The Government reform to increase the use of the internet to contact the DVLA, to make routine enquiries and to book services, may have left the door open to unscrupulous traders seeking to take advantage. While many reforms are still to be implemented the confusion it creates may have left many counting the cost. There appears to be a growing number of bogus websites charging the unaware motorist highly inflated fees to book routine theory and practical driving tests.
The fees for booking a theory or practical test are priced at £31 and £62 respectively, the bogus websites claim to offer DVLA test booking services and are charging the unsuspecting as much as three times over these prices. Even though such independently run sites charge these prices the Office of Fair Trading has confirmed that they are not illegal. Generally the sites show as sponsored links when an internet search is made, they pay for a high ranking which make them appear high on the listings when a search is carried out which attracts the unaware to click through. Under experienced learner drivers and those whose internet use is limited, appear to be the prey for these fake sites.
Craig Gray, Service Centre Manager at CarShop commented on the fake websites,
“It’s concerning to see an increase in the amount of bogus DVLA websites that will happily take advantage of unaware motorists, costing them large amounts of money. Although the service is not illegal, I would recommend that users only pass their sensitive information directly through the DVLA website to ensure their privacy remains.”
Such outlets offer services which are known as “click and send” in which unsuspecting customers supply their details thinking that they have applied for their respective test only to receive a paper application completed with their details. The completed paper application still has to be sent off to officially apply for their tests. This is clearly not what the subscriber thought they had applied for but by then it’s too late as they have the money and as stated before, while it may be misleading, it is not illegal.
Any driver young or old who has any concerns on this or indeed any other motoring issues should check the official Government website of the DVLA. To remove any confusion when visiting websites that may appear to be “official” a vital indicator is that all official government websites always end with the letters GOV.UK without exception. The DVLA website can supply you with all the relevant information you require in conjunction with theory or practical driving tests.
Additionally if you, your friends or anybody you know has been a victim of these unscrupulous website traders there is some action you can take by contacting theAdvertising Standards Agency. Additionally, if you see a website or advertisement that appears to be dubious they can be reported to the aforementioned body that can check on the validity of their claims or terms. In the case of the websites who dupe people into thinking they have completed their application for theory or practical driving tests, because they are not illegal, you will not get your money back and the ASA may be limited as to what they can do. However, in cases where advertising law has been broken they present a formidable opponent to illegal traders who prey on the innocent.