I had some car trouble…

Life has brought me to the stage where I had to go and buy a new car the other day. It’s been that all-time consuming that I’ve barely managed to watch any TV or movies to write about. Sadly, my current motor has gone to the great knackers yard in the sky (*Last Post*) after approx. 13 years of service to me & my family – the cost of repairing it’s recent problems has now began to exceed the actual value of the car. Here it is, a bit fuzzily photo’d, getting towed away;

Bora getting towed

It’s quite a mission just getting started – securing the finance (I’m not ashamed to admit I needed a loan – 6 month’s unemployment kinda drained the savings!), surfing the net looking on car dealerships/autotrader/Parkers etc, and going for test drives – all this just to be in a position to make a decision. Then it’s onto the sharky salesmen with low retail standards pitching you (because, it seems, if you test drive then you absolutely must buy it too! Obviously!), haggling prices, and all the self-doubt & uncertainty whether it’s the right car.

Anyway; turns out the DVLA was able to get in my good books and on my shit list all in the same week through this car buying experience…

Going for the test drives made me realise two things;

1. The address on my license was waaaaaaaaaay out of date;
2. The license itself looked as though it had been drafted by medieval monks on tatty bit of parchment

It was time to get the address up-to-date and upgrade to a sexy, new photo card.

I applied online with ease but found at the end I was not charged for the upgrade. Concerned, the following morning I rang the DVLA to arrange the payment I expected to make. Surprisingly, the call was answered promptly, the gent dealing with me was highly professional and, (the icing on the cake) told that there was no charge!

Not only that; but the tele-advisor informed me that my application had already been processed and would likely be in the post that day!

Lo and behold – the license arrived in the post a mere 2 days later.

Del Boy Driving License

This is not my real license! That would be silly!

I was stunned; this was not the experience I’d come to expect from a government body (and believe me; I’ve had some experience with government bodies!); simple paperwork, promptly answered phones, and efficient service? I thought I was in the Twilight Zone. Well done DVLA, for a handful of days you were firmly in my good books!

However, as all this amazing service was twisting my melon, another administrative journey was beginning with the DVLA, one that should also be as simple & efficient…

The vehicle I decided on turns out to have a personalised license plate. The plate owner is keeping the plate and so the car is being reverted back to the original license number before I can drive it off the forecourt. The DVLA are responsible for this process, and are now into day eight of “processing” the paperwork.

I am rather impatiently waiting: it’s causing me all sorts of problems. I’m car-less currently, which is a great inconvenience that has made me realise how much I took my car for granted. I’ve also got a commitment on Saturday that I could really use a car for. It’s also holding up other integral parts of the process to get me road legal; without the correct registration I can’t get the car insured or taxed. I haven’t even got the piece of paper that allows me to get the plates made!

It’s all a big pain in the ass.

What I want to know is this; how can this government body that was able to provide such an efficient & timely service as described above, that is so abundantly staffed they could answer telephone enquiries with barely a hold queue, that has so expertly streamlined the license application process to a few simple & convenient webpages, can provide such an extreme opposite level of administrative quality when it comes to something as simple as changing a license plate number.

Obi Wan License Plate

What does it actually entail, really? Surely it’s just a case of updating a spreadsheet and/or a database and printing the paperwork with the updated info on it? Is there an enormous, overwhelming influx of personalised plate change requests in January? Have they run out of stamps? I WANT MY FREAKIN CAR!

So there you go – the DVLA giveth a license but taketh away any driving all in the same ten day window. I suppose it’s my own fault for falling in love with the one car out of all I considered and test drove that had some complication to just simple purchasing it and driving it.

My advice then is simple; if you are going to buy a used car avoid ones with personalised license plate.

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