Driving Test Booking Services

AA welcomes crackdown on rip-off websites

AA Driving School welcomes OFT action against rip-off driving test booking websites

29 December 2010

OFT crackdown after AA blows whistle on websites that target learner drivers with inflated fees

The AA has welcomed a new crackdown on rip-off online 'booking services' that charge unsuspecting learner drivers huge administration fees to book their test.

The Office of Fair Trading has confirmed it is now taking action through Trading Standards against 'websites that charge administration fees for consumers to book their driving theory or practical tests without clearly explaining the additional fees to the consumer'.

The action comes after AA Driving School highlighted cases where learners unwittingly paid surcharges of up to 65% by booking their test through third-party websites rather than directly through the Driving Standards Agency (DSA).

The complaints related to commercial websites that invite learners to enter their details and preferred dates for a DSA test. The details are the same as the learner would enter if booking directly with the DSA (which charges no booking fee). Some sites include 'DSA' in their Google search listings or web page headings, which can make it confusing as to whose site a learner is on.

Learners were then charged over £50 for a theory test for which the DSA charges £31, with the difference being levied as an 'administration fee'.

Others were hit with fees of up to £30 to book a practical test – on top of the standard DSA fees of £62 for a weekday test or £75 for a weekend or weekday evening – while bookings for extended tests attracted booking fees of up to £40.

Comment

AA Driving School Director Simon Douglas says: "There is no place for websites that charge learners huge fees to book their test without clearly explaining those fees. Learners can easily book directly with the DSA for no extra charge. 'Lookalike' sites that rip off learners must be shut down.

"Learning to drive is an investment in a valuable skill for life. But forking out big admin fees for do-little test 'booking services' is a waste of money few families can afford."

To avoid extra charges learners should book directly with the DSA, for the standard fee of £31 (theory test); £62 (practical test, weekday) or £75 (practical test, weekend or weekday evening).

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5 January 2011