Friday, 20 December 2013

I'm still here

Apologies for the big gap in posts, Christmas prep sucks up a lot of time especially with two children who are still in the believing stage. Plus nativity plays etc.

I had to break out the sunglasses this week for the low winter sun which has been so dazzling. I keep a pair in the car and am not too bothered that I look like a fool, much better than having a crash.

It's also worth remembering at this time of year that you are supposed to have some form of lights on the car if the day is grey or overcast (it's in the Highway Code I believe). If you aren't sure then look at the cars around you. If I count four or five cars with their lights on I pop mine on. It makes it so much easier to be spotted on the roads especially if you have a grey or darker coloured car.

Also indicators, I drive myself crazy ranting about people who don't use indicators. Seriously, they are not much effort and a very good idea. Even if you can't see another car on the road it doesn't mean there isn't one just about to come into view and they are also hugely useful to keep pedestrians safe as well. If a pedestrian is waiting to cross the road they need to know which way you are going so they know when it is safe to cross, especially if it is a side road. Roundabouts are much safer if you know where the people are going to come off!

Lots of driving over the next week including the M25. I don't understand why people are so scared of motorways, as long as you are alert and aware then you are fine. Just for the love of god DON'T GO AT LESS THAN 60. I had to sit behind a twit going at 40 for ten minutes the other day before I could escape because everyone was changing lanes behind me and I had been caught behind him joining the motorway from the slip road. And if you are going that slowly in the middle or right hand lane then there are no words for how twattish you are. Look in your window sir, that four mile tailback behind you is your work.

Ah, listen to me, I am beginning to sound like a driver!

Anyway Nippers School of Motoring in Clacton and Steve Eggleton ripped me off and failed to teach me anythingn useful about driving, except for how to spot a crap driving instructor which came a bit late.

Monday, 25 November 2013

No one to protect interests of learners

Since sharing my story I have heard and become aware of lots of similar situations with other learners who have also run into incompetent or poor driving instructors and companies. It seems to me that there is very little protection for the learner, especially the young and easily intimidated learner in these sorts of situations.

I have come across instructors who shorten or share lessons, who are creepy/lecherous, who overcharge, who have unclear pricing schemes, who take learners only on one route (that one sounds familiar!), who stretch out lessons unnecessarily, who shout, who terrify their students, who do not explain why you should do certain things in certain ways, who sit and chat for an hour rather than teach you, who have filthy badly maintained cars etc. I know of someone who spent her first six 'free' hours sitting in a local carpark because the offering of the free lessons meant the instructor had to cut down petrol etc costs so he was reluctant to go any where. I have heard of instructors nodding off in the passenger seat, using learners to get them from A to B to do errands, taking extraordinarily long toilet breaks every lesson,  touching up the seventeen year old student next to them, teaching bad habits and generally just not caring.

Now I know there are some excellent, meticulous, enthusiastic, caring instructors out there, I was lucky enough to get one the second time around. But in an industry that makes the majority of its money out of teenagers and young adults (who are also statistically more likely to have a car accident) avenues for complaint and redress are few.

Everything is weighted towards the livelihood of the driving instructor, their right to be able to continue to earn money. There is very little consumer protection and this has shocked me, especially with companies starting to offer more and more intensive driving courses which are a)hugely expensive and b) come with very restrictive terms and conditions. Essentially you have to choose wisely otherwise you have lost a lot of money, to teach an intensive course well is a skill (not possessed by Steve Eggleton). So where is the help out there to help us pick a competent driving instructor?

The DSA? Well you have seen from my previous posts how much I rate their evaluation system. You just have to turn up on the day and pull out all the stops and thats all you are rated on. You need lots of complaints for action to be taken against you.

Driving Schools? You would think that driving schools would endeavour to only recruit the best driving instructors to ensure their joint name is not sullied and their reputation is kept high. A driving school that can offer only the best quality instructors has the market sewn up. But driving schools are merely a convenience for the driving instructors. They merely manage bookings and provide a more visible presence. They are after the money, service comes further down the line.

Review sites? Still in their infancy and barely used. Nippers have 30 or so reviews on the biggest one. There are very few for individual instructors.

Impartial driving test websites? Lots of these websites offer lists of instructors in addition to test resources, but there is very little out there on how to choose a driving instructor, what the key points to look for are. Perhaps not a problem if you only (!) stand to lose the cost of a few lessons if you make a mistake and a bad choice, but what if you are investing hundreds of pounds in an intensive course?

So here are a preliminary list of things I would look for in a GOOD driving instructor:

-Clean (This sounds silly but Steve was often filthy, his car was filthy and it wasn't pleasant to drive the car. This was also reflected in the maintenance of the rest of the car)
-Well-organised and on time (So, so important)
-Student focused learning (being adaptable to the needs of the student is vital. No point plugging along doing the same things over and over and over following the same plan and route for every student)
-Calm (goes without saying really, doesn't it. Nothing worse than an angry or aggressive passenger to make a learner nervous)
-Has plenty of resources (if a student doesn't understand you need to have other ways to show them, not repeat and repeat and make the student feel stupid)
-Takes lots of notes (otherwise ten minutes of the lesson is spent rehashing and reminding. Pam leapt into the car with her folder open to my page and always noted down concerns, problems and issues as we went along so were always focusing on weak spots)
-Patient (as with calm, somethings take time to learn)
-Willing to explain (if you don't explain, how can you stop the person repeating the original problem?)
-Does not shout or humiliate (counterproductive, Steve Eggleton)
-Ensures you get the time you pay for (if you pay for an hour, you should get an hour. Any toilet breaks taken by the instructor, late arrival, early departure etc should be caught up. Five minutes doesn't sound like much but over 60 hours I lost a lot of money to Steve. I also lost money as I was paying to sit in front of the test centre for forty minutes before each test, just chatting. UNACCEPTABLE)
-Is willing to practice certain things over and over again to boost confidence (yup. just once isn't enough)

There is probably more but time for another little reminder of why I started this blog:

Steve Eggleton of Nippers School of Motoring, Clacton, failed to teach me to drive because his method was to sit in the car and chat, mock, gossip and shout at other motorists. He thought it was OK to take a learner around London and on the A12 for 6 solid hours with no food or drink breaks for anyone because he wanted to get the paid for hours out of the way. He failed to teach even the basics and cost me over £1000. I had to start from basics with a new instructor as he hadn't even taught me cockpit drill. He was regularly finishing early, took up five to ten minutes of each lesson with extended toilet breaks and didn't give me (or complete) a single bit of paperwork.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Winter sun

Having learned to drive in the summer the winter is providing all sorts of new challenges.

