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Bots beat learners to test slots

Learner drivers and riders are paying unofficial brokers up to £400 to avoid the waiting list for a practical test, or travel long distances to take their tests where slots are available. Over 500,000 drivers are now waiting for a practical test, thanks to a combination of increasing demand, industrial action and lack of public confidence in the system.

According to a report in The Observer, brokers are taking advantage of the waiting lists by booking available slots using ‘bots’ (pieces of software) as soon as they become available on the government website, then selling these on at a profit.

Driving instructors are calling for a ban on excessive profits from reselling test slots, and DVSA officials have described the practice as “a black economy.” The website Driving Test Exchange offers a driving test within two months for a fee of £255 (which includes the standard £62 test fee). The only alternative seems to be travelling to wherever a slot is available – one driving instructor based in Reading told The Observer she had taken pupils to West Wales for a practical test, because slots were unobtainable nearby.

Jim Freeman, Chair of the BMF, called on the DVSA to do more to reduce the backlog, and the scope for brokers to make excessive profits. “ So that’s what’s happened to all those ticket touts, they’ve branched out into driving tests. It also sounds like those dodgy sites offering access to YouGov sites, for a fee, which trapped the unwary who just pick the top search response, without reading the actual website they’re logging onto. Vultures the lot of them, they should desist, with prejudice.”

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top image courtesy of DVSA