BIG TOM Customer Benefits

 Owner of BIG TOM, Tom Ingram, explains one of the customer benefits:

“When my customers go to take their driving test they are given the option of having me observe their test for them, from the rear passenger seat.  I talk through with them the positives and negatives of utilising this additional service that not all driving schools provide.  It is, however, entirely my customer’s decision and I will respect their wishes.

Recently I observed on a driving test my customer being asked to do a reverse parallel park in the location as shown in this image; this is precisely the arrangement that occurred in the driving test.  I knew from my experience of observing dozens of driving tests over the years, that this was not a reasonable demand to make.  The reason I knew that to be the case, is that the DVSA Driving Standard insists that driving instructors encourage pupils to make continual risk assessments while driving and develop this vital skill for safety after the driving test.  As such, it would be entirely inappropriate to then demand a pupil who has got used to making such assessments to then go against their training by forcing them to do in this case a manoeuvre in an entirely unsuitable area.  One only needs to consider how close the driving school car is to the parked car, the kerb on the right and the junction at the end of the road to notice that there are added risk factors being “designed in” to this particular driving test which is not the norm.

My pupil attempted to do the reverse parallel park in the situation demanded and failed her driving test just for that reason (no other serious/dangerous driving faults committed).  Having observed this, I then spoke to the examiner after the driving test as well as my customer, and lodged a complaint on behalf of my customer, supporting it with a few images of the actual situation.

My pupil then took another driving test much to her credit and passed it.  Some 2 weeks later, the DVSA got back to me to say that the Test Centre Manager agrees with the complaint and that it was an unreasonable request, and the test fee will be refunded.  It doesn’t take away the injustice of the original driving test (and the consequences in delayed time and pressure that were then added to my pupil on her second attempt), but at least my customer does receive a refund for the driving test fee.

This is just one example of how driving schools differ in their approach to customer service – as some driving instructors don’t give their customer any option of having their test observed preferring to sit and wait in the test centre for the duration of the test.”



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