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What we are doing to tackle companies selling driving tests for profit

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Driving instructors, Driving test, Feature

We want to update you on the measures we’ve introduced so far to help learner drivers from being exploited by people and companies selling them driving tests at an inflated price and on the impact, they are having on learners and our service.  

I also want to update you on our plans to update the terms and conditions for using the book and manage your pupil’s tests service and the ADI code of conduct.  

What our insight is telling us 

Over the last few months, we’ve been asking learners in our ‘unable to attend a car practical test’ survey if they have used any non-DVSA apps for their driving test booking. More than 1 in 4 learners said they had – 26.6% to be exact.  

41.8% of you also told us in our ADI demand survey carried out in January that your candidates' tests were also being moved by unofficial companies.  

It’s clear that this is a real issue, and we have already made steps to address it.   

What we have done  

Since we put in place measures to crack down on unofficial companies using our book and manage your pupils test service, we have seen a decrease in the number of learners who failed to attend their driving test.   

Between June 2022 and August 2022, the number of learners who did not turn up for their test fell from 6,598 to 4,625. This is lowest it's been since September 2021. This meant that an extra 1973 tests went ahead.   

We’ve carried out a number of measures to protect learners and the driving test service to reduce the number of wasted tests.  

  • In late 2021 we introduced Advanced Bot Protection (ABP) for all booking services. The ABP has successfully reduced bot traffic to the booking sites. Our market surveillance suggests some companies are ceasing to operate since DVSA introduced more robust controls. 
  • On 1 June, we: 
      • stopped accepting new automatic online registrations to use the service. New applications must be made by email, giving DVSA the opportunity to check them thoroughly  
      • stopped accepting any new registrations from companies that do not have an ADI associated with the business  
      • suspended around 4,500 registrations that were not linked to driving instructors 
      • removed around 7,500 dormant businesses or where the registration process was not fully completed 
      • reduced the number of times a driving test appointment can be changed from 10 to the pre-pandemic limit of 6  
  • On 30 June, we launched our text message reminder service for candidates to remind them of the details of their test 10 days and 6 days before.  
  • On 18 July, we launched our ‘Ready to Pass?’ campaign which has reached over 500,000 people and have directly encouraged learners to not use third party apps and use the official driving test booking service  
  • We’ll continually monitor bot traffic on our service and regularly review the effectiveness of the ABP. We also frequently meet with the ABPs software provider to see what updates are available to us to introduce help us to strengthen our protection, as bots adapt to get around controls  

We will continue to work tirelessly to crack down on people and companies that are exploiting learner drivers.  

Updating terms and conditions 

Before we can update the terms and conditions for using the book and manage your pupil’s test service, we need to carry out a review to see how businesses are swapping tests. 

At the moment the 2 ways of doing this are: 

  • online via the book and manage your pupils test service 
  • via emailing or phoning the customer services team  

To help us to gather your feedback we plan to include questions in next ADI demand survey to find out how you are using the service to swap driving tests.  

 We need this insight to help us better understand how the service is being used so that we can set controls to monitor the service and identify any businesses or individuals who are selling driving tests at a profit. We are also keen to make sure we are providing you with the service you need and are asking for feedback on ways we could improve the service.  

We’ll update you again in the coming weeks to let you know when the survey is live.  

We’ll also be running a separate survey for businesses who are using our services to book and swap large amounts of tests. To find out how more information about how they use the service now and also get their views on ways we could improve it.  

This survey will go live at the same time as the ADI demand survey.  

How you can help us now 

On average we are receiving 7200 number of calls per month. This has doubled since the pre-pandemic average of 3500. We now carry out over 4000 swaps per month via the customer service centre up from 560 per month (pre-pandemic).  

 The number of test swaps carried out via the book and manage your pupil;s tests service has also increase from 3,200 swaps per month (pre-pandemic) to over 17,000 per month. 

 Due to the high volume of calls we are receiving, if you have access to the book and manage your pupil’s tests service and have booked tests via the service you can also swap tests using the service.  

 Using our online business service only takes a matter of minutes to: 

  • book car, motorcycle and other types of driving tests for your pupils 
  • change, swap or cancel appointments you have booked 
  • confirm your pupil’s details before the test 
  • manage your availability for car driving test 

If you want to register for the 'book and manage your pupils test booking' service you'll need to contact DVSA. 

