Friday, 3 April 2009

ABC Driving School: They can jerk you around, but woe betide if you jerk them around!

I'm learning to drive so I've got lessons to do and I also have some driving lesson vouchers to use up. I had 3 vouchers from ABC driving school to use up before they expired so I booked a lesson for yesterday.

I was to meet the instructor outside Chatswood RTA, not outside my home, as clearly pointed out to the person whom I booked with this wasn't even my home area. So I travelled out there to have a lesson.

11am was lesson time. I waited out there from 10.50am to 11.15am - I was cutting this guy a LOT of slack considering the lesson timeslot was only an hour. Nobody showed or contacted me. Finally I decided to call the school and pointed out he hadn't turned up - my mobile phone call cost, I might add.

They contacted the instructor who called me and apologised - he made a mistake with his timetable and 'forgot me'.

Whoops, but that didn't really help me and wasn't my fault in the least. Furthermore he couldn't make it up that day so he had to make it up the next day.

So I travelled out to Chatswood today and got my lesson. And paid up with one of them vouchers.

I rang the school today to express my disapproval.

(The reason I didn't do so yesterday was because I figured it would cost me a very long mobile call and I didn't get home to a landline til late, and why should I be footing the bill for a mobile call because of their big mistake?)

Instead of totally apologising and admitting that it was plain unprofessional of them to a) get things so mixed up that they forget a customer and b) not to call that customer but instead leave it to that customer to have to call and say 'hello, noone's turned up' before they realise that their instructor is chilling out doing nothing - you'd think they'd do better checks than that

they just went and tried to explain how they crapped up again - as if that made it ok.

The real point, as I said, was this:

They have a late cancellation fee: If you cancel on them within 24 hours before your lesson, you incur a cancellation fee which is 50% of that lesson.

I would think that a company with such a policy should at least consider compensating me or giving me some assurance for what happened last time. I said I was considering booking another lesson (I have two more vouchers to use up). I said I wanted some assurance that this wouldn't happen again - for instance, would there be some sort of compensation should the same thing happen twice?

The woman got nasty on the phone and snapped, "What are you looking for, a free lesson?"

I said I wanted assurance that this would not happen twice.

After all, I was left stranded and no one contacted me. If this happens to customers at all, let's consider that customers could be left confused, they could have rearranged their day to have come to these lessons, could have paid travelling expenses to have got to them and could have given up activities which could have foreseeably have increased their wealth in order to take driving lessons. And what for - to wait for a driving instructor who doesn't show? And what's more - the customer has to take the initiative of calling the driving school to find that the instructor is not merely caught in traffic but is actually not going to turn up at all?

The woman went off to speak to the manager and came back saying I would get no compensation, and she didn't see why I was making a fuss over it because it was all fixed up so nicely for me and so quickly afterwards.

After I notified them and moved their butts on the matter, that is.

I wouldn't have been quite so upset had I got there and ten minutes to the lesson or even ten minutes after 11am the driving school had called me and said they were terribly sorry but some unforeseeable incident had occurred resulting in my not being able to have the lesson. Athough generally I would expect to get a bit more notice unless it were a really big disaster.

The woman said to me that she assured me that it would not happen again, but no compensation.

"So I have your word on it, right? Just your word?" I said. Note she didn't even reveal her name.

"But what if it happens again, any compensation?" I asked.

"No compensation," she replied.

Great, I have her word on it.

I'm not saying these people want to jerk you around, but when they are able to and they don't even put in something that says they assure you they won't (how hard are they really trying then to keep the appointment? How sure is their assurance if they won't bet the price of a lesson on it?) - well that puts a big RED LIGHT that it's a ONE WAY STREET and you should STOP and LOOK VERY HARD at this one.

I'll use up my vouchers with them but I may go driving school shopping later and see if any offer any better deals in this respect. Or maybe they all have this cover-my-butt but don't-care-about-yours attitude.

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