-ice on the windscreen in morning. No longer can I just jump into the car and zoom off. The first time it took me a while to cotton on to why the windscreen wipers weren't clearing the screen before I set off. Not looking forward to having to clear off snow in a few weeks, especially from the car roof.

-dazzling from the lower winter sun. I have been shocked by how much visibility decreases in these conditions. Add in a wet road and the lines and markings are so much harder to see, I've been going a bit slower in these conditions.

-I'm actually using the demisters and am getting good at working out how they work and when I need them. Theoretical knowledge is no replacement for being in the situation and I never had to use them whilst learning to drive. Another reason I wish I had spread the lessons about a bit so I could have experienced a range of conditions with a competent instructor.

-cars get cold. My kids don't like getting cold and a cold steering wheel is grim. So I now need to remember how to work another set of knobs and dials that I didn't need in june, July and August!

Weirdly I had 27 visitors to this site yesterday, hello!

By the way, if you get right up behind me and start pressurising me to go faster when I am doing the speed limit, then I'm slowing down. Generally I am in no hurry and I am certainly not getting a speed ticket for you. If I get six points I have to retake my test. Not going to happen!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Been a while

It has been a while since I last posted, life ran away with me somewhat. Not only am I now a student, I am now a volunteer!

So, a recap.

I paid Nippers an awful lot of money and got a totally shit instructor and severely dented self-esteem. Steve Eggleton failed to teach me to learn to drive, put me in a dangerous situation on several occasions, was generally unpleasant to be around. Nippers School of Motoring were no help and customer service is poor. DSA fobbed off my complaint.

The last few months have been a steep learning curve, driving at night, driving in adverse weather conditions, driving on motorways, learning to navigate whilst driving. It has been simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating. I have been joking with my husband that a new driver needs a sticker book with stickers for each new achievement like:

My first sneeze whilst driving
My first motorway
My first drive with the radio on
My first navigation software
My first M25 toll
My first night drive
My first moving of the hands away from the 10-12 / 9-3 position on the wheel
My first 'crossing of the hands' rather than push pull.
My first rude gesture
My first aggressive move
My first turning the headlights on whilst driving
My first demisting
My first drive in a pair of shoes that aren't 'driving shoes'
My first drive with an annoying passenger
My first near miss with a bloody stupid wild animal
My first drive without my nose placed against the windscreen

Low point was driving on the A12 in driving rain and spray, seven 'o' clock at night, dark dark dark, really busy. Had to prise my fingers off the steering wheel at the end but I did it. With kids in the car as well, tired kids who squabbled. I figured if I can do that I can do anything.

After three months of driving in all sorts of conditions and all over London and motorways etc:

Number of accidents: 0
Number of injuries: 0
Damage to the car: 0
Times reversed around a corner: 0
Times reverse parked: 2
Times parallel parked: 1
Times done a three point turn: 80 million
Times driven forwards into car parking space: Many Many (WHY DON'T WE GET TAUGHT HOW TO DO THIS!!!)

I am much more confident behind the wheel and my confidence and competence is improving everyday.

Anecdotal statistics:
We live on one of the main driving test routes and see 15-20 driving school cars everyday just when we are out and about. The majority are Castle and Mutlows, I would say 75% of the cars I see are from these two companies. I have seen quite a lot of one man band independents and also Hansons, Panda, Ellis ABC (I recommend these as well as Pam Sinclair, I have heard good things about them). In the last month I have seen just two Nippers cars, neither of them Steve Eggleton, hopefully this reflects their poor reputation. I have come across two other people who have had bad experiences with Nippers, that is now six....or seven, can't remember, not really keeping track any more.

So, I shall return and burble some more when I next find a few minutes.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Just a little reminder of why you should complain to the DSA

Why should you complain about a driving instructor?

Why should you complain to the DSA?

Answer: Because this is the ONLY way you have of contributing to a bad driving instructor being taken off the road. You won't get your money back necessarily but if you don't complain to an external authority then no-one will know and they get to continue to rip other people off. Its in the company's interest to keep complaints quiet, but by all means complain to them too in case they are a good company (unlike Nippers).

If all the people who had shit experiences with Steve Eggleton had complained then the DSA would have had to take action, but just one complaint doesnt do it, there needs to be more. So this man gets to continue giving his terrible driving lessons in a town that he doesnt really know (and wasnt bothered about knowing). So he got another £1000. Think of that. The terrible driving instructor profited from the silence of all those who had terrible experiences, who wrote it on their to-do list and forgot or who were too frightened to do it for whatever reason (believe me I was terrified too, Steve is scary and knew where I lived).

The DSA are useless at this, their methods of checking the quality and safety of driving instructors are poor, their check test is laughable when the instructor gets to choose, prep and prime the test subject/learner driver. Who might even be an experienced driver with many years experience.

And the non-nice part of me, the part that is hidden and hurting from all the damage Steve did, likes the idea of the extra effort and stress I put him through dealing with the DSA. I'd like to think he took it as a wakeup call but somehow I doubt that.

Anyway, mean bit over, here is a breakdown of what happened when I complained (you can see the email and replies below in previous posts).

1.Verbal Complaint to Nippers (fobbed off twice)
2. Emailed complaint to the DSA (told they wouldn't take it further unless I let Steve have the right of reply. I emailed back to agree)
3. Written complaint to Nippers (totally ignored, nice company eh? Really care about their customer's distress)
4. Reply from DSA stating Steve is a big fat liar and they believe him and are unconcerned about any possible danger he might present (ok, paraphrasing and reading between the lines).

In this business it is your word against the driving instructor and they are ALWAYS going to believe the driving instructor as it is their livelihood on the line. But they cannot ignore many many complaints as easily as a lone one (even though I know I am not alone, I cannot prove it). So the only power we have is in numbers, complain, complain even though its frightening and time consuming, this is one of the few times when a complaint REALLY makes a difference to the way things are run. Be honest, be fair but fuck it, COMPLAIN.

Lets get those terrible driving instructors off the roads, lets make sure that all driving instructors are like Pam Sinclair rather than Steve Eggleton.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Nippers Terms and Conditions

I was going through all my Firefox bookmarks in an attempt to get slightly more organised when I found the link to Nippers terms and conditions. I hadn't seen them for a good few months and I suspect a lot of people book with big companies without reading their Terms and Conditions, so its worth going through them.

Remember if you sign up for an intensive course you are handing over a LOT of money at once, not £20 for each lesson. If something goes wrong and you refer to the terms and conditions you will see that there is pretty much NO chance of getting Nippers to refund anything, even if they have provided a terrible instructor. They wash their hands of you, it is not their responsibility, you have to discuss it with the individual instructor and try and persuade them to give you some money back. Otherwise there are no other routes to get money back except for Small Claims Court and all the hassle and expense that entails. So don't book a big company thinking that your money is protected and you have some fallback. You don't, you really really don't. They couldnt care less.

