In early 2013, PhonepayPlus received four complaints regarding the “Book Your Theory Test” service (the “Service”) operated by the Level 2 provider Book Your Theory Test Online Ltd. The Service operated without a premium rate number from August 2011; however, on 16 January 2013, the Level 2 provider began operation of a booking service on the premium rate number 09131308378. Calls were charged at £1.53 per minute.
The Level 1 provider for the Service is Numbers Plus Ltd provider. The Network operator is Telecom 2 Ltd.
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, www.book-your-theory-test.co.uk, is promoted using Google Adwords and, at the time of the investigation, was displayed as the top sponsored link when searching “book theory test” on Google.
Complaints raised concerns regarding pricing prominence and customer service. The maximum cost incurred by a consumer was £8.70 (the average cost incurred by complainants was £8.13) 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.