Result! Bitterwallet readers help the Government make up its mind on MOT reform.
I know what you’re all thinking. That Bitterwallet is just here to keep you informed of consumer, financial and legal matters that actually matter in a fun and skilfully written way. Of course that is what we are here for, but we are also here to challenge those rubber neckers up at City Hall- to take on the Government and win. Ish.
You may recall we wrote about the proposed changes to the frequency of the MOT system about a month ago. The Department for Transport (DfT) was considering reducing the frequency of MOT tests, to bring it in line with Continental Europe- changing from the current 3-1-1 system to a 4-2-2.
As part of a larger red tape consultation, the Government had received 291 comments on the vehicle safety section of the Red Tape Challenge website. We thought we could do better, and our poll actually brought in more than 2.5 times the number of responses. The results were also interesting.
Despite ProMOTe’s claims that reducing the frequency of an MOT would actually cost you more (yeah right), we thought the obvious time and money saving of fewer MOTs would be attractive to Bitterwallet readers. And the Yes camp did come out top in our poll, but by a far smaller majority than we might have imagined. Out of 739 responses, 54.8% were for a reduced frequency and 45.2% were dead against it, the vast majority for safety reasons.
We thought this was very interesting. So interesting that we actually contacted the DfT about it. In addition to letting them have our research findings, we also quizzed them on their consultation practices. We thought using an online method was great, but worried that, if little old Bitterwallet could get 448 more responses in two days than they could get in a three-month consultation surely they were doing something wrong?
The DfT were at pains to point out that the Red Tape consultation was a general fact-finding mission and not a dedicated MOT reform consultation, and that a specific consultation would take place before any changes were made. However, we pointed out that, while fantastic sites with an engaged and moderately intelligent readership like Bitterwallet can get immediate, meaningful responses in hours, Government consultations are, in general, only responded to by organisations and private firms. I mean, have any of you ever responded to one? You really wouldn’t want to, they are long and dull and take ages.
They obviously took our points on board and decided not to have another stuffy consultation. Instead,the DfT has announced today that it will not be changing the MOT frequency. Given that the size of our response greatly exceeded theirs, we can only conclude that it was Bitterwallet’s own dear readers who made up the Government’s mind for them. Go us.
The retention of the current system will reduce the risk that "vehicle defects are being missed and roadworthiness mis-assessed". The DfT have also announced that they will:
> Shine a light on the performance of MOT testing stations by releasing hitherto unpublished VOSA survey data on whether the sector is complying with test standards.
> Work with motoring organisations to find out what problems motorists experience and enable them to share examples of good customer service – in particular to find ways to make it easier for customers to give feedback on their experiences of garages in a way that others can see – potentially in the manner of existing online hotel and restaurant review websites.
> Encourage the take up of industry codes of practice – and expand them to include MOT testing – so that customers can find garages signed up to schemes delivering the highest standards and take action if they have not received the service they expect.
> Help motorists to spot “clocked” second hand vehicles, by changing MOT certificates so that they carry the last three years’ mileage information as well as the mileage on the day of the test, and encourage car buyers to check full MOT histories using the online MOT database.
> Arrange “mystery shopper” tests to help improve performance in addition to those already carried out by VOSA.