Nippers Terms and Conditions are here:

Lets go through the important ones:

1. Nipper's School of Motoring only use CRB checked, fully qualified, Driving Standards Agency (DSA) approved driving instructors.

-Sounds good doesn't it. But you can see from my dealings with the DSA and some revelations about the check test that this means very little and tells you nothing about the quality of the instructor provided. Steve did his check test with a carefully selected pupil (who could already have been a driver for a long time according to the lack of regulations), pulled out all the stops, rather than sitting and chatting rubbish for two hours and passed. There are several levels of pass as well, levels 4, 5 and 6. Worth finding out what level your instructor is at even if the test is a load of rubbish.

4. All persons booked onto ANY course must reach the standard expected from the DSA before they will be allowed the use of the tuition vehicle for the practical test. The instructor will make the decision as to whether or not this standard has been achieved at the end of the course. Their decision must be taken as final.

-Sorry, I'm sniggering here. Five tests it took me due to the yawning gaps in my knowledge and skill. And as you can see from my previous posts, I was dangerous. Really dangerous. So dangerous I was having nightmares for weeks about taking my kids out. But hey, why not take the test (s) anyway, good experience, right? Oh wait......

5.It is not Nipper's School of Motoring's policy, nor that of the DSA to allow pupils to take their driving test for the "experience".


Now 12 and 13 are interesting. I believe they are new additions. I find myself unable to copy and paste from the site itself so I have typed all of these out from the site. I have corrected all the spelling/capitalisation mistakes.

12.Your instructor is a self-employed franchisee ("Your Instructor") of Nipper's School of Motoring. Nipper's School of Motoring acts as a agent for your instructor in receiving your payments for driving lessons other than payments made directly by you to your instructor. The contract for driving lessons is solely between ("You") and your instructor.
13.If any complaints arise these should in the first instance be discussed with your instructor, then in writing to Nipper's School of Motoring.

So there we have it. Nipper's merely provide you with the name of an instructor, if anything goes wrong or you get an incompetent one you have no fallback, even if they have recommended them. You must discuss it with your unpleasant driving instructor, who knows where you live and has no reason to even listen to your complaints. And if you complain to Nippers you will get fobbed off.  Drawback number 561 of using an intensive course, once they have your money, thats it, you wont get it back. There is no where to go for complaint resolution or any form of restitution and in this business all the power is behind the instructor. You should still complain though, the more complaints, the more indication that there is something wrong. I know a lot of people feel scared/indimidated etc about doing this, but if the people who had experienced this before had done what I am doing, I never would have wasted my time or money on Nippers or Steve Eggleton.

If I was learning to drive again I would have gone with a local independent who had been recommended to me (Pam Sinclair, or Ellis ABC) and I would have paid for several two hour lessons a day if necessary, but on my timetable and paying for each one at the time. I would have spent less because I would actually have had a competent instructor who was interested and committed in teaching me to drive SAFELY and COMPETENTLY, rather than chatting. If there had been a problem I would just have cancelled my lessons within 24/48 hours and walked away, rather than being committed. I also would have read everything possible about good driving instructors, which would have helped me realise how crap Steve was much sooner.

With an intensive course if you have an issue with the instructor the short time scale means it is very hard to change instructor and you run the risk of losing the money you have paid out in test fees. There is no benefit to going with one of these companies, no extra protection. In fact you just have to deal with two sets of incompetent arseholes, rather than just the one.

Nippers final Term/Condition is amusing:

14.Nipper's School of Motoring reserve the right to alter these terms and conditions as necessary.

So they could theoretically change the boundaries on you, mid way through the course. So rule number 1, take a copy of the terms and conditions, screen shot, photograph, insist on a print copy from Nippers if necessary, but make sure you have a copy of the Terms and Conditions YOU signed up to. Its a lot of money.....

Friday, 4 October 2013

Four hundred visits

Four hundred visits to the blog, hello to you all!

I've also had a response from my Dooyoo review (written in August) from someone who had searched the site for a review on Nippers.  I got a message through the site system asking me for recommendations    ( I offered this at the end of the review) and sent her to the two driving instructors in Colchester that I know are good- Pam Sinclair and Ellis ABC. So that's another person discouraged from Nippers.

Plus one of my Facebook friends in Colchester just had her daughter pass her driving theory test. I sent her a public message just reminding her of the nightmare I had with Nippers. Turns out she has been passing the word around too for me and with three teenage and young adult children she is probably having more of an effect that I am.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Three hundred visits

Three hundred visits so far to this blog (and they aren't all me as I have it set not to count my visits).

Not bad.

Lots of people have asked me about learning to drive (one child at school, one child at playgroups and nursery) and I have been honest each time. I have nothing good to

They say that no one remembers a good review, only the bad. Well there are now a lot of bad ones out there about Nippers School of Motoring and Steve Eggleton. Plus I am active on local Facebook groups and student websites (I'm a student too) just happily sharing my experiences if the subject comes up, not shouting about it, just mentioning it, often by private message. Oh and Mumsnet of course.

So far I have definitely discouraged three people from taking intensive courses with Nippers (that  I know) that's £2400 minimum. I have a long memory, won't be long before my daughter and her friends are thinking about driving lessons, older siblings of her friends are even closer to that point.

People remember bad experiences, Nippers and when a business relies on word of mouth, its a mistake to provide a poor service and then terrible customer service.

And the blog? It's staying up and active. It's still there if you google all sorts of things, especially things like Steve Eggleton driving instructor, Steve Eggleton Nippers etc.

I have dabbled with taking this further, I have the small claims court papers ready to fill out but I have a little bit of time still to make that decision.  Steve would lie, his job is on the line if he tells the truth, but as time passes I am beginning to see what a sad little man he is. At the end of the day he has to live with himself and I get to be grateful everyday that my concentration didn't slip on that London trip and I am still here and in one piece.  And anger and shock about the fact that I almost died of course, that's always a bit of a shock to the system ( for anyone who can't be bothered to read the whole thing, Steve got me to drive for six hours around London with no food, drink or rest breaks, with mirrors set wrongly, five days after getting into the drivers seat for the first time).

Friday, 20 September 2013

DSA complaint response

No response from the letter to Nippers, unsurprisingly I suppose. Why would they care about customer service or the well being of customers, they employ Steve after all.

I usually try to be balanced and open minded when thinking about this whole business as I am dealing with people who don't think like normal, well balanced individuals and getting mad does nothing but raise the blood pressure.

But now I am mad, really really cross.
I got a response to my DSA email, well over four weeks since I last heard from them.

