Can someone hold my hand and keep me strong please, just made a complaint about someone

(89 Posts)
ZombiesAteMyBigToe Thu 25-Jul-13 10:47:05

Just had terrible driving instructor, really bad service, endangered me, didn't give good value tuition. Wasted a fortune on this guy's service.

Today I decided to do something about it and complained to his company.

They are going to phone me back soon and I am feeling very weepy and weak which is pathetic, I don't want to cry, I want to get some of my money back at least. This is my first proper complaint ever, I am usually too terrified to do anything about it, but the sharp intakes of breath when I tell people what he did have finally convinced me to do this.

I could do with a big mumsnet kick up the arse. Or a hug. I dont know which.

EweHaveGoatToBeKiddin Thu 25-Jul-13 10:49:20

Well done!

You know deep down this was the right thing to do.

I wish i had your guts, seriously.

My first driving lesson was with a little old man who decided to take me onto a dual carriageway (yes, my first ever lesson) and began to read his newspaper and just left me to it.

I was too chicken to complain. I paid him, thanked him, then found someone else.

Again - well done!

Forgetfulmog Thu 25-Jul-13 10:49:52

What happened op? Do you want to talk about it?

Good for you for standing up for yourself & complaining though thanks

I'll give you a friendly punch on the arm. Stay polite, and firm. It's easier over the phone than in person. Explain your complaint clearly, and tell them what you'd like them to do about it. Good luck <punch>

Have a ((hug))

You have done the right thing.

MadBusLady Thu 25-Jul-13 10:57:46

You're doing the right thing. It helps to have a written script for difficult calls, even a very basic "Say hello, say I am calling cos of x". Have you got a very factual list of things he did with rough dates ready to go? Or have you already done that bit?

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Thu 25-Jul-13 10:57:55

Thanks everyone.

<rubs arm>

The brief version (complaint is five pages long and I was concise)

-He checked his phone whilst I was driving.
-Within twenty minutes of getting in the car I was driving forty minutes on dual carriageway/winding roads etc
-He didn't teach me cockpit drill, mirror, signal, manoevre, how to meet other cars, how to move off. He refused to practice manoevres once I had got it right once.
-He didn't take me on 50-60% of the test routes, including some tricky and dangerous areas where a mistake is incredibly serious.
-After only 18 hours of tuition he decided I should drive to London (I live an hour away). He scheduled no breaks so I drove for 6 hours on the A12 and all round Mile End/Romford with no food/water/toilet/leg stretching breaks. When I asked to stop he said 'in a minute' but we never did. I also drove for 4.5 and 5.5 hours at other times.
-He was aggressive and abusive to other drivers
-He referred to homosexuals as 'poofs' regularly.
-He gossiped about the home life and mocked the mistakes of other pupils
-He was late for every lesson, up to fifteen minutes and we had one ten minute break for him to use the toilet every lesson. This time was never made up.
-Four to six hours of lessons was just driving in the same loop in the same direction around our town, round and round the roundabouts.

Forgetfulmog Thu 25-Jul-13 10:59:17

Fuck, that's really bad. Definitely complain

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Thu 25-Jul-13 11:00:37

Correction- within twenty minutes of getting in the car for the first time, before even testing my eyes, and knowing I was a complete novice who had never sat in the drivers seat before, he had me driving forty minutes away on busy and difficult roads.

MadBusLady Thu 25-Jul-13 11:01:24


Wow, I'm amazed no-one has complained before! He sounds intimidating, maybe that's why.

You have been brilliant! It's excellent really that he works for a big company. Is it the one that has the first letter of the alphabet in it twice by any chance? If so, I had a bad experience with a driving instructor from there 10 years ago - put me off driving for another 9 years. It's really important. Well done.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Thu 25-Jul-13 11:04:22

He is. Obese bald man from East London, talking about all his friends who were in prison.

I have now had eight hours with another instructor who is gradually correcting my mistakes, but I had no idea it was so bad until I started telling her about it. I didn't really have much to compare it too, everyone I know learned to drive ten plus years ago.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Thu 25-Jul-13 11:06:29

No its a relatively large but local firm. Its based in the next big town over, so I don't think he was as familiar with our town but was just happy to take my money and keep taking it. He did keep trying to persuade me to take my test there instead but I would have spent 80 minutes of every two hour lesson just driving there and back.

NatashaBee Thu 25-Jul-13 11:09:01

YANBU. He sounds terrible. I hope they take your complaint seriously.

fuzzywuzzy Thu 25-Jul-13 11:10:40

Oh you poor thing. A friend had someone drive into her during a lesson and her driving instructor tried to charge her for it! She would have paid had she had the money on her, she was so frightened and confused, we stopped her.

