This week I have renewed my car tax having successfully got the vehicle through its MOT test. Nothing too remarkable about the tax renewal so why comment about it you may well ask. Actually it's the card I had from the DVLA, a day or two before the expiry date, that I want to write about.
Now it's pretty self evident that DVLA are doing everything they can to get those wanting to renew their car tax to go directly to them by using the phone or the internet. The reason quite simply has to be that it is the most cost effective option for them. All well and good in one sense I guess in that it is our money that funds the DVLA and we should be pleased if they can cut costs. But, and it's a very big BUT, the more we go direct to them the less business there is for the Post Office! In my case the village Post Office is not much more than five minutes away, it deserves to be used and the couple who run it are exceptionally likable. As usual then it was the Post Office route I took to make my car legal to drive.
Back to the card I had from the DVLA. This was to inform me that I had an extra five working days to sort the tax; I think that the regulations have been amended to take account of the fact that they just can't get all the tax discs instantly back to their customers at the end of the month! They also drew one's attention again to their free prize draw giving you the chance to win a brand new car! Not a BMW or Jaguar by the way but a more modest model - a SEAT. Evidently the idea is to encourage you to go to their website and, oh while you there, why not renew your tax on line! Having as I said dealt with my tax up the road my curiosity was aroused enough to look at the website and then I saw that the free draw is open to all i.e. no purchase necessary. Thinking about this now I guess that it's a legal requirement that there should be no restriction on participating in the draw. I'm really getting to the point of this post now: is it ethical for the Government to allow one of its agencies to use the carrot of possibly winning a free car to draw people away from using the Post Office in order to to renew their car tax.
I think it is an interesting point to raise and just what a back bench MP should be asking Gordon Brown at PMQs!