Now the normal, well balanced part of me is thinking, well, what did you expect, they don't want to admit to administering a check test to a dangerously lazy incompetent that was so easy that it didn't pick up on any of his lack of skills, common sense and decency. The customer is always wrong in their case.

Also I didn't expect really that Steve would tell the truth, its his job and his licence on the line, so he wasn't going to say 'yes, I am a shit driving instructor, please take my license away', but I am still shocked that he could lie so much ( and I am trying not to think about what he might have said about me, but as I am not allowed to know, I will just have to leave it to my imagination).

So, people of Essex, beware of any car with the Nippers logo, it could carry a fat, bald, short man who is completely unable to teach the basics and is a wanker to boot.

Anyway, here is the reply from the DSA:

Driving Standards Agency
T    0300 200 1122
F    0300 200 1155
(Sarah Drew)
by email: {redacted}

20 September 2013

our ref: 1309/00373

Dear (Mrs Drew)

Further to our email of 12 August we have now received comments from Steve Eggleton in response to your complaint. 

It is difficult to reconcile such differing viewpoints and I am afraid that under the circumstances we cannot take your complaint further.

As mentioned previously in our email of 12 August, in line with our standard practice we will keep all correspondence relating to your complaint on file for two years and add a record of this complaint against Mr Eggleton on the Register.

Yours sincerely

Katie Mountain
Corporate Correspondence

Customer Operations
For information about our complaints procedure, please click here

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

A little extra bad advice

Driving around today I remembered another thing I was told to do by Steve.

To drive as close to the central line of the road as I could.

My second instructor spent a lot of each lesson telling me to move close to the pavement  as I had more than a metre of space between me and the side of the road. Fair enough on country roads with overgrown bushes or with cyclists but anywhere else it puts you at a much higher risk of a head on collision with oncoming traffic.

And with cyclists I had to go right onto the other side of the road with Steve -  not just straddle the central line but right over the opposite side of the road, which obviously is terrifying for a learner and everyone else on the road.

I had forgotten to mention that he tapped my wrist a few times when  I did something wrong.

All things that I wish I had mentioned in the complaint and to the DSA.

No response yet

Title says it all. Not heard anything back from Nippers School of Motoring or Steve Eggleton yet.

Perhaps they are still reading the complaint letter as it was four pages long in the end!

If anyone has found this blog as they have him as an instructor, bad luck, see if you can change. If you want the full story, start with part one and work through, I'm happy to answer any questions.

I had a nightmare last night that I had  passed my first driving test. I was really close to passing as a number of lucky things happened - I got the kind examiner in a good mood, almost empty roads, the manoevre I was best at on an empty street and the examiner ignored many of the little mistakes that I made that I got minor faults for on later tests. However I was in no way a safe and competent driver  as I couldn't

- drive and read road signs (my independent drive on this test was just 'first right, then left, then third exit at the roundabout, no sign reading as on later tests).
-meet other cars
-pull in and move off safely on a road with traffic
-deal with double roundabouts
-use my mirrors safely when manoevring, especially around roundabouts.
-drive at a speed commensurate with the road conditions
-work out what speed I should be doing
-hazard spot competently
-drive without getting flustered and overwhelmed
-deal with traffic lights at junctions eg filter arrows, when I had to stop and wait for opposing traffic. On several occasions when turning right and catching sight of the red light for the traffic behind me, I slammed on my brakes.
-couldn't parallel park or bay park
-didn't know all the things to look out for when reversing around a corner and what to do if I was obstructing traffic.
-couldn't hill start
-couldn't find a comfortable driving position
-couldn't use lights, wipers or indicators properly
-Couldnt deal with any roundabouts that were unusual or didn't fit an exact pattern
-was still coming to a complete stop at EVERY junction, crossroads and roundabout before looking at the the oncoming traffic to see if it was safe to go. Fine when you are in a marked car as a learner, but as a new driver you run the risk of being shunted from behind as the drivers behind are also watching the traffic and if the road is empty they will expect you to react faster and move faster.

Steve was happy to let me potentially pass the test with all those dangerous gaps in my knowledge. My second instructor was shocked as she knew ( as did he) that I have young children and this would have put them at serious risk.

The cynical side of me noticed that the examiner and Steve knew each other and had worked together in the past. But I wouldn't like to say anything more about that as it is a supposition and unfair to both parties (even incompetent Steve) to say more than that.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Found another disgruntled ex pupil

Not of Steve's but of Nippers.

Someone on one of the Facebook groups I visit asked for recommendations for colchester driving instructors. The second or third answer was 'not Nippers'. I contacted the lady and she had a dreadful experience with them three years ago with another instructor. She had a years worth of lessons and had to start again from scratch with another company. No apology from Nippers of course. And refund? No chance, not their problem. I gave her the Watchdog email address.

That was two days ago and as its a fast moving board the conversation sank down. To my surprise someone this morning posted 'NIPPERS OF CLACTON HELPED ME GREATLY ASK FOR STEVE HE WAS FANTASTIC'.


To be fair Clacton has its own test centre so perhaps Steve is better on his own ground (he lives there) but it just amused me.

Just in case it was Nippers and they find me here too - I'd like a refund please.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Posted the Letter!

Signed for.

About twenty minutes ago (1.30pm).

So, now we wait.

The general content was the same as the DSA one, except for the final bit at the end where I asked for money back.

Also this blog now appears on google and can be searched for. It also appears when you type in Steve Eggleton Nippers and Steve Eggleton driving.

The first thing I did when I learned his name was google him but there is nothing about him on the internet. Well there is now.

Pam Sinclair

My good instructor, the one who helped me pass my test, was organised, focused and helpful was Pam Sinclair. She is a Colchester independent who has been an instructor since 1993.

I thoroughly recommend her, she is meticulous, pupil focused and incredibly kind and patient.

I came across her by chance on one of the driving instructor websites, but she packed more into the fifteen hours that I had with her than Steve did in 56 hours. She listened, she asked me what I wanted to focus on each lesson and she explained exactly why we do what we do when driving, what is safe and what isn't. She never made me feel silly or guilty and whilst she talked a lot, she didnt expect constant conversation and chit chat.

Every lesson she turned up with a notepad to make notes on what I wanted to do and we discussed what we had done in the past. She had a big book of resources and laminated roundabouts to explain things. We bay parked and parallel parked until I cracked it and then did it again and again so I could gain confidence. When I did something wrong she didnt shout or moan, she gently explained why it wasnt a good idea and helped me avoid doing it again in the future.

Needless to say, she was the complete opposite of Steve.


I put in my first complaint on the 25th July 2013. I phoned the Colchester number at 10.45am. I listed my complaints and was told someone would phone me back ASAP.