There are some chancers out there, it's toguh finding an instructor who is good.

It's 17 years since I had lessons (oh god I'm so old!) My very first lesson the instructor (one man set-up) took me over a major motorway junction at rush hour - I barely knew how to change gear!

I then went with a national company. All was good. The instructor was so friendly and eager to accommodate me if I needed picking up from work (20 miles away). I told him my parents were going on holiday, he told me to call him if I needed anything (i was 18) He was always asking about boyfriends - did I have one.

Gradually I started to become uncomfortable with him but wasn't sure why - he was such a.nice.bloke after all. I started to dress scruffy for lessons, cancelled a few, had a few panic attacks. I didn't know what was wrong with me.

The final straw was when he gently held my hand on the gear stick and smiled sweetly - I was petrified. I was a very sheltered 18 and he was in his 40's.

I never said anything to my parents, I thought I must have led him on. I changed instructor and he was fab, passed first time.

Not long after my experience there was a big hoo-ha in the media about driving instructors behaving inappropriately with learners. One of the girls interviewed (possibly on Panorama...?) described how she had started to dress scruffy during lessons to try and put the instructor off her. I was shock watching the tv.

Good on you for complaining, I wish I'd have spoken up but was convinced it was something I'd done.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Thu 25-Jul-13 11:25:15

No phone call back yet.

Oh and he also did no independent driving practice. At all.

I am just so so cross that he put me in for tests when I wasn't good enough, my confidence has taken such a battering as well as my wallet. I have another one coming up and I am so so nervous, a million times more than I was before because I have failed several times before.

HotSoupDumpling Thu 25-Jul-13 11:28:45

Good on you. What you're doing is a massive favour for 1) the company and 2) any potential future students of his. Remember that when you're complaining - you are doing them a favour. Their reputation will be much improved in the long run.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Thu 25-Jul-13 11:36:26

God I feel sick.
Its only been an hour since I phoned.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Thu 25-Jul-13 14:52:13

Its been about four hours and I haven't heard anything yet.

I was told they would get back to me today but the man did say that they had to speak to him first.

Its pathetic, I'm 31 FFS and I'm shaking like a leaf. I managed to eat something but its sitting like concrete in my stomach.

Adding up how much I spent on lessons comes to a shocking amount. I've decided to ask for at least a third of the money I spent back, does that sound about right?

JohFlow Thu 25-Jul-13 14:58:41

The complaint is out of your hands for the time being - so take a bit of time to yourself. You can deal with the response when it comes in. You had a right to complain for sure.

Ask for a high percentage of your money back. They can always negotiate you back. But you are more likely to get more than a third if you start high.

Good Luck

devilcakes Thu 25-Jul-13 15:04:24

Why did you not leave after the first lesson?

hesterton Thu 25-Jul-13 15:06:38

Yes, be clear about what you want. Stick to the facts and persist.

The instructor will be self employed. He will br paying the company he 'works for' to work for them.

They may (and should be sympathetic). At the end of the day they are unlikely to reprimand him in any way. He doesn't actually work for them. They work fot him. I do hope for your sake they think about their company name and reputation. I also hope you get some of your money back but in many ways that (believe it or not) is not the companies responsibility. That money will have gone directly into your instructors bank account. You can certainly pressure them though, and they will have the capacity to offer you a discretionary financial reimbursement.

You could and should complain to the DRIVING STANDARDS AGENCY (DSA). These are the people that allow this instructor to work, and could potentially remove his license. They may need his ADI number which you should find on you test reports. 'Threatening' to report to the DSA could be used when talking to hiz compsny.

Good luck. It is worth fighting and there is more than one angle to take.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Thu 25-Jul-13 15:09:25

You've done completely the right things flowers. I hope your complaints are taken seriously and that you get some form of refund.

Here is the info you need to complain to the DSA. Looking at this trading standards may also be interested (whichay carrymore weight with the company he works for)

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Thu 25-Jul-13 15:16:39

I knew someone would ask that devilcakes

1)I paid upfront for a 40 hour course over 8 days and changing instructor would have meant postponing my test or losing the £60. The London trip happened four days before the test (ie too late to change the test date) and he kept telling me how I was his best and bravest pupil ever, how I was fantastic etc etc. Subsequent tests were always booked for two weeks after the last one so I never really got the chance to stop and collect my thoughts.
2)I had no idea what was normal or not, its only with the second instructor that I realised just how little he was teaching me. I didn't think he would keep putting me in for tests if he didn't think I was competent.
3)He was really quite intimidating
4)I was shattered 90% of the time and I still have a deadline to pass my test of the end of September which made me want to get the whole thing out of the way.
5) I'm a coward

Thank you for the information on Trading Standards and the DSA. I'm definitely going to take it further with them once I have heard back from the company.

devilcakes Thu 25-Jul-13 17:54:39

Ah so it was a type of crash course, hope you get your money back. That's awful what he did to you.
Didn't mean it in a horrible way, just curious!

mayaswell Thu 25-Jul-13 18:04:07

You've done a very good thing. You should feel very angry, he's taken your money and given you nothing in return.