For all other swaps you can call our dedicated ADI priority telephone number on 0300 200 1122 (press the 2-digit fast track code) from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm to fast track your call.  

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  1. Comment by Robin C Lamport posted on

    Are Driving test legitimate?
    I have strongly advised parents who have ignored my advice to use the DSA site

    • Replies to Robin C Lamport>

      Comment by MR ANDREW E MILLARD posted on

      I got robbed by several, I gave up trying for a car licence and got a favourable full motorcycle licence in 1994. It took until 2018 to find an honest driving school. With my road knowledge and not being required to do a theory, I passed.

  2. Comment by Bhoopinder Pal Chodha posted on

    Keep it simple 1 test per person and no one should be able to buy tests in bulk

  3. Comment by Jack Brown ADI posted on

    Where is there ways to report Facebook groups? There are lots of Facebook groups, buying tests dates the second they come out. At all test centres, and then selling the test for the original test fee, PLUS £100 for the slot. They’re literally buying mostly all tests that come available so they can sell them on for £100.

  4. Comment by Dnan posted on

    It's Adis. Who are selling the tests. I believe there is corruption in the booking office and certain Adi. I have access to booking system yet can't see any slots. However students come to me with dates within a few days paying around 170 to 200.
    Dvsa need to sack their staff if they want to get rid of corruption and change the complete booking system.

  5. Comment by Graham carroll posted on

    That's great news, but I can't think of any reason why anyone, other than an instructor or pupil should have access to booking such a personal thing as a driving test. Yes there may be an exception, but not the norm.

  6. Comment by David Curwen posted on

    if candidates use the booking system, they should put in their driving instructor's ADI number and that will allow enable the DVSA to email the ADI this will have 2 advantages
    1. It will ensure that the ADI is aware of the change
    2. The DVSA will be able to assess if the lost tests are from ADI or non ADI tests. if a Candidate changes a test without speaking with the ADI then there may be a conflict and hence a test may be missed.
    The increased quantity of calls you are receiving will be, to a large extent because of the increased waiting time for a test clear the backlog and you will reduce the calls. (Common sense approach)

    • Replies to David Curwen>

      Comment by Ruth posted on

      Very sensible comments, ideas and observations

  7. Comment by Gavin Brownlie posted on

    You are not helping the situation If a pupil is looking for a test you have a 3-month waiting list They can contact a booking site they can get a test within weeks Where is that pupil going to go

  8. Comment by Brian posted on

    Not good enough. Simple solution is to remove the box 'to change the name of the person taking the test'..

    Why don't you ask advanced driving instructors to work as examiners for one day a week to reduce the backlog.

    Stop failing students for minor faults for example my Son failed recently for being poorly positioned in a right turn box. My Sons instructor was in the car, he told me he's offside wheel was just outside the box. He also had no minors. They expect the candidates to be accomplished drivers. We all know, when you do pass your test your not going to be the finished article.

    Now we have to wait 5 months for another test. Absolute joke...

    • Replies to Brian>

      Comment by Lisa Davies posted on

      Yep, this type of scenario happened to one of my sons three times before he passed. It has just happened again to my second son, who failed a test this week with a perfect drive but for one supposedly serious mistake. Why do they do this to young people who have worked so hard and paid out a fortune to become competent drivers ahead of the practical test? And now he is waiting again to book a test while none is available on the govt website, having waited six months to take the one that he just narrowly failed. It's a disgraceful situation.

    • Replies to Brian>

      Comment by Ndubisi Ifebajo posted on

      I completely agree that Driving Examiners need to be more realistic in what they consider to constitute a FAIL. The idea of failing candidates for very minor faults that does not constitute a danger or illegal Driving should be eradicated from the driving Test process.
      It appears that Driving Examiners see themselves as a type of "god" because their decisions are final. This is wrong. There should be a way of having a Second Independent opinion (Review)before a candidate is judged as having failed. The candidate's Driving Instructor should be part of this review. This would be beneficial to all especially when it comes to knowing which area needs improvement.
      I am talking from my experience of having taken the test Twice .
      I have been a Truck Driver for over 10 years in my home country with ZERO accident or mishap record!

