license is very much a real requirement here in the UK – if you don’t have a license then you get these letters… or apparently they visit your street with detecting equipment to determine if someone is watching TV when they’re not entitled to… I’m hearing how bizarre this sounds now 😀

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