‘Rogue’ websites costing learner drivers money, RSA warns

Thousands being ‘hoodwinked’ each year, says body

An examiner filling in  a form for a  driving test.  According to the Road Safety Authority, about 4,300 people have booked a  driving test on just a ‘rogue website’ over the last two years.

An examiner filling in a form for a driving test. According to the Road Safety Authority, about 4,300 people have booked a driving test on just a ‘rogue website’ over the last two years.

 


Thousands of Irish learner drivers are being “hoodwinked” each year into booking driving and theory tests through “rogue websites” in the UK.

According to the Road Safety Authority (RSA), around 4,300 people have booked a driving test on just one such site over the last two years with each one paying a premium of €20 above the actual charge to do so. The website has made more than €73,000 by “luring unsuspecting learner drivers on to the site,” RSA spokesman Brian Farrell said yesterday.


‘Misleading’
He said other sites were also “misleading unsuspecting customers” trying to book driving tests while similar numbers were “being duped” into booking driver theory tests via unofficial websites and paying more than was necessary to do so.

Learner drivers looking for the official website to book a test typically type related words into search engines such as Google, Mr Farrell explained. Some of the results which are subsequently returned are adverts that divert people “to bogus sites in the UK that book the test for an extra charge”.


‘Lure customers’
He said the sites “lure customers in by looking official and using words associated with the driving test, theory test and even our name. They ask for lots of personal information which they then manually input into the official RSA sites and then they charge almost €20 for this ‘service’ on top of the normal fee which is €85 for the driving test and €45 for the theory test”.

The RSA is launching an awareness campaign to try to stop people booking through unofficial sites and is trying to take on the rogue operators by placing ads of its own on Google in order to compete.

Mr Farrell said the RSA had contacted the websites directly, asking them to stop, but, because they operate outside the jurisdiction, it was “powerless” to make them desist.