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.