Rooners Thu 25-Jul-13 18:21:17

I had a bad instructoor when I began, when I was about 18 but he was an old git and is probably dead by now - also he worked for himself, his own company.

He would make sleazy remarks and put his hand on mine, and on my thigh, and sit there saying 'come on, you like it don't you!' as I flinched.

I stopped and made some excuse after about 3 lessons. I never said anything to anyone about him and years later when I called to report him, it was way too late, no evidence etc. But I wanted to add my voice if anyone else had complained.

I think he knew why I stopped. Old bastard.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Thu 25-Jul-13 18:31:29

That's ok devilcakes, that was one of the questions I was dreading being asked by them, along with 'why didn't you complain sooner?', so it was sort of a sore spot.

Rooners, that's awful. So sorry you had to go through that, I have heard similar stories.

There are some really bad instructors out there, I think I have a good one now - we have done more reversing practice in 8 hours than I did with him in 56!

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Thu 25-Jul-13 18:35:02

Bloody ipad posting too soon.

Rooners it's such a shame he never got his comeuppance, but I know how hard it is to report these things, there is such a power imbalance between instructor and pupil and often it boils down to he said she said stuff, which is why more people don't complain. I don't have any evidence other than my calendar where I listed driving hours and locations.

NotDead Thu 25-Jul-13 18:45:06

I saw a fat old ugly driving insructor with a young female learner..obvious learner.. and he had cranked upthe stereo and was doing air drumming like a twat.

we made eye contact and he paused..then carried on! if the lights hhadn't turned to green I'd have had a word... but to my shame I forgot to take the reg no.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Thu 25-Jul-13 19:47:43

shock NotDead

fat, old and ugly describes my bad instructor too

so does utter cunting wanker

So no call and I have relaxed a bit. If they don't call by Monday I'll try again. Not going to let this drop.

mayaswell Thu 25-Jul-13 20:39:17

My first instructor was rubbish, I didn't learn anything, my Dad took me out and was really angry I didn't even know the basics, so he found a different one for me who was just horrible, used to make suggestive remarks, but I was too naive and weak to do anything about it. I failed my test and gave up, I had zero confidence.
I passed my test when I was thirty, with a lovely lovely man.
All those years of relying on other people and some difficult expensive journeys because of two dickheads and my lack of gumption.

I sincerely hope you get your money back.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Thu 25-Jul-13 21:11:07

That's terrible mayaswell!

There are so many bad instructors out there and it's so hard to find a good one. I thought I was playing it safe by going with a largish firm but not a national one like BSM or AA.

I found my new instructor completely by chance on a list of instructors on Yell. She is an independent, has a crappy one page website and hardly any work, but she is patient, she listens and she explains things. She has also never made me feel stupid and has fabulous resources (every roundabout in the town printed out, laminated and explained before I tackled it). I had a little weep when I finally cracked bay parking with her, my previous guy said just reverse on full lock and then pull forward to correct. No reference points, no explanations, no instruction on mirrors etc. just reverse and cross your fingers.

Now I can bay park first time every time. She is also happy to teach lessons with my toddler in the car and she was also happy to teach me in my own car.

I'd happily recommend her to anyone, but everyone I know already knows how to drive, so I don't know how to reach new learners who are typing 'learn to drive in X' into google.

My xp is a driving instructor.

He has worked for a large regional school, a small local independent school and now as an independent sole trader.

I hope I gave you insight into how driving schools work earlier.

I'm busy with dcs at the moment, but I am happy to come back with some possible come backs (based on my insight on how they work) if it will help..

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Thu 25-Jul-13 22:18:48

Yes please edwinia, I would be really really grateful for your help.

Any advice, tips, things to say, anything would be really great.

I couldn't find much on the internet about making this sort of complaint.

Forgot to mention I was a night owl!

As I said before there is a bit of a grey area as to who might be responsible for the service provided and any financial reimbursement. To reiterate, IME the roles and set ups with small to large companies are as follows.

The company provide someone to answer the phone
The company provide paperwork. Booking cards etc.
The company provide the sevice of introducing pupils to instructors.

The instructor (almost certainly self employed) pay a weekly fee to the company for the above services.
The instructor will be responsible for prividing the tuition.
The instructor recieves all of the monies you pay him (ie you are paying the instructor not the company....which creates the grey area).

