The Angling Trust has continued its high profile campaign against internet rod licence rip-offs and last week we again slammed Google for advertising web sites which take advantage of hard-pressed anglers trying to buy a rod licence by charging them a £20 administration fee for a £27 rod licence, despite offering no additional service whatsoever.
The internet giant had taken down the adverts when the scam was taken up by BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme, but they have since re-appeared. Searches for “buy rod licence” or “fishing licence” on Google generate a list of results that is headed up with sponsored links to the offending sites – rodlicence.net and rodfishinglicence.com. The only place where anglers should buy a rod licence on-line currently is from www.postoffice.co.uk or alternatively over the counter in a Post Office.
We raised this issue back in March, and we’re very concerned that the sites might be affecting rod licence sales because unsuspecting anglers are finding that the cost of a licence has apparently rocketed when in fact it has been frozen for several years. A government ban on all marketing by its agencies in the past three years hasn’t helped either. This has reversed a decade of steadily-increasing rod licence sales and as a result revenues to the Environment Agency have been decreasing each year for the past two years. Because of the marketing ban, these unscrupulous companies are able to take advantage of anglers trying to buy their rod licence on the internet, and they pay Google a fee for every angler who clicks on one of the sponsored links.
Surely Google makes enough money without having to benefit from a scam that rips off hard-working men and women who are simply seeking to comply with the law and buy a rod licence to support the good work that the Environment Agency does to protect and improve our fisheries? Please join us by urging them to do the decent thing and remove the sponsored links to these appalling sites for good. It is suspicious that the sites were removed when Google’s spokesman was put on the spot on the radio, but then they mysteriously re-appeared a week or so later.
The Government must also lift the senseless marketing ban on the Environment Agency that stops it spending any money to promote licence sales. The rod licence income is vital to funding protection of our fisheries and supporting the work of organisations in the voluntary sector helping to deliver the National Angling Strategy. Anyone who knows anything about business will tell you that if you stop marketing a product, sales will fall, and that is exactly what has happened with rod licences.
Please take a moment to put “buy rod licence” into Google and if you come across these sites being advertised please use the quick and easy “Send feedback” option at the bottom of the screen to let Google know you are not happy to see these scammers being promoted.