Council flags concerns over driving school practices

February 23, 2024 11:43 am

The Consumer Council has received a surge in complaints against driving schools, citing instances of non-delivery of contracted lessons, unprofessional behaviour by instructors and disruptive scheduling practices.

Grievances include arbitrary cancellations, rescheduling causing inconvenience and bait-and-switch tactics where manual license lessons are paid for but automatic lessons are provided.

The Council states that driving schools have been accused of requesting unexpected fees mid-course, coupled with poor communication channels, leaving consumers frustrated and uninformed.

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A particular driving school in Suva has garnered four complaints in the past month alone with allegations ranging from a lack of contracts and inconsistent punctuality to shortened lesson durations and poor communication.

Last year, six complaints were filed against another driving school for accepting payments without providing any services or communication, leading to a referral to the Land Transport Authority for enforcement action.

These concerning trends are noted by 49 documented complaints by the Council since 2021, revealing a consistent pattern of last-minute cancellations, rescheduling and communication issues within the driving school industry.

CEO Seema Shandil stresses that consumers have the right to expect transparency, professionalism, and reliability when engaging with driving schools.

She says that the reported cases of misconduct, including incomplete services and unprofessional behavior are clear violations of consumer rights.

While the Council is actively working to hold these problematic driving schools accountable, it advises consumers to conduct thorough research on driving schools, considering their reputation, track record and the quality of services offered.

Consumers are encouraged to request written agreements outlining terms and conditions including the number of lessons, schedule, fees and cancellation policies.

Clear communication and understanding of these terms are essential to avoid misunderstandings and protect consumer rights.

Acknowledging that the majority of driving schools operate ethically and provide quality services, the Council urges the few problematic schools to adhere to ethical practices and uphold consumer rights.