Hopefully this will help you understand some of the arguments you may face, helping you to be successful.

Your instructor has shown some horrific behavious and service. You are absolutely right to complain. I will make some statements below. I am not accusing you in the slightest. I am trying to play devils advocate and use that to suggest suitable responses for you to use. I have used info in your posts but you may need to adapt some to scenarios. Feel free to ask for clarification and PM me if necessary.

Why have you only complained after 40hrs?
You already have some great responses yourself in a previous post. I would emphasise that those 40hrs were taken over a VERY short space of time (less than 2 weeks?) and with the intensity of the lessons you found it difficult to reflect, pinpoint concerns earlier. You blamed yourself for being incompetent and needing to repeat the same route so often. It is only since new instructor you have recognised that the service provided and behaviour was very poor.

They may use the excuse that traffic meant he was late. Your response would be that he needs to manage his diary better given that he was consistently late. Work out exactly how much time you think you missed, that shoukd be your absolute rock bottom reimbursement. If you can categorically tell them that you have missed 3 1/2 hours of tuition you have paid for...that is a service that hasn't been provided. They may try and argue that he may have dropped you off 5 mins late occassionally to compensate. Stand your ground.

They may argue that a 10min break is normal - its not. Sure hr may need a loo stop occassionally but not EVERY lesson. They may argue that even after you think the lesson is finished the verbal debrief/recap is still part of the lesson. I know this isva different issue but is a standard response to short lessons designed to distract you.. Stand your ground. If he wasn't in the car because he was late or in the loo that couldn't possibly form part of the 40hrs you have paid for.

Why do you want to be refunded for more that 3 1/2 hours (based on the lateness examplr above)?
Because one expectations the DSA have from instructors is that they will allow pupils to learn EFFICIENTLY. I feel that repetition of routes, excessive time spent driving to unnecessary destinations, failure to teach ghe basics (eg MSM) and time and money that I spent on x tests was clearly wasted when I was not properly prepared and your instructor should have been competent enough to advise me to cancel the booked test and/or not encouraged me to rebook so soon. Once again you could work out how much you have spent on your tests including the cost of the driving lesson to hire the car.

They may try and deflect responsibility to the instructor (due to self employed scenario). In this case you could add a complaint about the services they provide. You expect them to work with/put you in contact with a reputable instructor and you feel they have failed on this point. Who did you actually pay? Presume you paid by cheque or card to the company if it was a block booking. This will have gone straight to the instructor (but you dont know that wink) so try and argue that you made payment to the company for a service which has been unacceptable.

Some more questions to think about which might add to your argument.
Am I right in thinking that your instructor wasn't really local to you? Why did they place you with that instructor?
Why did you need to travel to London? Was there any value in advancing the skills necessary to pass test? If not...there's another complaint. Sounds like the instructor just wanted to get you onto familiar territory. Sounds like he wasn't flexible enough to teach you outside the area he knew (same possibly with the repeated loop)

They may try and offer you further lessons with another instructor instead of financial reimbursement. Be prepared for that.

I would try and divide your complaint into 3 parts. If you get to the end without a satisfactory conclusion then I would state that you will be making 3 complaints to the trading standards agency and the dsa with respect to the services provided by NAME OF COMPANY and NAME OF INSTRUCTOR and BEHAVIOUR of company.

Hopefully that will show them that you know your rights and may cause them to settle for fear of being reported.

1. Service provided by the company.
They have not put you into contact with a competent instructor.
Complain yo trading standards about the COMPANY

2. Service provided by the instructor
Competence of the instructor (repeated loops. Inappropriate routes for competence. Relevance to test. Safety & legal checks - him using phone, checking eyesight, your provisional etc), poor advice regarding test readiness- wasted money on actual test and hire of vehicle costs. They may argue pre-booked. You then argue that at no point were you advised to cancel test. Also why were you pressured to rebook test for 2 weeks time if you weren't ready? Shortened lessons
These complaints should be taken to trading standards and I would make it a joint complaint against the company and instructor.

3) complain about the instructors behaviour
Offensiveness against others etc.
These complaints should be made to the DSA about yhe instructor.

I hope that is useful. Some was already on the thread. Good luck. Let us know how you go. Feel free to ask for any other clarification.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Fri 26-Jul-13 08:04:11


Thank you so much for taking the time to write that out. That is so incredibly helpful!

I might have to answer in stages as I am on the ipad so can't see your post when I am writing this.

I have a few initial questions-

Should I contact the instructor at all?

I didn't get any paperwork at all, no complaints procedure, no booking card, no list of fees, no progression sheet, nothing. Is this also something I should bring up or is this just something that differs from company to company?