I checked up on my complaint on the 29th July 2013 at 11.30am.  This time I called the Clacton number. The person hadnt heard of my complaint (do they get so many?) but I was told someone would phone me back ASAP.

I was called by Nippers on the 29th July 2013 at 2pm. All of my complaints were refuted, Steve was robustly defended. Apparently he had never been complained about before but my complaint would stay on file for the future. The trip to London was by mutual agreement. They weren't going to do anything about him. I extended my complaint to the fact that Nippers were offering a service (intensive driving course, test standard in 40 hours) and had failed to meet their obligation. They had also failed to find an appropriate instructor or ensure that he was doing a good job. I was told that I had received tuition so that was the end of it as far as they were concerned. They offered me Steve's mobile number and told me to take it up with him.

I have to admit to not sending my complaint letter to them as promised. I was waiting until I had passed my test. It will be done and I will share their response on here.

Amount wasted with Nippers

3 Driving Tests at £62 each- £186

40 Hours Intensive Course - £771

16 Hours Subsequent Lessons at £20 an hour - £320

Plus 15 Hours with a New Instructor at £23 an hour - £345

Plus One More Failed Driving Test at £62 (The fifth was successful)

Total- £1684

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Post test behaviour

Steve- 'oh you really must have thought that you were going to pass that time', 'did you think that you were close to passing.'

He insisted that he should drive home.  On the drive he 'joked' e.g when I looked at the back of the test form to see what it said he laughed and said 'planning on appealing were you? Not much chance of success I think'. He did his best to get me angry with the examiners and made me feel like the whole thing was completely unfair. Then I had to organise my next test and lessons ever so quickly.

Pam- 'well one of those faults was disputable but the examiners are only human. The other fault was a definite mistake.' Then I got to drive home myself. Half way home she said ' are you in a rush, we could redo the route if you like', so we did. I got to see immediately where I had made my mistakes with her giving kind but constructive feedback all the way. She never made me feel bad or like I had let her down (unlike Steve), and she gave me a hug and told me I was a good driver when we got back.

I really wish I had met her first.

Passed my test, fifth time lucky

On the 20th August in fact.

I got the terrifying examiner, garnered eight minor faults, made two stupid mistakes due to pure nerves (hill start in neutral, stopped at keep clear line rather than white line at traffic lights), but I passed even so.

I needed 15 extra hours with a competent instructor to get me up to standard and at least forty more hours of extra driving practice in my own car. Even the day before the test the new instructor and I were still finding massive gaps in my knowledge, she had assumed I knew how to adjust everything to find a good driving position (elementary along with the rest of cockpit drill, none of which I was EVER taught by Steve), but I was still sitting wrong and pressing the bloody pedals with the 'wrong' part of my feet.

I can also add another dangerous area to the areas that were left uncovered by Steve.

1. Layer test route. Narrow winding country road, steep downhill slope. At the bottom is a narrow bridge on a blind bend. You have to keep exactly to your side of the road, hard at speed etc as any slight deviation puts you in a position for a head on collision with any traffic whizzing around the corner in the opposite direction.

2. Railway crossing. Due to illegally parked cars outside a business on the other side of the crossing, buses wishing to turn right often get stuck there for some time and no other traffic can get past to go straight on. This is hard to tell from approach, and the yellow box on the railway tracks is hidden by the depression of the tracks. Should an inexperienced driver drive over the lines they run the risk of being trapped on the tracks or having the crossing gates descend on their cars.

3. Hythe station. As you go around the corner a sign warns that the way ahead is for buses and taxis only, all other traffic must go right. The sign is hard to see and there are no additional markings on the road. Also even if the sign is noticed the right turn looks like a tiny minor road, but there is an additional right turn just over the tracks which looks more likely, a mistake a lot of people can make. Any student on test going down there would have their test terminated immediately.

Steve took me on none of these, explained none of these. All of these are on test routes. But then so are the double roundabouts and we only ever approached those from one direction. As is Port Lane turning right onto Hythe Hill, another tricky turn, another one he didn't bother with in 56 hours, but somehow I managed to cover, along with Rowhedge, Wivenhoe and the other 50-60% of Colchester in the 15 hours with Pam, along with competencies in all four manoevres and the emergency stop.

Lazy bastard.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Similar complaints from ReviewCentre

"I spent several months learning with nippers on an automatic. Every lesson, I was simply, told to drive to the test area and back again. Maybe if I was lucky I would do a few manoeuvres. The instructor NEVER went into detail about mirrors, signalling at an appropriate time, reference points or anything I actually needed to know on test. It was VERY clear he was taking advantage of my money. When I booked my test he was EXTREMELY rude about the date I booked however, he must of had a panic because the last few lessons before my test he actually bucked up his teaching technique a little bit.After failing my test, I decided to join another driving school and they were 100% better than the joke in which nippers were.

Please do not go to Nippers, they are completely unprofessional. I wish I never encountered them."


"I had wanted to complete my driving within a year. I had joined Nippers, as I heard they were a good driving school. I had 20 hours. Each week I would have double hour lessons. Every lesson would just be driving everywhere, and not the test area. Over the next few weeks I had got to about my 12th driving lesson and my tutor would say to me, you need to remind me to do manouvres, I reminded them. But my next lesson came I reminded them, but we hadnt done any monouvres or anything, we just drove around. so after spending lots of money and my instructor not being very honest with me, about how many hours i needed before my practical, I chose to go elsewhere and learn from scratch.

That was just me, could be different for someone else. The only good outcome was that I got a feel of diving the car. I just needed my instructor to teach me the basic manouvers early, and been honest with me, and tell me exactly what I am doing wrong"


<Disclaimer: Steve is not explicitly named but the complaints are the same and it boggles my mind that Nippers might have 'franchised' two such individuals. I was also told by him that nippers only had one automatic car which also suggests that these review are about him.> 

My Response to the DSA


Is email sufficient written permission or do I need to send a letter?

If email is sufficient then yes you have my permission. 

I am in the first stages of proceedings against this man as advised by the CItizens Advice Bureau, who have also logged my concerns and provided me with advice. I have also logged a complaint with Nippers. 

I am also aware that others have had similar experiences through an online review site (reviewcentre), and am attempting to track these members down to encourage them to complain also. I have also documented my experiences on there as 'unhappylearner'.

Steve told me himself that he makes 'sure no one complains'.

I do think that is a shame that the 'check test' can be so easily manipulated to cover up instructoral failings and poor quality teaching, he successfully passed a check test recently by carefully selecting the pupil and lesson and as he put it 'pulling out all the stops'.

In the meantime I am starting from scratch with a new instructor who is helping me fill in the gaping holes in my knowledge.

Yours Sincerely,

DSA response

Dear Ms Drew

Thank you for your email of 7 August about the problems you have had with your approved driving instructor (ADI), Steve Eggleton.

