NCT provides 200 free tests due to waiting times

Free test provided if no appointments within four weeks

Using a vehicle without an NCT is now under the fixed charge notice system. Photograph: Dara MacDonaill

Using a vehicle without an NCT is now under the fixed charge notice system. Photograph: Dara MacDonaill

 

The National Car Testing Service (NCT) provided 200 free tests last week to customers unable to get an appointment within the timeframe specified in the service’s charter.

That number is out of a total of 30,000 NCT tests booked last week, according to a service spokeswoman.

Under the NCT Customer Charter, free testing will be provided when a customer cannot get an appointment within a four-week period, provided the customer has not declined a test appointment more than twice at their chosen centre for the test due and has not previously accepted a booking outside the four-week period.

The charter also promises free testing if a customer has to queue for more than 60 minutes from the start time of their appointment, provided they arrive on time.

The full charter can be found at http://www.ncts.ie/customer_charter.html

A number of changes to the penalty points system took effect earlier this week and though using a vehicle without an NCT has always been an offence, it is now under the fixed charge notice system.

Drivers now have the option of receiving penalty points and a fine rather than appearing in court.

Fianna Fáil spokesman on transport Timmy Dooley spoke out against Minister for Transport Paschal Donohue for introducing such changes without first addressing the NCT backlog.

A spokeswoman for the NCT said the current national average waiting time for a test was between 11 and 14 days.

She said the appointments listed on the website were not a true representation of the slots available. She encouraged customers to phone the call centre, where it is possible to be put on a priority list.

She said there has been an increase in people contacting them for testing over the last number of weeks because of changes in the penalty points system.

The Road Safety Authority has hired 50 additional staff members to cope with the increase in demand.

When this writer phoned the call centre to secure a test, they were told the majority of centres in the country were booked until March 2015.

If a customer’s due date was before March, it was possible to be placed on a priority list, and staff would do their best to find an appointment within 28 days. It was also possible to get a cancellation.

A spokesman for An Garda Síochána said: “If someone can show they have an NCT booked, it’s unlikely they are going to get penalty points. People have difficulties making appointments, so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.”

When someone books a test, the NCT issues a confirmation by email, SMS or letter.

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