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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.

EdwiniasRevenge Thu 25-Jul-13 15:10:58

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.

EdwiniasRevenge Thu 25-Jul-13 22:11:46

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.

EdwiniasRevenge Fri 26-Jul-13 02:33:44

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.

EdwiniasRevenge Fri 26-Jul-13 10:20:02

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.

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