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Further warnings as learner drivers conned of cash

Over the past few months there have been numerous warnings from official bodies, such as the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), about copycat websites over-charging people for a variety of services. Now, learner drivers are been urged to ensure they book their tests through the official portal; otherwise they could stand to pay a lot more than they should.

Many motorists have come unstuck in recent months, with websites mirroring official licence renewal or tax payment forms managing to dupe people into paying more than they should. For example, many people with private plates may have been conned into paying £40 administrative fees to deal with updated tax forms; a huge overcharge since the DVSA don’t invoice for anything more than the tax disc itself. In addition, all too often, the service simply filled out forms which still required car owners to send the documents to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) themselves.

Now, the DVSA has said that several copycat services are charging more than the recommended amount for driving tests. Though these sites aren’t illegal, they add money on top of existing fees, meaning that learner drivers have to pay even more than they should. The ethical nature of these websites has, unsurprisingly, been called into question. With the sum of both a theory test and practical examination already being quite high, having to pay even more money will be something people want to avoid. A practical test costs £62, whilst the theory is £25. However, in some cases, extras can cost up to £30 on top of this. And, whilst many promise people a free retest if they fail, upon reading the small print, very few learners actually qualify.

Chief executive of the DVSA, Alastair Peoples, said, “It is unacceptable that some of these websites try to trick learner drivers into paying an extra fee to book their driving test. We are working alongside other government departments to ensure that ads for misleading websites are removed. We want to make sure our customers are aware of the risks of these websites and know how to avoid them.”

There are plans afoot to crack down on websites that deliberately mislead consumers or masquerade as official websites. For example, the government is currently working alongside the National Trading Standards Board and the Advertising Standards Authority to bring enforcement action were possible, along with raising public awareness.

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