He used to pick me up before a test and we would spend 30 minutes waiting outside the test centre, sitting in the car. My current instructor treats the hour before the test like a lesson, but I'm not sure if its right to claim for those wasted hours as well, because I was with him in the car, even though we weren't driving.


The course was 40 hours over 8 days, with the test in the afternoon of the 8th so not much driving on that day. The course started on the 27th of May and between now and then I was encouraged to book and take four tests, all of which I failed. I did 16 additional hours with him spread out between those tests, the last one was two weeks ago. I've lost over a stone since the end of May due to stress and nerves.

Will reread your post now and see if there is anything I have missed.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Fri 26-Jul-13 08:12:53

The company sent the instructor out to pick up the cheque the week before the course started. I don't know what happened to the money after that.

PenguinBear Fri 26-Jul-13 08:22:54

Hope things get sorted soon for you op smile

Can you remember to whom the cheque was made out? Was it to the company or the instructor? If it was to the company then remind them that you paid them for the service if they try to argue the self employed driver excuse. Effectively they sub contracted to the instructor but they are required to sub contract to an appropriate competent individual.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Fri 26-Jul-13 08:28:10

He took me to London because I mentioned that I was starting university there in September. He said he was from that neck of the woods and he would take me. He told me I was good enough to pass the test already so we would do this to use up some hours.

It was terrifying because I had to keep changing lane on the dual carriageway and all my mirrors were set wrong (no cockpit drill so I had no idea how they were supposed to go). Doing the drive back very hungry and tired after no break was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. I could barely walk after getting out of the car and my knee and ankle are still crampy and sore even now.

At the risk of making myself more identifiable the town I live in is colchester, which has a reputation for trickiness (lots of double roundabouts, a set of ring roundabouts, lots of little country lanes, plenty of dual carriageways, one way system etc). It's very busy most of the time, so there was no need in my opinion to take me on the London trip.

He works mostly in clacton which is forty minutes away and is here he took me on my first ever lesson.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Fri 26-Jul-13 08:30:01

Chaz I think it was made out to the instructor unfortunately.

That's ok. You just need to have a response prepared to deal with that. The company have failed to show the care and skill you would expect from a reputable driving school in providing competent driving instructors. You have relied on them to ensure that the driving instructors they represent reach an acceptable standard. They have failed to ensure the instructor was of an adequate standard and that failure has caused you loss.

Stropzilla Fri 26-Jul-13 08:51:55

Quite right to stand your ground. My instructor 15 years ago shouted at me, tried to trick me and put me off, used the break his side to screw with me among other things. I gave up and never passed my test sad . I'm now 34 and just started again! I'm with a brilliant teacher who has made me see in not a bad driver. I wish I had complained at time so go you!

nobeer Fri 26-Jul-13 09:11:36

Wow this is horrific. He sounds like a right scumbag. Just a quick message to wish you luck with your complaint, and passing your test of course.

On the subject of your new instructor, once you finished your course with her (and you've passed your test!), why don't you tell her how great you think she's been and tell her to improve her website or set up a facebook page for marketing purposes. You can then share that with friends, family, friends of friends etc. After all, they say the best advertising is word of mouth and personal recommendation.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Fri 26-Jul-13 09:30:32

Thank you Chaz. I have written down everything so its altogether in one place, including most of your last post!

Nobeer, thanks for the good luck wishes. I definitely want to help out my current instructor. Her books are criminally empty because she has no idea how to market herself. Pam Sinclair in case anyone out there is reading this and on the look out for a good one. Dedicated, conscientious and kind, well prepared and flexible. She has also been driving in colchester as an instructor since 1993.

Stropzilla, sounds like you got unlucky like me. Utterly frustrating that there is no way to find the good ones early on and to filter out the terrible ones.

Just a quickie cos I need to get breakfast.

A lot of my questions were to make you think about what they might ask, or to give you a chance to think about answers before they challenge you IYSWIM so don't worry if you can't remember.

Don't worry too much about who cheque was payable to etc. If I hadn't told you you probably wouldn't know that he is effectively self employed iYSWIM. I have told you all that before they do so you can get ready to respond. At this point your argument is with the company. Be prepared for them to fob you off. If they do you can still argue about the service they have provided. Of course they may take everything on board without too much hassle etc. You never know. They may have a range of policies the instructor may ve supposed to meet so may actually be interested from that POV.

I wouldn't contact the instructor. Deal with the company and take it from there.

WRT paperwork. You would normally get a booking card. On that booking card would be a brief statement saying cancellations 48hrs notice. Instructor allowed to cancel at shorter notice for weather/breakdown. Instructor reserves the right to remove access to tge vehicle for the test if you are not ready. So terms of business aren't necessarily pages of terms but there is usually something. By having nothing, if the company say "but your contract was with instructor not us" you can say "what contract?" iYSWIM

The DSA do encourage instructors to use progression sheets but a lot don't tbh because they are a faff and they do waste time when you could be driving. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as you are actually progressing, and that there is evidence of that in your skills.

