Apply here to become EXTREMELY FRUSTRATED

Last week I realised I needed to update the address on my driving licence after moving house. Since I had this realisation at work, and knew full well that I would forget again as soon as I got home and became distracted by the plethora of deliberately mind-numbing activities available, I decided the best course of action would be to do it during lunchtime at work.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that since my last house move, the DVLA had entered the late 20th century and made the application available to complete (mostly) online, supposedly saving me the time of hunting down a copy of the official form and filling it in.

Unfortunately, that’s where the pleasantries ended.

Attempt #1: I already had a Government Gateway login (placing me in common with less than 0.1% of the population, I suspect). However, I was told my driver record could not be found. Turned out I needed to add my middle name to the application, despite entering my driver number exactly (which wasn’t even a required field). Had to start over.

Attempt #2: Suddenly told halfway through the process that I needed some obscure numbers from the paper counterpart, which precisely nobody ever carries with them. How they justify making this a required field when the actual driver number is optional make no sense whatsoever. Grumbled, and traipsed home to get it.

Attempt #3: On the very next screen I was told they needed my passport number to validate my identity, or I would be subjected to some other ‘alternative’ identification process, which would presumably be uncomfortably invasive (this is the DVLA we’re talking about, after all). Swore. Traipsed home to get it. Let’s face it, any complicated process will always be a challenge to implement online, but a good start would be to list the things needed before beginning, especially if they are not the sort of thing you carry around with you on a regular basis.

Attempt #4: ADSL connection chose the exact moment after submission to drop the PPP session. Swore profusely, and made a note on my to-do list to call my ISP and ask them how my upgrade order was progressing.

Attempt #5:

Swore,  banged my head into the desk. Swore again. Repeated this process twice more over the next couple of hours each time I tried again, vainly hoping the problem would be resolved.

Attempt #6, two days later after finally calming down.

“Sorry… You are not eligible to apply for this service.”

No clues given to explain why. Swore, then looked up the DVLA offices on Bing Maps to assess the viability of a UAV strike. Eventually worked out that my application had in fact succeeded, and was awaiting the return of my old licence by post before progressing. Found the option to reprint the completed form and finally got the application going.

All in all, this was a bad experience with a government department I’ve had nothing but bad experiences with before (the worst case was when they lost Mrs AT’s passport just weeks before our honeymoon, after sitting on her driving licence application for 4 months). Her own house move application also failed its first attempt, despite my careful mentoring, after the session timed out and left her in the same situation as my attempt #6.

Personally I prefer the US model, where in most states the people who give out drivers licences have ACTUAL OFFICES that you visit IN PERSON and they sort all this stuff out face-to-face. I’m sure US readers will have their fair share of horror stories, but every experience I’ve had in the MVA has been a good one.


About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

13 responses to “Apply here to become EXTREMELY FRUSTRATED”

  1. Lukas Beeler says :

    Sounds horrible.

    My last move (from St. Gallen to Horgen) was across cantons – so i expected a fair bit of issues, so i had to change my plates. Did that after getting back from a customer – drove up to the STVA, removed my old plates, went in, dropped my plates on the desk, said that i moved, needed new plates and my drivers license updated. Was given a temporary drivers license printed out right there and a new set of plates. Took about 5 minutes.

    Three weeks later, a bill of around 100 CHF arrived. It works, but it’s expensive.

  2. tmcd35 says : – 1980’s computing in a 2010’s world. Seriously did you try finding an Audio Coupler and connecting your PC up to Prestel to make the request from there?

  3. Soulfish says :

    Just hope the DVLA don’t loose your license and then decide that you never actually had a full driving license in the first place. I have heard that it is in fact “safer” to request an entirely new license claiming your previous one was lost/destroyed. That way you still have the evidence that you were in fact issued a driving license …

  4. 17g33k says :

    The best one was when they had my licence to add my full car entitlement the evil pixies took my full motorcycle entitlement off of the licence.

    Phone call 1) we will send out corrected one – Still no motorbike on it

    2) oops we cannot see any proof you ever passed your motorbike test – send off test certificate pass (certificate 3 years old at this point) – if you do not send off within first 6 months is invalid you will need to go for another test…….

    After i stopped swearing at the interlectual on the phone i got in my car went via home to pick up the photocopys i made of my old licence before sending off absolutly all paperwork relating to me and my bike (yes insurance, test pass certificates, passport, bank statements ect) and proceded to drive to swansea to talk face to face.

    Two weeks later got licence through all happy i had 7 hours of driving and £90 of fuel and a day off work to sort mine out……. so at a miesly 100 CHF looks like you got of lightly Lukas

    • Dale says :

      I had the same problem when I went to get my license changed when I moved interstate. They left of my motorbike qualification. FORTUNATELY I noticed it before I left the license office.
      Part of the problem was that the license classification system changed at the same time.

  5. Giles says :

    Just reminded me to sort out my lost driving license. 10 minutes and it’s on it’s way. Thanks AT!

  6. TheCrust says :

    Douglas Adams had a line in one of the Hitchiker books where he’s talking – if memory serves anyway – about bureaucrats being first against the wall when the revolution comes.

    Every time I read that, I think of the DVLA – can’t think why.

  7. Andy says :

    I had a (well I found anyway) unnerving experience getting a new license – when I applied it went straight through no problems… it arrived with my passport picture on it.

    Just made me feel uneasy really as I had hair back then and it looks nothing like me now .

  8. Dale says :

    “Personally I prefer the US model, where in most states the people who give out drivers licences have ACTUAL OFFICES that you visit IN PERSON”

    I did some consulting work for the Colorado DMV back in 1999.
    They had a armed police officer on duty on the DMV customer floor.
    “We get some upset customers” was the reply when I asked.

  9. Claudio says :

    @Lukas: Same thing… but move from the German into the French part! They look at you like you’re a crazy man and the bill will find its way into your new address… No online possibility in Vaud (Waadt).

    To the AT: Looks like a well-tested system! ;-)

  10. Dan says :

    here we are 3 years on and nothing has changed on the DVLA website, its still totally useless… “computer says no…” how the divvyLA got that nickname will never be any clearer than right now.

    • MTG says :

      To DVLA Management:

      After wasting time and ‘phone calls to six MOT centres in Huddersfield, I came to the inescapable conclusion that the declaration on DVLA’s own website “DLM1’s are available from MOT centres or directly from the DVA by calling 0845 402 4000”….is blatantly untrue.

      DVLA must amend those published particulars, so as not to mislead drivers and incur fruitless pursuits. And DO email your ‘impossible-to-access-on-line’’ form ‘DLM1’, as speedily as possible. I also take issue with unsatisfactory DVLA telephone services. In particular, the extent of ‘options’, apparently devised by a mischievous ten year old….eventually leading to an outgoing message which states that it cannot assist.

      I am tempted to advise Huddersfield MP’s that, in parallel to medical examinations for drivers over the age of 70yrs, they consider a Bill to ensure DVLA employment is conditional to a renewable licence which specifies an annual test to screen out employees whose IQ’s fall below 85.

      Dr M T Gray

  11. Frank Tadeusz says :

    I have had many bad experiences contacting government departments but the DVLA has to be the worst. My finger is worn out from pressing numerous buttons. I find their system over complicated misleading, and frustrating to the extent that banging my head on the desk would have been preferable. A complete shambles like many aspects of life in Britain today. Frank T

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