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[NEWS] Learner drivers urged to avoid hyper-inflated driving-test slots

Learner drivers urged to avoid hyper-inflated driving-test slots

L Plate on Peugeot

BBC finds scalpers are bulk-booking test slots in the wake of the pandemic and charging more than £200

Learner drivers are spending hundreds of pounds on their driving tests after a loophole allowed scalpers to bulk-book slots and sell them on for profit.

Some learners have spent more than £200 on booking a practical test, despite it officially costing between £62 and £75, to bypass a long backlog in the wake of the pandemic.

As reported by the BBC, the worst-affected areas – including Birmingham, Cardiff and London – have no new test slots available until September or October.

A BBC investigation has uncovered that many are now turning to scalpers and paying hugely inflated prices.

Some are even paying firms to source cancelled tests across the country, which they can then book.

In response, the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has urged applicants to use its official website if they want to book a test.

It told the BBC that it uses automated software for bookings, adding that the system is "imperfect" as it "relies on trust".

In a statement, a DVSA spokesman said: "We urge applicants not to use any third-party cancellation-checking services and to always go through the official DVSA website.

"We've already put in place measures to monitor and prevent bots from accessing our systems, while also strengthening our firewall to tackle the issue."

As part of the investigation, the BBC uncovered that it was able to bulk-book tests by pretending to act on behalf of a fake driving school. It found that little verification was needed to sign up, with no requirement for official documentation.

Each booking did, however, still require a provisional licence to be entered. But this could be sourced, and the licence-holder wouldn't be notified that a booking using their details had been made. Once this booking had been made, it could be easily swapped between candidates, meaning scalpers are able to sell them on.

The DVSA confirmed that it's illegal to book a driving test using someone else's details without their consent.

It added that it will be conducting out-of-hours testing and recruiting more examiners in an attempt to clear the driving-test backlog.

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