Test procedure obviously varies. Round here a 2hr lesson would be booked for the test. The first 50-60 mins would essentially be a normal lesson. You would then drive to the test centre to be there in good time for your test (5-10mins). The second hour if your lesson would be your actual test, where you are effectively paying to hire the car. I woukd argue that if you weren't ready for your test you wouldn't have paid for any of that test/pre test time, instead you would have used that time developing your skills (or not!)

No excuse for taking you to London. No excuse for taking you to Clacton. He is lazy and couldn't be bothered to find good locations to teach you to pull off, do the basic maneuvers etc. He took you to Clacton so that he could take you to the places he always uses. There is no need to take you that far outside the area covered by the test centre you are using. It is a waste of lesson time to get there and back when there are roundabouts/junctions etc. that will be suitable in your home town if he could be bothered to find them (even if you are driving there and back).

The DSA do encourage instructors to use a voluntary code of conduct. I will link to that in a mo. It is voluntary, but should give you an idea of the minimum standards the DSA expects. Might be worth printing so you can refer to it and your instructors failures if and when they ring.

Oh and you might have noticed my deliberate typo ladt night. The complaint to the DSA would be about the INSTRUCTORS behaviour not the companies.

Having thought about it overnight I would send the same complaint with everything to both trading standards and DSA so they can both see the bigger picture, but I would structure it with the 3 areas of complaint.

You have seen the light. You sound like you have a fab instructor now. Good luck with lessons and complaint.

Voluntary code of practice:

As for advertising. Ask your instructor if she has a fb page you can link. Do you have one of those 'spotted clacton' style fb pages that keep cropping up.

She may subscribe to many online driving instructor directories where you can leave a review. As said previously many rely on word of mouth.

(Her diary may be empty because she chooses to work part time)

Andro Fri 26-Jul-13 10:34:21

I'll add my voice to the advice to contact the DSA.

When I learnt to drive (at 17) I did a crash course, it couldn't have been more different to your experience. Don't take any about it being the nature of these courses (which I've heard before), it isn't. Learning to drive via a crash course needs a really good instructor, it takes a certain type of person to be able to build a student's skill and confidence in a condensed period.

Good luck with both your complaint and your next driving test.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Fri 26-Jul-13 11:02:10

Wow Edwinia that is awesome, you are a star! Thank you so much.

I'm going to work on rewriting my complaint today so its ready to go. I feel a lot more sure of myself now.

Re: test, with this guy he picked me up (usually late) and we drove straight to the test centre which is ten minutes away. Then we parked up on the road outside for up to thirty minutes before entering the car park and parking. It was booked for two hours but I reckon I only drove for 50 mins or so, including the test. It was a shock with the new lady when she took me to do all four manoevres and an emergency stop before the test. Still failed but it was so much less nerve wracking.

She did work part time but is still always looking for new pupils.

mayaswell Fri 26-Jul-13 15:47:56

She could advertise on Mumsnet Local!

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Mon 29-Jul-13 19:16:18

I don't know if anyone is still following this but a small update.

I phoned Nippers again today and as expected they refuted all my allegations, that it was my word against his, I received tuition blah blah blah. I did mention that I was taking this further and they went very quiet. I didn't get to say all my complaints, the man was quite dismissive and rude. He also said no one had ever complained about him before, yes that's because the instructor is a scary twat.

I also phoned the CAB helpline who logged the complaint and gave me legislation to quote in my complaint letter (supply of goods and services act 1982) and wording to use.

I only have a telephone number for the instructor so I guess I will have to send the letter to the company instead. And the DSA too I suppose.

What about small claims court, is there a chance I would win? I have evidence in the form of my new instructor who can give her impression of the level of competence I was at when she met me.

It is completely bizarre that there is not some list of instructors or something, because this guy is still out there teaching students, as are the other bad instructors on this thread. Still taking money to drive people in loops around towns. One of his other students was taking her twenty somethingth test whilst I was learning with him, that should have been my warning I suppose.

Well done. Persue it as far as you can go.

Do write to the DSA as well as trading standards. As I said earlier I would probably write the same letter as long as you clearly point them to the service provision and behavioural complaints.

There is a list of instructors. If you are not on that list you can not take payment for tuition.

It is a pretty rigerous process to get onto that list. The tests involved are pretty tough, but the tuition part is essentially based on 45mins with an examiner role playing a pupil. So behabioural aspects not really tested fully. Politeness yes but not sustained behaviour. Pupil progression not really tested etc.

