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.