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The most common excuses Irish people give for not paying their tv licence

“Oh, I don’t live here, I’m just visiting a friend.”

"What, this old thing?"
Image: Television in room via Shutterstock

EARLIER THIS WEEK, the television licensing body in Britain revealed some of the most outlandish, funny and downright cheeky excuses they’ve been given from people who hadn’t paid their tv licence.

One of the weirdest reasons came from the person who had stolen their television and told the licence inspector that it therefore didn’t need a licence (“Nobody knows I’ve got it”). The BBC reports that someone else complained that their 3-year-old son was the only person in the house who watches the television and should therefore be responsible for it (“Can you take it out of the family allowance I receive for him? He watches it so he should pay”).

We got in touch with An Post, which is responsible for selling tv licences in Ireland, to see if they had collected any crazy excuses from people over the years. Unfortunately, they hadn’t – but they were able to tell us the three most common excuses the licence inspectors hear when they call to a home that doesn’t have a licence.

“Our television licence inspectors stay under wraps. They don’t do much public stuff and they don’t give away their identity,” says Anna McHugh of An Post. “They do hear the same excuses all the time, though, and a lot of it is dog-ate-my-homework stuff.”

1. The single most common excuse that the licence inspectors get is also the first thing that would come to mind if someone called to your door and started asking questions: The “I don’t live here” defence.

“People will say they’re from out of town, they’re just dropping in on a neighbour or that they’re just visiting a friend,” says McHugh. “It’s the one that comes up the most often when inspectors call to the door of a home where a licence hasn’t been bought.”

2. In second place, is the blame game: “People will blame someone else in the house: a spouse, a boyfriend or girlfriend, anyone,” says McHugh.

3. The third most common excuse is also the most defensive: “People will say that they don’t watch the television. It’s in their living room but it has a plant on it and they never watch it, so they haven’t bought a licence,” says McHugh.

She’s also heard about the lengths that some people will go to when the licence inspector calls to their home. “We’ve heard stories from inspectors about people falling out their back door carrying their tv out to the garden – sometimes inspectors know about it because they hear a smash, or the person trips over their feet,” she says.

Around 85 per cent of people with televisions have licences, with An Post estimating the evasion rate to be around 15 per cent, says McHugh.

We used to have an ad campaign saying that we’d heard all the excuses and none of them work. We really have.

Video: This is an actual excuse someone gave for not paying their tv licence >

Read: Almost 11,500 people in court for not paying tv licence >

Read: New broadcasting charge won’t be used to save ailing newspapers, says Pat Rabbitte >

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