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Adjudication

Publication Date
30 May 2013
Case Reference
17843
Procedure
Track 2
Adjudicated Party
Waqar Ashraf trading as book-theory-test-online
Service Type
Customer support
Tribunal's final assessment
Very Serious
Sanctions
Code 12 para 4.8.2b - Formal reprimand and/or warning
Code 12 para 4.8.2i - General refunds
Code 12 para 4.8.2d - Fine
Breaches raised
Summary

Between November 2012 and March 2013, PhonepayPlus received 17 complaints regarding a driving theory test booking service (the “Service”) operated by the Level 2 provider Waqar Ashraf trading as book-theory-test-online. Between 5 August 2012 and 1 March 2013, when the Service was suspended by the Level 1 provider, the Service operated a telephone booking service on the premium rate number 09050020024. Calls were charged at £1.53 per minute. The Network operator was Premium O Limited (“Premium O”).

The Service offered consumers the opportunity to book a theory test either online or by calling the premium rate number. Consumers who called the number incurred a £31 charge plus the cost of the premium rate telephone call. The costs incurred by consumers using either the online or telephone booking service was significantly higher than the cost of booking a test through the official channels.

Driving Theory Tests can be booked online for £31 on the Direct Gov/ GOV.UK website. Although booking online is strongly encouraged, tests can also be booked by telephone, on a 0300 number, where a consumer has a disability, or no personal or public internet access (for example at a library). 

The Service website was promoted using Google Adwords.

Complaints raised concerns regarding the length of calls, pricing prominence and customer service. A number of complainants also stated that they were under the impression that they were calling the official DSA contact number. The maximum cost incurred by a complainant was £94.82 (the average cost incurred by complainants was £52.74) excluding the £31 charge for the test.  After monitoring the Service and viewing promotional material, PhonepayPlus had concerns regarding the clarity of pricing, pricing prominence, undue delay and the potentially misleading nature of promotional material. PhonepayPlus also noted a delay in the registration of numbers by the Level 2 provider.

Click here to view the Adjudication decision