New DVLA on-line system is broken

Why can’t companies¬†implementing government on-line systems actually get anything right? And if they must mess things up, why can’t they do it in private? The new DVLA system is broken. They ought to¬†have tested it in-house, without launching a beta version on the public. Seriously, do they not know what a beta version is for?

My experience – I went through and entered all the details, paid, and got this:

It’s now impossible to tell whether it’s taken payment from the card or not. Okay, this appears to be an external system that’s screwed up BUT it’s not be handled properly. Basic rule of data communications – Assume the link will be corrupted and cope with it.

DVLA tax disc renewal problems

Like most New-Labour government computer systems, the DVLA is broken. I don’t just mean it’s propensity for making mistakes – I mean it’s systemically flawed.

It goes something like this…

You buy a car in March and keep it for, say, four years (i.e. until it requires an MOT). The Tax Disc will expire at the end of February, as does the MOT and insurance. You’re expected to buy a new tax disc in advance – it should let you buy one from the 5th day of the month it’s due to expire. But it won’t – it says your MOT and insurance are about to expire (which is true, they’re bound to). So you get your MOT a couple of weeks early (wasting a couple of weeks of MOT time) and persuade your insurance company to insure you for eleven months instead of one year, or some such fiddle, to get the renewal dates out of alignment.

Why should you be forced into this performance? Life’s too short to argue, but any fool can see the system is flawed.

Couple this with the fact that they can’t organise a computer system properly and you have big problems – as I do now. The DVLA computer reckons my car isn’t insured. My insurer (of fifteen years) says it was renewed as usual at the start of the month, and can’t understand why the DVLA is having problems registering it.

You can call Swansea on 0300-7906802 if you actually need to speak to a person, although they’re not keen on giving this out, preferring the premium rate automated system numbers. I did this and was advised that I couldn’t drive my car now that the tax had expired, and that the government computer system responsible for the error wasn’t their responsibility. I could, if I wished, drive to the nearest post office issuing manual tax discs and they might be able to help – apparently they can now take faxed documentation but I bet they don’t know that! Anyway, how am I supposed to drive to the nearest Post Office if I don’t have a car.

To cap it all, they said they wouldn’t actually fine me for not renewing or declaring the vehicle off-road for 14 days. That’s big of them!

I asked about who to appeal to concerning DVLA problems and got the email address for their customer services department. I don’t I’ll get much satisfaction. My MP shall be hearing about this, although he’s not morally responsible for New Labour computer systems.

I think it’s time something was done about the DVLA, and would be interested in hearing about people having similar problems.