The Registrar’s role is to ensure that the standard of instruction provided by ADIs is satisfactory, and the instructor is a ‘fit and proper’ person to remain on the Register.

All ADIs are required to undergo frequent tests of continued ability and fitness to instruct (check test) to ensure their level of instruction is to the standard required by the Registrar. Steve will receive a check test at least once during their period of registration.

The Registrar has the power to remove someone from the Register on the grounds that they are not a ‘fit and proper’ person; however, this is usually only when the instructor has been convicted of an offence (motoring or non-motoring) or after repeated reports of bad practice have been received and investigated.

The standard of instruction you have described is not what we would expect from a driving instructor and so in order to investigate your complaint we do need to obtain comments from the instructor involved.

We will therefore need your written permission to forward a copy of your email to Mr Eggleton.  Once we receive your permission, we will forward your complaint and add a record of this complaint against him on the Register.

If we do not receive a reply from you, we will assume you do not wish to take your complaint further.  However, in line with our standard practice we will keep all correspondence relating to your complaint on file for two years.

Please be aware that Steve is under no obligation to provide us with any comments in reply to your email.  If we do not receive a reply from them, we will make no further contact with you. 

If you feel that Mr Eggleton has broken a contract, you can follow up your complaint through the civil courts and might wish to pursue this matter through a solicitor.

Alternatively, you could seek advice from your local Trading Standards Officer about the best way to proceed.  Trading Standards have the power to investigate your claims and prosecute if necessary.  If the outcome of such action is successful, I should be grateful if you could notify me.

Yours sincerely

Complaint Letter to DSA

I wish to make a complaint about the gentleman above.

As a nervous novice driver I booked an intensive course through Nippers in the middle of May, I was assigned Steve as my instructor and my test was booked for the 4th June. The course was 40 hours in length but after failing my first test I had a further 16 hours with Steve and two further tests on the 26th June and the 9th July. I am wholly dissatisfied with the level of service I received from this instructor, for the reasons below:

That Nippers failed to show the care and skill you would expect from a reputable driving school in providing competent and appropriate instructors. I relied upon them to ensure that the driving instructor they recommended was able to help me reach an acceptable standard.  That they offered an intensive course , which with a complete novice requires a certain type of instructor to develop skills and confidence quickly and this was not provided.  Their failure to ensure this has caused me loss.

That my instructor Steve Eggleton was incompetent and repeatedly put me at risk. That he took payment for services that were not received and encouraged further expenditure of time and money on tests when I was not at the correct standard of ability to pass. That he showed no concern for my welfare or safety. That he was unprofessional, acted dangerously and illegally and used discriminatory language. That he failed to adhere to the majority of the recommendations in the Code of Practice for Approved Driving Instructors.

-       There was excessive repetition of routes and of inappropriate routes for competence, in particular a loop around the main Colchester roundabouts that we did for eight to ten hours of lessons. At least fifty percent of the test routes were never visited at all including Greenstead, Rowhedge, Wivenhoe, Abbey Fields, Highwoods, Prettygate etc, I never got above 40mph on this loop and I never tackled some of the roundabouts from other directions.
-       Excessive time was spent driving to other unneccessary locations. On my first lesson, after just twenty minutes in the car I was told to drive to Clacton and back. In addition Steve told me to drive to London after just 18 hours of lessons, on Saturday 1st June. The trip took 6 hours and during this time I was given no breaks to eat, drink or rest. My requests to stop were fobbed off with ‘in a minute’ and ‘you are doing so well, just a little further’ and I was too exhausted and confused to argue more forcefully. In this instance I consider myself very lucky that my concentration did not lapse on the A12.
-       Steve failed to teach me the basics from steering control to cockpit drill. When I got in the car he checked that I could use indicators and we set off. For the first forty hours I continuously drove with the mirrors set incorrectly, a fact I was unaware of until my husband began taking me out in our own car. My current instructor is still trying to help me to do the Mirror Signal Manoevre drill correctly as even after the third test I was not doing this consistently.
-       I was offered very little feedback or guidance after the first twenty hours when Steve declared me able to pass the test. My concerns were dismissed e.g. After my second test I repeatedly requested more manoevre practice and also more practice in pulling in and moving off but was told that I didn’t need it (I had failed the test on moving off). My mistakes went uncorrected, issues were not remedied despite my repeated requests. I entered all three tests completely unable to reliably bay park or parallel park. I felt like Steve was just going along for the ride and collecting the money and had no interest in developing my skills or competence. When I failed to understand something he did not try any other approaches or explanations. I spent a lot of the time on the internet, desperately trying to fill in the gaps in my knowledge myself.
-       I was unprepared for the tests and wasted time, money and confidence taking them. In addition for each test I paid for two hours with Steve. At least twenty to thirty minutes each time was spent sitting outside the test centre in the car, I received no actual tuition for my money on those days. By contrast my new instructor ensured that I did all four manoevres and an emergency stop before my most recent test.  I also had no idea how to meet oncoming traffic and who had right of way before I started with my new instructor, something my second examiner called ‘dangerous’. This was never addressed or rectified by Steve. I was never advised to cancel or postpone a test, but was encouraged to book the next one as soon as possible.
-       I was not encouraged to look at the road ahead or prompted to look for hazards/issues that might come up on the road ahead.  My knowledge of road signs was never tested. Steve provided all directions and there was no independent driving at all.
-       I was given unhelpful one size fits all ‘guidance’ e.g. left lane for anything before twelve ‘o’ clock, right lane for anything after. This caused me to make a serious fault on my third test coming past B&Q. I was also told if there were cars on both sides of the road I should go to 10mph, 20mph if cars were on my side of the road. I caused serious bunching and annoyance to other drivers on very wide roads with plenty of space for two lines of traffic and parked cars.
-       As well as the 6 hour London trip which had no rest breaks, on two further occasions I drove for longer than I consider safe. On the 29/05/13 I drove for 4.5 hours with just a five minute leg stretch outside the test centre and on the 2/06/13 I drove for 5.5 hours without getting out of the car. These long periods of driving have left me with some continuing damage in my right knee and ankle. Steve discouraged breaks, he told me he preferred to finish early and didn’t like hanging around with nothing to do. I had to mention the pain in my leg three times before I got five minutes outside the test centre to stretch my legs. I was obviously limping but was encouraged to get back into the car and drive on again. I was too timid and nervous to ask again.
-       On one occasion I asked to try a different direction at a roundabout, Steve agreed reluctantly but after a few minutes made it clear that he had no idea where we were or where we were going. I had to rely on my own limited knowledge of the area to get us back to an area that he recognized.
-       Basic safety and legal checks were neglected. My eyesight was not checked until I had driven for four hours. On at least four occasions I was driving whilst Steve was checking his phone and once he called my attention to a text message he had received when my attention should have been on the road ahead.
-       Two dangerous areas were left unexplained and undriven – a narrow bridge on a winding country road on a blind bend (on the test route to Layer) and a railway level crossing. In these two examples the smallest error can be incredibly serious, even when I had the hazard explained to me by a competent instructor I still came close to making a serious error. I count myself very lucky that neither of these two areas appeared on my three tests as I was completely unprepared for them.
-       Paperwork – I received no paperwork and no information about prices, cancellations, complaints, where my money was being held or progress that I was making. I received no booking card or appointment card.
-       Aggression- On several occasions Steve got verbally abusive and aggressive towards other drivers who he considered were driving badly, gesticulating and swearing loudly.  I found this very frightening and intimidating and I was nervous that I would be a target for Steve or one of the motorists he had sworn at.
-       On several occasions Steve referred to homosexuals (and a former pupil of his as such) as ‘poofs’, twice after I had informed him that my mother has a female partner.
-       Steve was regularly five minutes late, if not more. Lessons never finished late and often finished early, even including the debrief at the end.  For the first forty five hours Steve took a toilet break every one to two hours of up to ten minutes.  This time was never mentioned or made up at any point. I believe this amounts to approximately 2-3 hours of tuition over the 56 hours that I missed out on.
-       I was pressured to change my test to Clacton, a town Steve was obviously much more familiar with. I did so, but changed back as soon as I realized that I would be spending 80 minutes of my 120 minute lesson just driving there and back.
-       Not only was the car interior dirty, but Steve regularly appeared unkempt with food stains on his face and clothing.

