This is precisely the sort of rant that blogs were invented for, but I’m so furious I barely know what to do with myself – and I’m struggling to work out whether I’m angrier with the supermarket employee in question, or with myself for not digging my heels in.
We just went to the Big Asda at Huyton, to buy some things. It has a particularly impressive non-food section, and one of the things that we bought there was a DVD player. Note, a DVD player – not a DVD recorder, which would contain a TV tuner, and would therefore fall under the TV Licensing legislation, but a DVD player, than can only output that which it finds encoded on a disk.
I understand this legislation. My TV licence entitles me to receive TV broadcasts. I need one if I own any appliance that receives TV broadcasts. A TV, obviously, or a video recorder (because it has a tuner in the back that receives the TV signal to record it), or a DVD recorder (the same), or even a tuner card for a computer. It is the tuner that is significant. If it is able to pick up a TV signal, it is covered by the Act, and a licence is required.
However, a DVD player doesn’t do that. It plays DVDs. It plays them, invariably, into a television set, which has a tuner, and requires a licence, but I wasn’t buying a TV, I was buying a DVD player, and by itself, it doesn’t require a licence. I understand this legislation! I do. It’s not rocket science, frankly, and I understand it.
This morning, a checkout assistant in Asda refused to sell me a DVD player unless I filled in the licence form, despite my repeated protestations that I knew it didn’t have a tuner, and wasn’t covered, that the list of appliances that were covered was written at the top of the form, and DVD player wasn’t in it, and that the tick boxes on the bottom of the form indicating which of the relevant appliances I’d purchased didn’t include an option for DVD player because I don’t need a licence for it!
Can you feel my fury?
Now, my mum would tell me not to be so ridiculous, that filling in the form cost me nothing except time, and that I spent longer trying to explain why I didn’t need to than I eventually took to fill it in. But that really isn’t the point. The point is that my personal information is just that – personal, to me. In an age where identity theft is becoming an increasing problem, Asda are passing an entirely unnecessary piece of paper around, with my name and address on it, and the information that I bought a DVD player. And if and when that form ever makes it back to the TV licensing authority, they will look at, mutter, “So what?! Imbeciles,” and throw it away. If I’m lucky.
I gave in to the woman, because she wasn’t accepting any logical argument from me. She was merely repeating that if I refused to fill in the form, she wouldn’t sell me the DVD player, whilst she simultaneously flashed hatred at me for clearly knowing what I was talking about, when she had all the power.
I really wish I hadn’t. I’m kicking myself for filling the wretched thing in, instead of standing my ground, demanding to see the manager, and making the fuss that my civil liberties demand. It’s a point of principle, Mum, and if you don’t stand up for principles, society is lost. But I didn’t. I caved, and society is, indeed, lost. Plus I have a really bitter taste in my mouth about the whole thing.