Driving schools are knowingly exploiting a DVSA backlog following the coronavirus crisis to charge people hundreds of pounds extra to book driving tests, MailOnline can reveal.
Rahat Fokrul, the head of Fast Driving Test Booking (FDTBooking), admitted that his company was ripping off customers by overcharging.
His company charges £180 to book a driving test that should only cost £62, a 190 per cent price increase.
Another company charged up to £255 for the same service – more than four times the actual price on the government’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) website.
Many of the companies say the inflated price is the result of an administration and booking fee that reflects the time it takes to find a test on the DVSA website.
When asked if FDTBooking was ripping off customers, Mr. Fokrul replied: “Yes, we do.” “We know the rules.”
Tom Verdon-Roe, 25, (pictured) is a student in London. After weeks of trying to book a test himself, he ended up paying £146 for a booking service to find one for him
“We don’t cheat on people.” “It takes time to find a date.”
He denied his company blocked test slots in order to drive up the prices he could charge.
Tom Verdon-Roe, 25, is a student in London. After weeks of trying to book a test himself, he finally shelled out £146 for a booking service to find one for him.
He told MailOnline: “It’s pretty crazy.” You’d think things would have calmed down post-Covid, but it feels worse.
“I tried to get one for three weeks in a row. They release the tickets on Mondays at 6 a.m.
“It feels like you have to do it.” [pay extra] because it’s what everyone else does.
“The regulator should do more to address this.”
The Driving Test Exchange offers a booking service at three different prices – from £89 up to a whopping £255
Local Intensive Driver Training (LIDT) charges £149 to book a test but refuses to block booking
Another man seeking a test in London said: “[There is] Backlog of at least three to four months.
“It’s really difficult to find days off at any center over the next few months.”
“These websites make money from this.”
“There should be tough action against what is going on.” “The system must not be abused.”
There are a wide range of companies that charge exorbitant amounts to book driving tests.
Local Intensive Driver Training (LIDT) costs £149, while Intensive Courses cost £179.
Block booking is not possible for intensive courses. Its director Noel Gaughan said the company was recording three to four tests a week at a profit of £117 per test, equivalent to an annual profit of more than £24,000.
He said: “There are companies that are charging an absolute fortune, which they shouldn’t be.”
“It’s not something I enjoy.” The dates we find are five or six months in advance.”
He added: “The cost comes from the time it takes us to find a practical test appointment in the government’s booking system.”
FDTBooking charges £180, while Best Driving School London charges up to £228.
The driving test exchange includes three different prices – from £89 to a whopping £255.
Christian Kriel is the director of Best Driving School London, which charges up to £228 to book a test.
That’s more than three times the price of a regular test, although his company has also offered tests at twice the price.
Rahat Fokrul, the head of Fast Driving Test Booking (FDTBooking), admitted that his company was ripping off customers by overcharging
His company charges £180 to book a driving test that should only cost £62, a 190 per cent price increase
Block booking is not possible for intensive courses. Its director Noel Gaughan said the company was recording three to four tests a week at a profit of £117 per test, equivalent to an annual profit of more than £24,000
Best Driving School London charges up to £228 to book a test that should actually cost just £62
He denied blocking bookings and said finding tests had become a “nightmare” as the number of people seeking Covid rose by 440,000.
Speaking to MailOnline, he admitted his test booking service was “twice as expensive”.
However, he later denied this, saying: “It will cost you twice as much, but we are not doubling the price.”
He added: “We charge the same for the test, but we charge an administration fee.”
“You pay me to do the assessments for you.”
“We have a number of people who work for us and access the DVLA system.
“You pay for a service.” We are very clear. We will do a driving test for you.
“A lot of people say, ‘No, they’re too expensive,’ but there are a lot of people who have to take a driving test and need this service.
‘Is that wrong?
“It’s a decision you make. If you don’t want the service, don’t pay for it.
“We keep getting harassed by people saying, ‘They’re doubling the price.’”
“At least they have someone who can help them find the test.”
“We don’t lie to people. We really try to help people.
“It feels like you have to do it.” [pay extra] because it’s what everyone else does. The regulator should do more to stamp it out.
“There will be a lot of people taking driving tests who are dishonest.”
In the last six months, the DVSA has issued 141 warnings, issued 113 suspensions and closed 194 stores – all due to misuse of the service.
In addition, the terms and conditions of use of the booking service have been changed to clarify that driving instructors are not permitted to use it to make a profit from making and managing driving test bookings.
Last summer the DVSA removed around 4,500 registrations that were not linked to driving instructors and increased protections against bots to block booking tests.
As of October 9, 2023, 573,726 practical in-car driving tests were booked and 83,152 driving tests were available within the 24-week booking window.
Technology expert Andrew Whaley, from cybersecurity firm Promon, told MailOnline: “Using bots to buy up test places is an example of a malicious business practice and is certainly contributing to driving up driving test prices in the UK.”
“This reflects a broader problem of technology being abused for profit at the expense of public accessibility.”
“Bots are indeed a powerful tool with their ability to mimic human behavior and perform tasks at lightning speed.”
“However, if they are exploited to secure driving test appointments and then resell them at higher prices, this creates an unfair situation for those wishing to take their test.”
“The consequences are twofold. It is becoming increasingly difficult for individuals to arrange appointments at a convenient time and some are having to pay exorbitant prices for the privilege of taking their driving test.”
DVSA chief executive Loveday Ryder said: “DVSA is committed to tackling the resale of driving tests for profit and we have zero tolerance for those who exploit learners.”
“We have changed the rules to prevent anyone from selling tests for profit, using new bot protection to prevent automated systems from buying up tests unfairly, and we will remove the accounts of those who violate the rules violated.”
LIDT rejected block booking tests, saying: “LIDT specializes in offering fast-track slots and dramatically reducing this waiting time.”
“If a candidate chooses to book one of our Fast Track slots, there will be an additional fee, alongside taxes and DVSA fees… for the expedited service we offer.”
MailOnline has contacted the Driving Test Exchange for comment.
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