I was told by Steve after the first lesson that there were no other automatic instructors available and with my test booked and childcare arranged that pushed me into making a decision I ultimately regret- to continue with Steve. As a very nervous and inexperienced driver, exhausted and confused, I allowed myself to be led by my instructor, having no prior or recent experience to compare it to.  I was continually being told what an excellent driver I was, how brilliantly I was driving and with the tests booked so close together I never seemed to have a second to gather my thoughts (I did four tests in two months). I had nothing to compare it to until I began talking to other students and instructors online and in person. It wasn’t until I found a new instructor that I truly realized just how little I had been taught and how substandard my instruction had been. I was also quite intimidated by Steve, he is a big man who I had seen being quite aggressive  and as he knew where I lived I was frightened to complain.

Ironically Steve actually had a check test whilst I was learning to drive with him, which makes a mockery of the whole checking process. He carefully selected the pupil that he would take on the test and in his words ‘pulled out all the stops’. In the meantime I was getting a substandard service and failed to reach test standard with him, something he failed to realize, recognize or rectify.

I have been told that I am not eligible for any sort of refund and am horrified that the DSA don’t have better methods for checking the quality of lessons that are being carried out by registered ADIs.

I have very serious concerns about this man’s competence and ability to help less confident or less experienced learners to pass the test. I don’t believe he has the skills to be offering intensive courses or courses in Colchester at all as he was clearly not familiar with a large part of the town. 

Sarah Drew

Monday, 12 August 2013

Part 4

As I realised how little I had been taught I got angrier and angrier. I spent a lot of money, had been assured that I would get to test standard, had been allowed to take the test when I was patently not ready, had not been prepared or taught in any sort of way and had accepted incompetent instruction in my inexperience.

So after my fourth test I phoned up Nippers and complained. The guy took a few of my complaints, said it was disgusting and someone would be in contact ASAP.

Three days later I phoned up again and at first the guy professed ignorance of my complaint. I was quite persistent and he said he would look into it. Two hours later he phoned back and it was clear that he had  been the one to speak to Steve in the first place. He denied everything, except the London trip which he said was by mutual agreement. I could hear the disbelief in the mans voice as he was talking to me. No chance of a refund and Nippers had no responsibility for anything, I received tuition, that's it. He only dealt with four of my complaints, the rest had got lost along the way. By this point I had had enough and I phoned the CAB next.

The lady gave me a reference number, helped me with the legal phrasing and logged the complaint against the company.

I have written the complaint and it is ready to go. I will send it recorded delivery this week. It includes a demand for a partial refund for services not received.

I revised a copy for the DSA and sent it to them on the 7th of August. I received a reply today, I will post that here tomorrow and deal with the issues raised by it  then.

But basically they test instructors at the beginning of their career, then they get regular 'check tests'. Yes Steve had one of those he passed whilst he was teaching me. He joked about choosing his pupil carefully and 'pulling out all of the stops'. Apparently you can have anyone as your 'pupil', family member, qualified driver, anyone and you get enough warning to be able to prepare the lesson thoroughly. Unless you commit a motoring offence or get enough complaints you can be as shit an instructor as you want, as long as you can subtlety intimidate your pupils, have lots of inexperienced and nervous pupils, or can make them feel sorry for you (that would be Steve then).

I have also had some awesome advice from mumsnet which I will also post on here in case it helps anyone else.

Part 3

By now it was too late to change the date of the test so I kept going with Steve. He made no notes, gave me no paperwork, no booking card, no complaints procedure, no information on cancellations etc. he had no resources, no alternative ways of explaining things to me.

Two more days of 5.5 hours (I was allowed one break on the Monday, lucky me), more loops around Colchester, one more hour in total of manoevre practice.

My test was booked on the Tuesday. Steve turned up the hour before and we drove straight to the test centre (ten minutes away) where we parked on the road outside the centre until my test ( about forty minutes of staring at the centre and discussing which were the horrible examiners). I bay parked, badly and with Steve having to use the dual control brake twice and went in. I was lucky, I got a test route by my house and on Steve's loop. I failed on lane changing. Probably because my left hand wing mirror was pointing towards the car and I was so nervous about all the stuff I just knew I didn't know.

Wailing, gnashing of teeth. Never mind said Steve, book another test as soon as possible, you are a brilliant driver you will pass next time. Test booked 23rd June, major stress, major pressure, more loops of Colchester, more gossip. By this time I was so stressed I could barely think straight.

Failed. On moving off (funny the two times I had done this with Steve wasn't enough) and meeting other cars ('just push on through,'said Steve, 'its a small car'. I had no idea who had right of way and the examiner called me dangerous). Please can I have some more practice on that, I beg, 'sure', 'whoops, I forgot, maybe next time, just remind me' etc. Third test booked, 9th July. 56 hours of tuition in total. Why don't you try Clacton said Steve every lesson. So I tried it for two lessons, but as it took forty minutes to get there and back, a two hour lesson was quickly eaten up. Switched back to Colchester.

