Matthew Steeples condemns the inept organisation that is the DVLA – its headquarters on strike for months and staff riddled with COVID
Five months ago, I realised that my driving licence – which actually expires in 2051 – comes with a card that turns out requires updating every ten years now needs to be replaced.
Obviously, to deal with this matter I attempted first to telephone the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) headquarters in Swansea, Wales. In spite of them having 6,000 employees, nobody answered and all I got was some bumbling message about coronavirus lockdowns and it being better to go online.
Next, I followed the suggested advice and went to this government agency’s website. I filled in the required information and was quite prepared to pay the £14 fee, but at the final stage I was met with “the computer says no” effectively.
Plainly due to a glitch in this hapless organisation’s system, I was unable to proceed and advised to wait for a ‘live chat’ advisor. I patiently sat and did just such – especially after a message appeared stating not to input anything else for risk of being chucked out – and then after what must have been an hour, it timed out.
I repeated this process on multiple occasions over the coming months, but then discovered that over 500 cases of COVID had been recorded at the DVLA headquarters between September 2020 and April 2021 and in addition found the following statement on their website:
“Ongoing industrial action will directly affect services. There will be delays in processing paper applications. Please do not phone to chase up your application during this time as we are dealing with all paper applications as quickly as possible and in the order in which they are received.”
“Our online services are available and are the quickest and easiest way to deal with us.”
Next, in utter frustration at being unable to deal with this matter and prevented therefore from access to being able to drive a motor vehicle, I went to my local Post Office in Knightsbridge. They advised that they could process the required information for a fee of £21 and that this would take two weeks. I handed over the wonga and did as instructed.
Two months have now passed and nothing has been received. Today, I join the Independent Motor Dealers Association – who have also “slammed the agency for ‘nightmare’ delays” – in condemning this inept and unfit for purpose operation. Frankly, it’s time to privatise this useless organisation or to curb the power of the unions that are simply making the lives of wannabe law abiding motorists hell.
I too for utter months cannot simply process an address change. If another woeful agency of the State prosecutes I shall cite your mentioned lot as partners to the crime. 48% of GDP in real terms snaffled year on year and you get this, some huge early pensions and a PSBR deficit of still squillions.
Have you noticed how Jeanette Miller looks remarkably like Carrie Antionette? Just saying.
Ah. I was going to suggest the Post Office – yes, I too discovered the ’10 year’ thing when my 91 year old father happened to mention it, but found my local PO in Wokingham, Berkshire an absolute delight. They took my photo, filled in the necessary form/s, took the required payment and in less than a week a shiny new card turned up. This was 3 months ago so it seems DVLA have fallen into a state of disrepair since. Finally, Matthew, and it seems importantly so, keep your PO receipt. My licence was ‘expiring’ in a matter of days but I was informed by my PO that the receipt of payment was acceptable proof that I did indeed have a driving licence should the Police, or any other authorititive body, wish to see proof. Best wishes.
The bits that take the money work fine