10th May 2019
Richard Hadley, Angling Trust Coaching Centre Manager and Lead Safeguarding Officer talked to the Environment Agency about potential issues with “check and send” fishing licence sites…
When you use the official Government website at www.gov.uk/fishing-licences to buy an Environment Agency fishing licence, the licence is activated almost immediately after it is purchased.
But we’ve heard about problems experienced by some anglers and coaches who’ve use third-party websites to buy fishing licences. These have often involved a delay between payment being made and the licence(s) arriving. You can imagine the problems this can cause for anyone who wants to go fishing or start a coaching session straight away. Not good!
I contacted the Environment Agency to hear its position on this and a spokesperson kindly provided me with the following info on websites that offer to provide a so called “check and send” service:
“We are aware of these “check and send” websites – they are not part of the Environment Agency, they are not our agents and we do not endorse them. These third parties simply go to our website and buy licences in the angler’s name at the official price, after charging anglers an administration fee on top of the licence price! They then use some of their admin money to pay to appear at the top of Google searches. We’ve tried to position ourselves so that we come top of searches about fishing licences, but each time we do that, the check and send websites pay more money so that we no longer appear first. At the Environment Agency, we spend rod licence income on protecting and improving fishing/fisheries and just cannot get into a wasteful ‘bidding war’ with these sites.
In addition, it’s possible that these websites may not purchase a licence straight away which could leave anglers at risk of committing an offence, and of prosecution. If you feel a third party has not bought a licence for you, we strongly suggest that you contact your bank and ask for an indemnity claim. Your bank will then investigate whether the third party have collected the money you paid them. If they have collected the money and not provided you with a licence, your bank may be able to reimburse you and attempt to recover the payment from the third party themselves.
Most check and send sites are operating legally and at present we have no powers to close them down. However, through our legal team, we do take action where it is possible to do so. You may have seen in the news towards the end of last year that individuals involved in third party websites received heavy custodial sentences. The Government is concerned about the impact of these sites on public services and has asked Google to remove any adverts for websites which are reported as being misleading. If you feel that the website you used mislead you in any way, you can report it on https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2014/03/02/report-a-misleading-website-to-search-engines/ or by contacting Trading Standards.
This year, all our renewal reminders include a message warning our customers of these sites. We issue warnings in our newsletters to encourage people to only use the official online sales channel at https://www.gov.uk/fishing-licences. Further advice can be found on the following link https://www.gov.uk/government/news/take-care-when-buying-your-fishing-licence-online.”
Angling Trust Coaching Centre Manager and Lead Safeguarding Officer
07720 974811 | firstname.lastname@example.org