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  1. A motorist has hit out at Asda after she was 'charged' £99 before she filled her car up with fuel. Jade Louise claims she was debited £99 on top of her £5 petrol transaction at an Asda in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire and says there were no signs warning customers about the fee. MasterCard said the charge was introduced at automated fuel pumps so that customers didn't fill up with more fuel than they could afford - but says no money will be taken from their accounts. However Jade claims she was left out of pocket for three days. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5703487/Customers-slam-Asda-charging-motorists-99-deposit.html?ito=social-facebook
  2. Experienced motorists are being wrongly stripped of their entitlements, then find themselves unable to prove they ever passed their tests because the agency has deleted its records We've had these complaints on here. I've posted this article in full in case it disappears from the newspaper: For the past four months Shane Rae has been living under the threat of having his driving licence taken away – yet he has committed no offence and his 30-year driving record is unblemished. He has even been forced to retake his driving test and take on a solicitor to fight his cause. And the reason for all this? Rae, 45, moved house and sent his licence to the DVLA to amend his address. It was returned minus his entitlement to ride a motorcycle – and when he complained he was warned that his car licence would be revoked as well because the government agency had no record of his qualification to ride a motorbike or drive a car. Rae is one of hundreds of motorists who have found themselves stranded after sending their licence to the DVLA to have it amended, only to be confronted with a demand that they provide proof that they passed their test, even if they took it decades ago. He says the whole experience has left him feeling like a character in a Kafka novel – and adds that even the clout of the prime minister, who happens to be his local MP, hasn’t succeeded in getting the department to see sense. The DVLA is already in the doghouse with many motorists after a new online system that affects people hiring a car was plagued by technical hitches earlier this month, and the emergence of this latest problem will only add to the pressure on the agency. Rae told Guardian Money that he exchanged his Canadian licence for a full UK one in 2000 after submitting all the required evidence from the Canadian authorities, “and since then I haven’t incurred so much as a parking ticket”. He adds: “When I complained about the missing motorcycle entitlement the DVLA told me it destroys supporting documentation for applications after 10 years and that it could therefore find no proof that I was ever entitled to drive, despite in a separate letter confirming that it had scrutinised my documents when amending my licence in 2004. “I was told I would have to request evidence of my entitlements from the Canadian authorities – yet in the same breath the DVLA admits that Canadian driving records are destroyed if they remain dormant for more than 10 years.” It turns out that Rae is far from alone. Paul Chapman, who runs a motorcycle training school, was one of the first to realise something was amiss after receiving dozens of calls from motorcyclists who’d had their entitlements removed after updating their licence. “I’ve had couriers and HGV drivers come to me who have lost their jobs because of this, and 50-year-old bikers who have had a licence for 20 years until they applied to update it,” he says. In its response to a freedom of information request submitted by Chapman, the DVLA insists it retains all driving entitlements on computer and microfiche, and destroys only the licence applications after a 10-year period. The trouble is, it is the also-destroyed supporting documents provided alongside these applications that the DVLA insists on viewing when querying the validity of long-held licences – and the onus is on the motorist to provide them. Chapman says: “I have had to create cheap, quick ways for these guys to take their test again in order to apply for a new licence, but you’re still looking at around £600. The DVLA’s attitude is that it never makes mistakes, and that if a driving entitlement drops off your licence it is up to you to prove that you ever took a test, when it is its job to store all that information. It’s almost worth getting a speeding fine every three years so that the police have a record of your licence.” In the case of Rae, who works in publishing and lives in Oxfordshire, he has spent well in excess of £1,000 on retests and legal fees. His solicitor persuaded the DVLA to delay revoking his licence, which could have jeopardised his job, until he could retake his test. “The DVLA was in effect saying it was happy for me to carry on driving, even though it insists I don’t have a valid licence,” he says. However, he then discovered that possessing a full licence disqualified him from taking a driving test. “The DVLA confirmed there is no way for me to take the test again unless it takes away my licence, so it has revoked it again for its computer system to then allow me to book a new test to replace the documents it admits it has seen but since destroyed,” he says. Rae adds that David Cameron has written to the agency on his behalf three times, “which as far as his office is concerned is unprecedented”. There are fears the problems will worsen now the paper part of the licence has been abolished, along with tax discs, leaving motorists at the mercy of the agency’s digital records. The DVLA has an online service that allows people to view their driving record – for example, vehicles they can drive and any penalty points and disqualifications – but this does not include historical information about previous entitlements, so it will be no use to those who are suddenly required to produce evidence of decades-old qualifications in order to keep their licence. Another driver caught up in this is Steve Sylvester, 51, who lives in Derby and held an HGV licence and a motorcycle entitlement until he sent his paper licence to be swapped for a photocard in April. He was reissued with a provisional car licence. It is almost worth getting a speeding fine every three years so that the police have a record of your licence “I have held a full licence for 25 years and, as I worked as a security driver for Barclays, it had to be vetted by the police, who found no problem with it,” he says. “I sent the DVLA the make and model of the car I took my test in, as well as the name of the instructor and the driving school, but they demanded the test certificate that I sent them 35 years ago. My job was on the line because I need to be able to drive, so I had to pay £200 to take my driving test again and apply for a new licence.” Meanwhile, it was a speeding fine that alerted Dave Knox, a 64-year-old teacher from Merseyside, to the fact his motorcycle entitlement had been omitted from a replacement licence. “I passed my test in 1972, but had to apply for a replacement licence when I lost the original on holiday,” he says. “A few years later I got pulled for speeding and the police confiscated my bike because it turned out the replacement licence didn’t include my motorcycle entitlement. When I complained to the DVLA, it told me I’d never passed my test.” Knox received a court summons for riding a motorbike while unqualified, but his driving record provided by the DVLA was so full of errors – “it even suggested I’d had three licence changes in one day, which is an impossibility” – that the court ruled in his favour and his motorcycle entitlement was restored. “I got no compensation for being unable to ride my bike to work for six months, or for the £150 I had to spend insuring someone else to ride it from the police compound,” he says. The DVLA told Money that it cannot issue licences in “good faith” alone. It declines to discuss individual circumstances, but says that in Rae’s case information came to light from Canada that cast doubt on his entitlement to drive. This information, according to the DVLA’s letters to Rae, is the fact that Canadian driving records are destroyed after 10 years of dormancy, so it can’t re-examine his certificate which allowed it to issue his UK licence in the first place. The agency says it never removes valid entitlements and that rare errors are quickly corrected by checking its computer records. In 2010 it estimated that 2% of drivers’ records contained errors that were the fault of the DVLA, and between 2008 and 2010 it received 285 complaints that entitlements had gone missing. These figures are the most recent it has published. The problem for motorists who reach an impasse with the agency’s customer services is that it is difficult to lodge a complaint with an independent third party. The DVLA can refer unresolved complaints to the Department for Transport’s independent complaints assessor (ICA), but motorists can’t apply for mediation directly, and the ICA only dealt with 93 DVLA complaints between 2013 and 2014. The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman also looks at complaints, but unhappy drivers have to ask their MP to contact the service on their behalf – which doubtless explains why the ombudsman has only taken on 14 complaints about the DVLA in the past 12 months. That is up from two in 2013, and a solitary investigation in 2012. The ombudsman itself is dissatisfied with the system. “It’s very difficult for consumers to complain,” a spokesperson says. “We receive a lot of inquiries from people unhappy with their experience with the DVLA, but the vast majority haven’t approached us via their MP, so we have to redirect them, which whittles the numbers down a lot. We’ve been campaigning for years to make the process easier, and welcome the government’s proposals for a single public service ombudsman.”
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