To stay on that list examiners are re-assessed every 2-4 years. Imo this is much less rigerous. The instructor chooses a pupil to teach. Chooses the topic. They can even choose a qualified driver. The examiner then sits in the back and watches a 'normal' lesson which can eadily be faked and/or set up to use a pupil that is predictable. A topic which you like etc.

It is for this reason that I encourage you to write to tge DSA. Their register is based on these checks every few years. The sorts of experience that you have had can't be seen on these check test. They can only be made aware (and with a bit of luck removed from the register) if people that have had problems report them.

Wrt small claims court - I would seak further advice (you don't want to end up paying fees if you lose). I think trading standards can take action against them on your behalf but I'm not 100% sure .

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Wed 31-Jul-13 13:42:55

Thanks Edwinia.

I have the letter ready to go, just doing final checks for spellings etc. I'll send a copy to the DSA and the company and see what happens.

I was reading reviews and found two or three reviewers who have had a similar experience with what sounds like the same instructor, so I added another review giving my own experience. Shame I can't find these people and convince them to complain too.

He had a check test whilst I was learning with him, which he passed, but I know he chose the pupil he took very very carefully - I think it was one of his older female students.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Wed 07-Aug-13 09:00:16

Just sent the dsa a nice long complaint.

I need to work out how to work the printer and then Nippers can have a copy by recorded delivery too.

I've also left my opinion on several review sites and as I have lots of friends with teenage grandchildren and children I have also given them my experience. One was actually about to book with them but hasn't gone ahead now.grin

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Mon 12-Aug-13 16:28:17

Just adding this on here.

Dsa got back to me today. If I want to proceed then they need my permission to send my email complaint to him and get his comments. I got the email yesterday and had a major wobble.

Then the anger kicked in, yes he will lie, yes he will bullshit, but this means it will be on his file. And the really mean part of me is pleased at the irritation and panic that this will cause him, I imagine his face when he gets contacted by the DSA. He was so proud of the fact that he hadn't had a single complaint against him, because he does such a good job of making sure people don't. Can't say that any more can you twatface.

It made me realise just how unregulated this industry is. Dsa went blah blah blah about check test which isn't exactly rigorous, given that you can use a family member, qualified driver or carefully selected pupil for your test. It also comes along with plenty of warning and preparation time. And if you intimidate your pupils into not complaining, woohoo, no worries. Unless you commit some motoring offences of course.

I've also decided to blog about this as this thread will combust in a few weeks and all the useful advice that I have received will disappear. There is very little on the Internet as well about this stuff.

Just to let you know that I am still reading.

You need to persue this.

Well done for doing so to date

HintofBream Mon 12-Aug-13 18:48:00

Edwinia, you are amazing, not just the eminence grise of CandyCrush.

FondantNancy Mon 12-Aug-13 19:11:55

Well done for pursuing this. I'm guessing that there have probably been other complaints about this man (how could there not be?!) but perhaps they fell at the first hurdle of complaints (their word vs his). And they didn't have the power of mumsnet behind them.

Best of luck, OP. Post the blog here if you can, I will be following.

Thanks hints

<I'm addicted to bubble witch and pet rescue at the mo. I am on an impossible level of cc which I am not interested in even attempting it>

Maybe you ask MNHQ to move the thread to other aubjects or something so my (dubious) wisdom and that of others can be preaerved.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Mon 12-Aug-13 22:14:52

Thanks for all the good wishes. I have started the blog anyway, but I'll contact mumsnet as well.

Nippers guy seemed genuinely shocked that it was him and Steve himself said he had no complaints (he is very good at convincing people not to complain). There are two very similar complaints on reviewcentre in May 2013 and September 2012 - no manoevres etc.


I'm the first one. I wish I could get in contact with these two, they would really add weight to my argument.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Mon 12-Aug-13 22:17:01

I had already looked at review centre and spotted you.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Tue 13-Aug-13 11:20:49

grin Edwinia. I have a few more places I want to leave reviews.

There is a positive one for him last year, last may, but its Clacton, his home town.

I had a driving lesson today with my lady instructor, who asked me what I wanted to practice and proceeded to do just that.

Still astonishes me every time.

Enjoying not doing his loops too.

KateSMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 14-Aug-13 15:51:19

Hi all,

We're just going to move this to Other Subjects at the request of the OP.

NeedSomeSun142 Wed 14-Aug-13 16:23:59

my driving instructor used to fall asleep mid lesson!!!!!

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Sat 17-Aug-13 15:45:04

Here is the blog as mentioned, its a bit rough and ready as I'm using it as a record for myself mostly.