  9. Comment by Martin posted on

    Although I heartily applaud your efforts at stopping these companies, the waiting list times nationally appear to be appalling. At my local test centre, Llanelli, the OBS currently (as of 22/9/22) shows dates to the 5/3/23 with zero tests show as available to book. I currently have 4 pupils who have paid me the £62 to book their tests and for the the last 4 months I've not been able to actually book a single test. I am now having parents moaning and giving me verbal abuse as there are no tests available and have so far lost 2 pupils (and refunded their £62) due to the waiting lists being so long and not tests being available to actually book

    • Replies to Martin>

      Comment by Neil posted on

      Simple solution - get pupils to book their own tests

  10. Comment by Colin Foster posted on

    Good, but it's about time, though...good to see there is a recruitment drive for examiners, but why close a busy test centre in High Wycombe,saying 'there is no demand' just 2 years ago? Then closing a reopened (not fit for purpose) test centre after 1 year?

  11. Comment by Stewart posted on

    How many people currently waiting for a driving test it must of came down a bit by now and have you guys got planes to change the driving test

  12. Comment by Delhad Ahmed posted on

    I think better going back to old system. Only candidates are able to test bookings.. No third party involved

    • Replies to Delhad Ahmed>

      Comment by Dnan posted on

      Absolutely correct. Only candidates should have access to system but no-one else.

  13. Comment by Pam Walker posted on

    How about number of passes/fails for those doing test in own car (school of mum/dad) against those with ADI?

  14. Comment by Mrs SC Kandemir posted on

    I’m so pleased something is being done, I’ve lost pupils through this. One pupil bought two tests £160, she wouldn’t let me have the name of the instructor. As didn’t want to get them into trouble. The tests were only one week notice, so I wasn’t able to take her. I LOST OUT.

    I have a few pupils that cannot get tests, and have nearly bought tests from different sites, I’ve told them not to encourage them.

    I was going to report one school to you before, but was worried to tell you. It is actually ZH driving school, they are selling tests £120.

    I’m loosing business through all this, even as far as pupils buying there own cars to do tests.
    Something needs to be done and fast.

    • Replies to Mrs SC Kandemir>

      Comment by Kunle posted on

      Candidates testing in their own cars is a very good idea. My ADI exploited me, charging double the rate (£160) because my DVSA-rescheduled test fell on a weekend and yet I did not pass. I later retested in my car (without him) and I passed with no glitch.

      More of the problem is with DVSA having too many backlogs that pupils who failed can't retest within weeks. DVSA atimes automatically reschedule tests to later dates and get waiting pupil unnecessarily agitated to scout for changing dates.

      Worst is that pupil spend more money on training when their test is delayed. I spent over £2000 on training because of test delays and rescheduling. Would you consider that fair?

  15. Comment by Mr.Muhammad Ikhlaq Khan posted on

    It's very good purposal. Iam trying to get practical driving test date since mid of August 2022 but not yet sexceed. Business companyes charging 30 to 50 pound extra money for it along with DVSA registration charges.

  16. Comment by Mike Carter posted on

    Last night, while sat in front of the telly between around 9 and 11pm, I was logged into the "book a pupil test" service, looking for tests in Reading or Farnborough. Every couple of seconds I was clicking on the "next available" button. Probably 99 clicks out of every 100 yielded nothing. But then all of a sudden a slot would appear, and I would immediately click on it.
    But on every single occasion, it had already been grabbed.
    Quite clearly I was competing against bots which have managed to bypass the DVSA's laughably inadequate bot prevention measures.
    There was one booking which I was able to grab, dated this coming Monday, ie too close to be eligible for a free cancellation or update, which is why the bots didn't grab it.
    What any reasonably IT-literate person would be able to see, is that the point at which a booking is grabbed is the point at which the grabber needs to prove he/she is not a robot.
    Come on DVSA, it really shouldn't be that difficult.

    • Replies to Mike Carter>

      Comment by Ruth Wallace posted on

      I echo your comments. Also DVSA ought to consider the time ADI's are spending search & trying to secure tests for their pupils. It's fastest finder first when trying to book tests. Totally unfair. And the Bots seem to win more than the ADI's.

  17. Comment by Sualdam MacSamildanach posted on

    I have always been completely opposed to any form of 3rd party test booking service and I never recommend to my pupils that they use one.

    The reason is that those dates have got to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is where genuine candidates are finding nothing available - the DVSA website.

    However, I know that some DO use cancellation checkers. If I can do the arranged date - and if I agree they are test ready, AND if it is at the test centre we'd been planning to use, AND if it isn't at ultra-short notice - then we will do it. But it does cause problems with overlaps of tests and moving other pupils.

