When you see some of the enticing headlines that are designed to give you peace of mind and draw you in, PLEASE take care check their small print, (if you can find it), to see exactly what’s on offer. You may discover that what you think is provided is very far away from what is actually provided.
For example, one large intensive driving school that we know of advertises 5 day intensive driving courses, promising “Free unlimited retraining if you fail”. Sounds straight-forward, doesn’t it? But in the tiny print of the terms and conditions, buried away in their “Contact us” page, you’ll find this clause, [we’ve added our own comments in blue square brackets]:
REMEMBER: If a deal looks too good to be true, it almost always is.
“MENTORING RETEST PROGRAMME: Should the candidate fail the driving test at the first or any successive attempts after completion of the 5 day course the candidate can enroll onto the retraining programme by submitting the Driving Test Report form (DL25) given to him/her after their driving test. [This seems a bit of a chore, but the need for this become clear when you read on …..] The candidate must do this within 7 days of failing. [So, if you don’t comply within 7 days, then according to these Ts and Cs, you lose your right to “Free Unlimited Retraining”.] Free remedial help to correct the errors identified as serious or dangerous by the examiner and as marked on the DL25 will be offered from the training centre, [Note that the “Free unlimited retraining” only applies to serious or dangerous faults as marked under the specific headings you failed on] until either the candidate is happy to reapply for another test and / or the Mentoring instructor is satisfied that sufficient progress has been made and the errors fully corrected. [This means that it is the Mentoring instructor who can decide when the “Free Unlimited Retraining” is to finish.] To avail yourself of this offer you must have attended the course in full. [If you finish the course early for any reason, and you’ll be giving up the right to expect “Free Unlimited Retraining”.]”
Now, don’t get us wrong. Every driving school, including ours, needs to have a robust and clear set of terms and conditions to protect themselves, especially when things happen outside of its control, such as the DSA cancelling a test at the last minute because of examiner sickness, or whatever. But the clause described above in our opinion completely sterilises their “Free Unlimited Retraining” headline and to place this restriction in tiny print, rather than giving it due prominence with the headline offer, we believe that to most people, this is misleading and deceitful.
So, “Buyer Beware”: Seek out what a headline offer really means, rather than accepting it on face value because it’s what you want to hear. Look for transparency, and make an informed choice.
Here are a few tips:
1. WORK OUT THE EXACT NUMBER OF IN-CAR TUITION HOURS YOU’LL BE GETTING
If you’re buying a “5 day course”, how many actual driving-lesson-hours does that translate into? Is that enough for your specific needs, (or even too much)? If a promised “40 hour course over 5 days” is actually 20 hours driving in a car and 20 hours in a classroom, is that REALLY what you want? Most people are able to pass their theory tests themselves with just a little online help from sites such as FreeTheoryTestsOnline.co.uk. And if you then work out the hourly rate being charged for the in-car driving lessons, you may have a shock.
2. DON’T TAKE THINGS ON FACE VALUE; READ THE SCHOOL’S TERMS AND CONDITIONS
Whilst it’s generally true that intensive courses are a little more specialised than standard lessons, and will usually therefore be more expensive, don’t be misled by tempting offers that make extravagant promises. Driving schools are legally required to display their Ts and Cs on their website, so ask yourself how easy do they make it for you to find out exactly what their rules are when you buy from them? And how easy are they to understand? Whilst every business will want to protect itself and avoid misunderstandings with their customers, are the terms and conditions fair and reasonable to both sides? Do their Ts and Cs reflect what you understood from the headlines on their website?
3. USE YOUR COMMON SENSE
No-body can guarantee anything, especially that you’re going to pass your driving test, so view such words with great suspicion. And no-body can offer a genuinely unlimited amount of additional lessons if you fail; they’d be out of business in a heartbeat. When you find out what the “catch” is, ask yourself whether you want to do business with a trader that employs such tactics, and even if you think their offer is good, work out whether you’re being charged an inflated price for driving lessons in the first place to cover any headline offer you may actually be able to claim.