The inherent problems with restricted testing

The ATFOA Board have been busy.

Following on from the formation of the Stakeholder Group in late 2017 we’ve continued our dialogue with DVSA and attended various round table meetings.

Our mission remains the same: to continue to work towards improving the ATF testing environment for our members and their customers.

The present innate testing environment is not of our making, yet we, as ATF owners, have to deal with the consequences of a restrictive market.

The reduced pool of testers has led to DVSA restricting ATF from testing to their previous capacity. It is common place to hear that many ATF’s have had their test allocation reduced by up to 40%. The financial impact has resulted in lost revenue and redundancies within the ATF community.

So, it was quite a surprise to discover the existence of an internal DVSA email that appears to extol the virtues of their success by awarding a bonus to DVSA staff.

Except from DVSA email


“By way of our thanks, you will receive a £500 reward to be paid in April, for you to spend as you wish.”


Members have found the timing of a bonus for DVSA staff I’ll conceived considering DVSA have engineered a crisis whereby ATF’s have had their testing slots reduced; partly because DVSA have not been able to respond successfully to the supply and demand of ATF’s testing requirements, and partly because DVSA hadn’t forecast the impact to demand for testers by allowing over 550 ATF’s to open in such a short time.

ATF’s have had to make workers redundant and we would estimate hundreds of thousands in lost revenue for each ATF when you take into account the revenue received from pre MOT and preventative maintenance work etc.

It should be stated that there is no issue, in principle, for rewarding DVSA staff at the coalface for their hard work, but by comparison, there has been no recompense for hard working ATF’s who have had to bear the brunt of DVSA’s handling of the scheme.

ATF’s have absorbed administrative, real estate and management costs, as part of this partnership. Front desk ATF staff have had to bear the brunt of angry customers when DVSA testers were not turning up, on a daily basis.

The email continues


“Despite significant challenges, 2018 / 19 has been outstanding year for us in vehicles services, with all zones in excess of honouring 99.7% of all confirmed reservations at ATFs, comfortably exceeding our business plan target of 98%. This success is all down to your hard work, effort and commitment in delivering the best service possible on the frontline.”


It has been argued that DVSA’s statistics in the email are synthetic nonsense; One has to question how DVSA can rejoice their ‘honouring of confirmed reservations’ when they are also responsible for restricting the test allocations.

The statistics do little to help understand the real narrative. To rejoice honouring of tests is almost 100% when the tests have been restricted is a falsehood, it’s nonsensical. It’s like a third world shop keeper rejoicing that he’s sold all his bread from the shelves when the regime only delivered 1 loaf that day with 300 people queuing up outside.

When one entity controls both elements of supply and demand, the testing environment in this country will continue to suffer because it will always struggle to adjust to customer requirements and free market movements. The controlling entity will tend to preserve itself rather than allow the free market to flourish.

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