    If DVSA provided the same service as these 3rd parties - alerts to cancellation dates - then the 3rd parties would cease to exist, since their relevance would disappear instantly. Even more so if instructors could see those changes in near-real time.

    Right now, it is an utter pain having to scroll week by week. I would love to see the whole three months at a glance. And I would love to get notification of available slots as they arise.

    If the 3rd parties were out of the frame, that would work if only instructors (and pupils) had access to bookings.

    • Replies to Sualdam MacSamildanach>

      Comment by Ruth Wallace posted on

      I agree to the bad design of having to scroll week by week. DVSA have no consideration to the amount of admin that ADI's are having to undertake just organise (and re-organise) their workload to try to accommodate the test time-table whilst maintaining their own training schedules combined with their other pupils training and personal commitments.

  18. Comment by Gemma Pym posted on

    I'm so pleased you've cracked down on the unofficial companies using the booking service. However this hasn't made much difference in opening up more test spaces. I think you need to recruit more examiners and open up more test times. Perhaps on Sundays? Also on bank holidays, instead of waiting for them to volunteer maybe make it part of a shift pattern or offer a better incentive where they may be more willing to work. At the minute my pupils can not get a test untill March, this is nuts, a massive 6 months away. I understand Covid created alot of backlogs and delays but other companies and services have managed to catch up. It really is unacceptable especially from a huge powerful government body such as the DVSA.

    • Replies to Gemma Pym>

      Comment by Maria posted on

      They do testing on 7 days a week including Bank Holidays.The problem is there are no test available for 4 months...And they fail you in case in the future the fault you do might happen...

  19. Comment by Michel posted on

    I think they have to make a system to inspect Lerner driving test because the exams pass them by choice and is really bad.i think something needs to be done about this.

  20. Comment by Jazz posted on

    I must say, I personally have not noticed any changes at all , still massive waiting times in West london.

    • Replies to Jazz>

      Comment by Paul posted on

      Absolutely right mate. Doesn’t matter what I do, I still can’t find any tests in SW London area. It’s an absolute joke. Bots and third party companies still being able to buy up tests before pupils or ADI/PDI’s can get a look in. It’s not fair and embarrassing for driving instructors. Paul(Donnington March 2022)

  21. Comment by Vince posted on

    This problem will never stop because its largely the ADI's themselves causing it. If you wish to stop this the solution is so simple. Candidate A books their test, they are the person that must show up on the day, if candidate A cannot take the test they must go online cancel it and book another. Stop all this switching tests between people and instructors making vast sums of money out of basically "ticket touting" test bookings.

  22. Comment by Michael posted on

    Based on what I have heard the efforts made so far have not been adequate all. I have not been able to book candidates ready for their test since April when we got a few slots. What has really changed since then? I believe system should be only available to Candidates and Adi to book test. The system should be able to verify each candidate via driving licence number and theory test, etc. Bulk booking without candidates details should be suspended for the time being. Perhaps we need to look at the IT company attempting to block automatic bookings on be half of DVSA

    • Replies to Michael>

      Comment by Tahira posted on

      I don't think instructors should be able to access the site at all as there are instructors who are holding dates and selling them at ridiculous prices on a daily basis

  23. Comment by Len posted on

    I'm an ADI, but I do not book test for my pupils due to fearing of losing/compromising their personal info. Also, the same pupil might want to go to the test with another ADI if I do not
    deem the pupil is ready (yet).

    However, it's common knowledge certain ADIs and their associates eg partners, etc, could get test dates promptly and resell at inflated prices; even a quick test could be turned into an emergency test (profiteer deliberately withholding booked test date) charging significantly more. These profiteers are mainly involved in Driver Training, and unscrupulous. They do not CARE! Money talks.

    Why does the DVSA not ban/accept booking payment from the same card booking in numbers regularly? Why does the DVSA not insist (for the time being) only pupils booked by their ADI turn up with no one else except their ADI or a parent? The same candidates turning up with the same ADIs and repeatedly failing sometimes at the same test centres must be deterred, or even ban for a period of time; ability to pay must not supercede ability.

    I hope The DVSA gets a grip very soon.

  24. Comment by Paul posted on

    This is very true. Some instructors have multiple test bookings and just keep swapping them around accordingly with their pupils. I understand why they do it as it gives them options but it should have to be like this. DVSA needs to get on top of this once and for all and put better controls in place to prevent Bots/third party companies buying up tests.