RenterNomad Sat 17-Aug-13 16:21:28

You might want to namechange on MN now, as that blog is linked to your real name. God forbid you-know-who should find you on MN and keep track of your emotional life!


ZombiesAteMyBigToe Sat 17-Aug-13 17:09:41

Thanks for the warning! I have to admit it had slipped my mind, i thought i was being clever by using a made up name on my blog.

I do already have a separate posting name on here for anything embarrassing/ hideous and i namechanged on here for my general name about a month ago. I'll check what I have posted under this name and then make a decision.

RenterNomad Sat 17-Aug-13 22:20:27


Looks good.

Where you comment that the reviewcentre reviews may not be the same name could you point out that one of them refers to an automatic instructor and that you were informed they only have 1 automatic instructor/or that this adds to the similarity between you and the other reviewer?

Do keep us posted how you go.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Tue 20-Aug-13 10:37:59

updating from the test centre. passed my test!

PiggyPlumPie Tue 20-Aug-13 10:44:01

Well done ! grin grin grin

Been lurking...


I bet you are chuffed to bits smile

RenterNomad Tue 20-Aug-13 10:59:15

Hurray! It also adds weight to your arguments about the earlier instructor. Is this your first test with the new person?

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Tue 20-Aug-13 12:17:26


very happy and shocked as i made some errors i thought would fail me. also fluffed every manoevre in pre test lesson due to nerves. alsi had examiner with a reputation fir being tough.

hill start in neutral, rolled back and still passed.

it was my second test with this instructor, but the last test was two weeks after my last one with twat features and she only had eight hours with me before it.

yesterday dh let me drive through london at rushhour,through the rotherhithe tunnel and then driving back at night. that was fun!

now on the beach with dcs,dh at home. drove here 40 minutes without another adult. feels good. kids ecstatic.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Tue 20-Aug-13 20:02:33

And it looks like my phone stole all my capitals.

Had a lovely day with the DCs at the beach, they had so much fun.

The fluffed hill start wasn't even the worst mistake but I was so incredibly nervous anyway, plus I got the examiner who everyone dreads grin. But the examiner could obviously tell the difference between nerves and lack of knowledge.

So now I can finally post the serious complaint/demand for refund letter to Nippers and get down to some serious driving grin.

RenterNomad Tue 20-Aug-13 20:32:09

Even though you were wuth thr new instructor by then, it WAS too short a time, and also allows you to compare post-fail approaches: bet Twatface was rubbish!

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Tue 20-Aug-13 21:35:12

Ha, twat features used to say 'bet you thought you were going to pass that time' or 'you really thought you were going to get it that time didnt you' (no shit sherlock!) and get me angry with the examiner for being 'unfair'. Then tell me to book the next test and lessons, during which we would not practice at all the things that had caused me to fail. He would also not let me drive back from the centre.

New instructor said 'well one of those faults was disputable but you did make this mistake, never mind'. Then not only did I drive back from the centre but we redid the parts of the test route I had failed on immediately so I could see what they felt like to do it right. Talking it through calmly but supportively all the way.

And she gave me a hug and told me that I was a good driver, I just got nervous and made a silly mistake.

I posted from the test centre earlier whilst she was telling one of her instructor friends about twat featuresgrin (and after phoning DH of course).

However the sound of the car grinding in neutral as I put my foot down on the accelerator will not be something I will forget easily. Turns out that hill starts (and driving position/cockpit drill etc etc) as we also learnt today were a bit of a gap in my knowledge!

RenterNomad Tue 20-Aug-13 21:56:43

You see, if there's any weaselling about whether your complaint is justified, you have two excellent examples of how a good instructor debriefs a test, and how a shit one doesn't.

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Mon 02-Sep-13 14:00:09

Its taken me a while to get round to it, but I finally (!) posted the complaint/refund letter to Nippers today. I'll update here when I hear from them.

RenterNomad Mon 02-Sep-13 18:41:39

Good luck. Did you post to the DSA at the same time?

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Mon 02-Sep-13 22:38:17

Dsa accept by email too, so I emailed them a copy about a month ago. I posted their pathetic and unhelpful reply on the blog. Haven't heard anything since.

Do I need to send a paper copy too?

I also got a phone call from the BBC Watchdog programme today, so I sent them everything I have and will keep them updated too. I gave the lady a link to this thread <waves to lady>. Also sent her a link to the blog as I wasn't as articulate as I could have been as had been dealing with squabbling DC all day.

Well done.

How did watchdog know about it?

ZombiesAteMyBigToe Tue 03-Sep-13 08:09:25

I emailed them about a month ago when I was still incandescent.


RenterNomad Tue 03-Sep-13 14:05:13

Good work! Transparency is a great antidote to corruption!

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