Ask A Broadsheet Reader



An Post, Camile Thai takeaway and the TV Licence inspector.

A Troika of tasty evil?

Joe writes:

Today a letter was delivered to my house from the TV Licence inspector addressed to my housemate’s girlfriend. She does not live with us but occasionally gets takeaway from Camile and delivered here. In the last few months she received two letters from Camile with her name and our address handwritten on the envelope.

My question is; is it legal for An Post to use the names and addresses from letters that pass through the sorting offices for the purpose of TV licence registration? Myself and my housemates receive post regularly so why didn’t they address the letter to any of us?

Our theory is that An Post/TV licence guys picked my housemate’s girlfriend’s name as the name/address on the letters from Camile are handwritten, suggesting that the letter is sent from someone who knows the recipient lives at that address. Seems pretty underhanded from An Post!


48 thoughts on “Ask A Broadsheet Reader

  1. Katia

    Just check out Data Protection policy on the Camille website. They may well sell their database.

  2. Spaghetti Hoop

    Who’s name was your last TV license registered as? Is it at all possible that your housemate registered the last license in his girlfriend’s name? This was/is a common diversion / confusion trick amongst license-dodgers.

    1. Ms Piggy

      I don’t follow that as a dodge. If you’ve bought the license in a false name haven’t you still, er, bought a license?

      1. Redundant Proofreaders Society

        Not in a false name. It was done when An Post used to chase the licensee and not the householder. Then when that person moved on it was all the more difficult to contact them or serve a reminder if they were no longer known at that address.

        1. Ms Piggy

          …but you have still bought a licence. As dodges go, it’s leaving me a bit underwhelmed :-D

    2. Hank

      So a common diversion trick amongst license dodgers is to buy a license?
      That’d probably get them off your back alright.

    3. ahyeah

      I actually did use this as a diversion trick (genuinely). But I didn’t know it was common. I thought I’d come up with it myself. And was quite pleased with myself too. Now I feel foolish.

      1. Spaghetti Hoop

        Another was where you dodged renewing for so long that when you did give in you took out a brand new annual license for 12 months, whereas you were in fact stretching it to up to 18. That is no longer possible as it is back-dated now to the expiry date of the last one. TBH I just pay up now as An Post have ‘heard all the excuses” and I don’t want them chasing. Though I would suggest that they replace those €5 TV stamps with an online drip-pay system where you could just throw in €20 on occasion to lessen the blow. We all know that the muck on RTE TV isn’t worth the license fee but I do listen to the fairly decent radio offerings.

  3. Fergus the magic postman

    An Post are also supplying Irish Water with names/addresses from the TV licence database.

    1. RobinBoy

      I doubt that, because the Irish water bill that came to my address had a totally different name on it.

      1. Fergus the magic postman

        I didn’t say Irish water were exclusively using names/addresses from tv licence database. They are also sending their bills to addresses acquired from tea leaf readings.

  4. Liam from Lixnaw

    if these letters are the only connection housemate’s girlfriend has with the address then your theory is fairly plausible – as for the legality of AN Post building a database of people and their whereabouts based on their own work and using it for another task they perform (license fee collection), i dont think that can be classed as illegal

    1. Caroline

      It could be. A data controller is only supposed to keep data for purposes that are “specific, lawful and clearly stated”, i.e. you’re supposed to know what your data is being used for.

      But anyway would it not be very time-consuming for An Post to process handwriting on envelopes to track down individuals? It seems more likely that Just Eat might have sold a database on to it.

      1. neil

        Lots of post routing is done by OCR (automated reading) of handwritten addresses. If the computer can read it correctly for routing, it can store it.

        1. Caroline

          Really? I had no idea it was good enough to do that. I use bog standard Abbyy quite a lot and it’s still amazingly rubbish at handwriting. So the potential law-breachin’ could be done in-house after all.

          1. neil

            It’s usually crap alright, but obviously the expensive version for postal services is better than the cheap personal use ones (even if they’re just intentionally hobbling the basic version to charge more for the good one).

          2. Caroline

            I suppose they also have a largely-finite database of potential matches too, which must compensate for the nature of Irish postal addresses and handwriting. What a time to be alive eh.

    2. Krill Bill

      But why would An Post not use any of addresses that your man and his housemates regularly recieve? Surely if they’re constantly getting post it’s more indicative that they are the residents and not the girlfriend? Sounds like someone in a sorting office was given a list of addresses that haven’t paid the licence and was then asked to find out who lives there.

  5. donkey_kong

    my gf answered the door one day to teh inspector who asked where was I.
    Since i was at work he took her name – all TV licence since then is in her name

    she didn’t live there at the time , unfortunately she does now

      1. donkey_kong

        she probably is. I’m not a pleasant person.
        I guess she stays for the sex , it’s probably my only redeeming feature

  6. Zarathustra

    At the risk of going slightly off topic, I think An Post’s ‘Stalk Much’ ad is stupid.

        1. Corky Duke

          didnt Pat Rabbite want it changed to a Media licence. So if you get any kind of TV channels by any means you have to pay for this licence.

        2. singingdetective

          If you have a computer, a table or (I believe) a mobile phone, you need to pay your TV license.

  7. ollie

    Irish Water managed to get my name and address spot on, kudos to them. In fact, I was so impressed that I decided not to open the envelope.

  8. Brody

    I can say that in Camile we never sell our database to anyone, never mind An Post. Sounds a it creepy if they are actually picking up on iour handwritten notes :(

    1. Joe

      The TV licence isn’t a tax, officially anyway. Plus, I never said that I had a TV, so why would I pay for a TV licence if I don’t have a TV?

    2. Martin Heavy-Guy

      TV Licence is supposed to go toward the programming of RTE. Why in bejesus’ name would anybody want to pay that?

  9. Nollaig

    Similar issue, paid licence fee in my name for a property that myself and wife now live in and shortened the address in places (Sth instead of South etc). Anyway, wife had An Post get mail rerouted from her (exclusively) old address to our new one. Next thing she gets a TV licence bill in her name at current address even tho I’d paid it already. The slight differences in the address must not have been picked up by post computer, so the forwarding address given by my wife was deemed separate to where I paid TV bill. Point being that An Post seemed to use details of the forwarding address service to send us a licence fee.

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