  25. Comment by Alan Johnston posted on

    I am an Adi and use the online booking system for all my students once they pass theory. Owing to significant backlogs of 24 weeks for driving tests in my local area I have now encouraged all new starters on my waiting list to pass theory prior to starting lessons and this is working very well ( I sign them up for free theory app)

    Once they pass theory they start lessons and I book a test on the system which means I have a test slot for all of my students from day one . It means that I can then swap test dates around amongst my current group of pupils so if they excel and test ready the date moves forward and if they struggle the test date is dropped back.
    All my students are signed up to this so they have what I call a floating test date which can easily be swapped by myself on the online system and ensures I only ever present candidates when they test ready. It also means if the odd candidate is unsuccessful on test date I am normally able to do a bit of tweaking to get them a quick retest within a couple of weeks

    As such have no problem at all getting test dates for any of my pupils who are all signed up to the flexible date system

    Note many of previous comments are of a negative nature but hope by sharing what works for me and my current pupils may assist the odd adi by looking outside the box and consider using ons system as above - Good Luck and if anyone wants advise re above text please message me

  26. Comment by MDL posted on

    This whole situation boggles my mind there one simple solution to this and that is to change the way in which The DVSA does business.

    Whilst we have a situation where anyone can book a test regardless of their ability, the problem will continue.

    This country needs to become more professional in the way that the path of learning to drives is conducted!

    Test should only be available to book through ADI's

    Test should not be available to anyone who has just passed a Theory test but has not had driving lessons. I am contacted regularly by people who have a test booked within a couple of weeks and want lessons to be able to take the test. I turn every one of them away.

    The DVSA continually state that standards need to be improved and they do across the board. But the law in this country allows anyone with 3 years driving experience to teach someone else to drive.
    How can they control the standard ?
    ADIs are monitored for professional stands and quite rightly too,. But where is the standard for learners that have not had profesional hours?
    The only way at the moment is that a test candidate that is ill prepared fails the test. But that is then a waisted test.

    ADIs are registered if any are found to be selling and profiteering from the sale of test, Then they should be removed from the register.

    I could go on and on and im sure most if not all ADIs would agree.

    The power to solve this situation is with the DVSA and for the law to be changed,
    A minimum amount of professional hours to attained before a learner can take a test. This happens in other countries and it should here too.

  27. Comment by The King posted on

    The issue here is ADI's with their web dev family or m8s scripting the OBS system AND using their pupils details to reserve the test slots without the pupil knowing, especially if the pupil doesn't book their tests.

    Theres a lot of rogue instructors out there and the fact is, no amount of bot protection will stop it. If there was a solution then gig ticket scalpers would be no more.

    The solution is clear, disable OBS pupil test swapping.

  28. Comment by Tracey Haisman-Baker posted on

    Luton , Bedfordshire have no test dates available as they are all bought by one driving school and then sold on at inflated prices. Been reported and still nothing done.

  29. Comment by Musaffar Hafeez posted on

    Please can you only let pupils book their tests and don’t allow any test swapping. Only let one pupil book one one test at one time , with their driving license number.

  30. Comment by Tahira posted on

    What can we do if driving instructors are selling dates on group cjats and it is happening often on a daily basis what can be done about those as its not fair on learners who are already struggling to pay for driving lessons then pay upto or over £200 per test for booking a driving test that instructors are selling to learners through instructors

  31. Comment by Neil posted on

    The DVSA should have allowed ADIs to pass students after the pandemic. If it's ok in schools, it's ok to ask experienced instructors which of their students are test standard.
    Also they should scrap all check tests, that would free up more examiners for students. Standards check tests are completely pointless, totally artificial and are a complete waste of time. They don't have standards check tests in any other job, so why the DVSA thinks they're necessary is beyond me.

  32. Comment by Asher M posted on

    They should simply stop the ability to swap tests. If you aren't ready in time you cancel your test and book a new one. That way people wont be able to sell a test which requires a 'swap'!

  33. Comment by Laura Dufton posted on

    I think only the candidate themselves should be able to book a test. They are given 48 hours to confirm the booking so they can check with the instructor regarding the time/Date and if they don't conform it gets put back on the system. I cant get a test for either of my kids and now my daughters theory will run out as she has gone to uni. So annoying.