I was going through all my Firefox bookmarks in an attempt to get slightly more organised when I found the link to Nippers terms and conditions. I hadn't seen them for a good few months and I suspect a lot of people book with big companies without reading their Terms and Conditions, so its worth going through them.
Remember if you sign up for an intensive course you are handing over a LOT of money at once, not £20 for each lesson. If something goes wrong and you refer to the terms and conditions you will see that there is pretty much NO chance of getting Nippers to refund anything, even if they have provided a terrible instructor. They wash their hands of you, it is not their responsibility, you have to discuss it with the individual instructor and try and persuade them to give you some money back. Otherwise there are no other routes to get money back except for Small Claims Court and all the hassle and expense that entails. So don't book a big company thinking that your money is protected and you have some fallback. You don't, you really really don't. They couldnt care less.
Nippers Terms and Conditions are here:
Lets go through the important ones:
1. Nipper's School of Motoring only use CRB checked, fully qualified, Driving Standards Agency (DSA) approved driving instructors.
-Sounds good doesn't it. But you can see from my dealings with the DSA and some revelations about the check test that this means very little and tells you nothing about the quality of the instructor provided. Steve did his check test with a carefully selected pupil (who could already have been a driver for a long time according to the lack of regulations), pulled out all the stops, rather than sitting and chatting rubbish for two hours and passed. There are several levels of pass as well, levels 4, 5 and 6. Worth finding out what level your instructor is at even if the test is a load of rubbish.
4. All persons booked onto ANY course must reach the standard expected from the DSA before they will be allowed the use of the tuition vehicle for the practical test. The instructor will make the decision as to whether or not this standard has been achieved at the end of the course. Their decision must be taken as final.
-Sorry, I'm sniggering here. Five tests it took me due to the yawning gaps in my knowledge and skill. And as you can see from my previous posts, I was dangerous. Really dangerous. So dangerous I was having nightmares for weeks about taking my kids out. But hey, why not take the test (s) anyway, good experience, right? Oh wait......
5.It is not Nipper's School of Motoring's policy, nor that of the DSA to allow pupils to take their driving test for the "experience".
Now 12 and 13 are interesting. I believe they are new additions. I find myself unable to copy and paste from the site itself so I have typed all of these out from the site. I have corrected all the spelling/capitalisation mistakes.
12.Your instructor is a self-employed franchisee ("Your Instructor") of Nipper's School of Motoring. Nipper's School of Motoring acts as a agent for your instructor in receiving your payments for driving lessons other than payments made directly by you to your instructor. The contract for driving lessons is solely between ("You") and your instructor.
13.If any complaints arise these should in the first instance be discussed with your instructor, then in writing to Nipper's School of Motoring.
So there we have it. Nipper's merely provide you with the name of an instructor, if anything goes wrong or you get an incompetent one you have no fallback, even if they have recommended them. You must discuss it with your unpleasant driving instructor, who knows where you live and has no reason to even listen to your complaints. And if you complain to Nippers you will get fobbed off. Drawback number 561 of using an intensive course, once they have your money, thats it, you wont get it back. There is no where to go for complaint resolution or any form of restitution and in this business all the power is behind the instructor. You should still complain though, the more complaints, the more indication that there is something wrong. I know a lot of people feel scared/indimidated etc about doing this, but if the people who had experienced this before had done what I am doing, I never would have wasted my time or money on Nippers or Steve Eggleton.
If I was learning to drive again I would have gone with a local independent who had been recommended to me (Pam Sinclair, or Ellis ABC) and I would have paid for several two hour lessons a day if necessary, but on my timetable and paying for each one at the time. I would have spent less because I would actually have had a competent instructor who was interested and committed in teaching me to drive SAFELY and COMPETENTLY, rather than chatting. If there had been a problem I would just have cancelled my lessons within 24/48 hours and walked away, rather than being committed. I also would have read everything possible about good driving instructors, which would have helped me realise how crap Steve was much sooner.
With an intensive course if you have an issue with the instructor the short time scale means it is very hard to change instructor and you run the risk of losing the money you have paid out in test fees. There is no benefit to going with one of these companies, no extra protection. In fact you just have to deal with two sets of incompetent arseholes, rather than just the one.
Nippers final Term/Condition is amusing:
14.Nipper's School of Motoring reserve the right to alter these terms and conditions as necessary.
So they could theoretically change the boundaries on you, mid way through the course. So rule number 1, take a copy of the terms and conditions, screen shot, photograph, insist on a print copy from Nippers if necessary, but make sure you have a copy of the Terms and Conditions YOU signed up to. Its a lot of money.....