Are Online Bots Driving Up Test Fees?

Thu 9th Jun 2022

A major backlog in available driving test slots has led to many thousands of drivers paying over the odds to secure an opportunity to get their driving licence, but now the DVSA has admitted that their booking system is ‘imperfect’.

While the problem has been exploited with some driving instructors offering priority tests to the highest bidder, an investigation by the BBC found that the problem was being made worse by opportunists who were bulk-buying driving test slots and selling them on at an extreme profit.

When booked through the official DVSA website, the test should cost between £62 and £75 dependent on what time of day you take your test. But some learners have been forced to pay more than £200 to third parties to take their practical test, to companies and individuals who are not remotely connected to the driving industry.

Many areas of the UK no longer have test slots available for the remainder of 2022, including cities such as London, Birmingham and Cardiff, but the bulk-booking scalpers might even be using online bot technology to snap up the opportunities, denying real learner drivers in the process. The pent up demand has led to many paying the premium, and others are paying finer firms to source them a cancelled test.

Unfortunately the DVSA does not appear to be in a position to fix the problem, with the organisation admitting to the BBC that their booking system is ‘imperfect’ and relies on trust.

The BBC proved the failure of the process by posing as a fake driving school to be able to bulk-book the tests. While a provisional licence is required, these details can later be changed, even though the DVSA claims that this is illegal.

In a statement the DVSA said that the only safe way to secure a test was to book the tests themselves, saying: “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."