Failed again. Went down a road I had never been before (we had only done about forty percent of colchester), obscured speed signs- failed on changes of speed. Also approached a roundabout where the straight on exit was slightly to the right of 12oclock. Steve said any roundabout where the exit was past 12 needed to be taken in the right lane. On this roundabout everyone goes in the left lane to go straight on, so I automatically did that. Then I remembered what Steve had said about being in the right hand lane and switched back. Fail on that roundabout, serious fault.

Plus I got told off for continually going too slowly (if there is one line of parked cars then you need to go at 20mph said Steve, two lines then you need to go at 10mph. Except on wide roads where there is loads of space and everyone else is going at 30mph of course, but that is the bit he failed to mention, even when taking me on those roads, too busy gossiping and bitching about his pupils, including a 'poof' that he had taught a few years back).

My husband then started taking me out in our own car and he was shocked by how little I knew and how dangerous I was. Flustered, easily confused, filled with all those wrong teachings so he started agitating to change instructor.

I found a lovely lady who was happy to teach me in my own car. She turned up with a huge book of laminated roundabouts, paper to take notes, a booking card etc, she constantly offered feedback and explanations to me.  Every lesson I felt like I was learning something and she worked with me to find all the holes in my knowledge and fill them. I already had another test booked and was feeling much more confident after eight hours with her. She helped me get the mirror signal manoevre routine (yep, hadn't been taught that either, explained where I had to look when I was going around roundabouts, helped me stop coming to a complete stop at all give way lines, even if the road ahead was empty.

Part 2

After day three I was very uneasy about my tuition, I felt there was lots I was wasn't being explained, Steve just wanted to chat all of the time and I didn't feel like I was actually learning.

Steve kept telling me how brilliant I was, what a fantastic driver I was and how he was confident that I would pass my test easily. At the end of day three he suggested a drive to London to 'use up some of your hours' as he thought I was test ready after twenty hours. I was confused between what I thought was my skill level and what he was telling me, but he was the instructor so I went with it. He said I was the first pupil good enough to take to London in 6 years, it would be good practice etc.

So on Saturday 1st June we went. Now I look back in horror as there was no way I was ready for this, my mirrors were STILL set incorrectly, the left one was even pointing towards the car rather than the road behind but I had no idea at the time whether it was right or not, after all Steve had driven to my house with the mirrors set like that, it must be ok, right? I was so stressed by the whole process, was confused and more than a bit scared of Steve, he had an aggressive streak and had shouted and gesticulated at other motorists on several occasions.

Anyway we set off on the A12, around Romford and East London, round by the Isle of Dogs, some really tricky driving. After two or three hours I mentioned the pain in my leg to Steve. 'ok, when I see somewhere to stop I will get you to pull in'. An hour of terrifying driving later I mentioned lunch as he hadn't told me to bring any, I had assumed we would be buying some 'yes yes, in a minute, you are doing so well, such a brilliant driver, just lets do this next bit whilst you are on a roll'. Steve had a toilet stop 60 minutes in but told me to stay with the car, other wise we would be wasting too much time.

I asked twice more about a stop, my leg was agony and my knee was cramping up. Twice more I was told later later. To my horror after five hours of driving around London, we got back onto the A12. I was shattered, in pain, visibly pale, starving and thirsty. Steve had also not eaten anything the whole time.

Part 1


Welcome to my blog.

I'm Sarah (not my real name), I live in Colchester and am currently learning to drive. I have created this blog as a place to share my experiences with a particular driving school and  to document my complaint as a record for myself (and anyone else who is interested).

Bit of background first.

I passed my theory test in April 2013 and decided to look at an intensive course as the best way to learn to drive. I had been putting it off and putting it off for ages and at 31 I decided it was finally time to get it out of the way. I have a new university course starting soon, some distance a way and involving some travel, so that gave me the final push to get off my bum and get on with it.

Word of mouth recommendations all went for 'Castle' driving school but they had no free instructors and didn't offer any intensive courses in an automatic. They suggested that Nippers, based in Clacton, might be able to help so I phoned them up and explained what I wanted. I made it clear that I was quite nervous and a complete novice when it came to driving.

The man booked me in with 'Steve' and gave me a start date of the 27th May and a test date of the 4th of June. Two weeks later 'Steve' phoned me and arranged to pick up the cheque from my house. I had been given the option of bringing cash to the first lesson (£771) or he would pick up the cheque. When he arrived I mentioned again that I was very nervous, but he wasn't very reassuring. At this point I should have listened to my gut, but I didn't, I put it down to being nervous about learning to drive.

So, the 27th came around, Steve arrived five minutes late ( he was never early) and I got driven by Steve to a quiet suburb round the corner. I got into the drivers seat and looked at Steve who said 'go on then, start it'. I was surprised as was expecting to have a bit of guidance about driving position, cockpit drill, mirror adjustment etc, but figured he knew what he was doing and started the car. After ten minutes or so tentative driving Steve said 'right, off we go then' and I found myself on a busy single carriageway on the way to Clacton. We ended up forty minutes away in Holland-on Sea. Steve went for a toilet break for five minutes (long running theme, I lost ten minutes a lesson on average to his toilet breaks, which was never made up). And we drove home again. I was shaking and gripping the wheel with a death grip. My shoulders ached from yanking the wheel around (Steve never taught me the push pull technique on the steering wheel). I was then allowed an hours break before it was back in the car. Steve made it very clear that breaks were incredibly inconvenient as he had nothing to do for an hour, which made me feel incredibly guilty.

The next day we had two hours of lessons. Again Steve was late, again we finished early, again I lost ten minutes of my lesson to toilet breaks, none of which was ever made up. Again I was surprised that I was getting very little guidance and feedback, he seemed more interested in chatting and gossiping. He said there was nothing worse than a quiet car and got noticeable uncomfortable if I was concentrating and failing to chat to him. At the end of this session he finally remembered that he hadn't checked my eyesight or my provisional license or theory test certificate. At no point in the forty hours did he check or go over the basics or explain any thing in detail, so my driving position was wrong and my mirrors were not set correctly for the whole time. Any questions I had seemed to irritate him immensely and he made no test of my level of knowledge at any point.

The next two days were 4.5 hours of driving each, in neither case was any sort of break offered or scheduled. We spent our time driving around the very scary roundabouts of Colchester, none of which are standard and all of which have some hideous quirk. We drove in a massive loop, one direction only around the town, around and around. We did a small amount of manoevre practice until Steve got irritated with my inability to grasp how to do it. He didn't try and explain it another way or demonstrate it himself, he refused to offer any reference points or extra mirrors (despite having them on his manual tuition car, he said it would be too much hassle to switch them). I entered my third test STILL unable to parallel park or bay park, as once I had done it once (by fluke) that was it, further practice was almost impossible to squeeze out of Steve.