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I spent half of last weekend engaged in a futile attempt to tax my car. Considering that I am being asked for more than TWO HUNDRED English pounds for the privilege of driving my car on the congested and poorly maintained roads of Britain, I would think that the greedy admin-weasels at the DVLA would be happy to accept my reluctant payment. How misguided I am.
It all started a couple of months ago when I took the car for it’s MOT test which is required in order to tax it. It predictably failed but not by much and needed a new seat belt and a little welding. As is customary in these situations I asked the Kwik Fit chimpanzee to go ahead with this work so that I could leave with a shiny new MOT certificate with which to tax my car. As it turned out, Kwik Fit don’t do seat belts. Nor do they do welding. Nor do they know anybody who does. As a result I left the garage with a piece of red paper telling me that I couldn’t tax my car and a wallet precisely fourty four pounds lighter.
At this point I set about finding somebody who might consider fixing my car. After a great many phone calls and Google searches I found a small garage in the next town that would weld my chassis for me and so five days and sixty pounds later I collected my newly welded car and set about finding a replacement seat belt. Having already spent a lot of money fixing what was a trivial spot of rust I decided to replace the seat belt myself. Not a great idea.
I bought a seat belt for twenty pounds only to find that it was not the same as the original. Not to be so easily thwarted I set about removing the original one, which due to my patchy knowledge of vehicle repair required a large hammer and a hacksaw. Having achieved step one of the process I then attached the new one using a combination of an old coach bolt from a washing machine and a series of knots which I then concealed by gluing the seat covering to the metal frame of the car. This meant that my workmanship could only be properly checked by ripping open the fabric of the seats. This measure I hoped would dissuade any close inspection of my installation methods.
And so one day before the ten that I was given to repair the car I returned to Kwik Fit where I was told that I needed a full retest as the only person who knows enough about cars to perform an MOT test wasn’t in until Monday. Monday came, the stupid car was tested again by the stupid Kwik Fit primate and miraculously it passed the stupid test and I was given a stupid piece of green paper allowing me to pay my stupid car tax.
By this point, I was due to go on holiday for nearly three weeks so instead of taxing it, I declared it off road using the tax reminder that I had been sent.
Upon my return I tried to tax the car online using the same reminder. It didn’t work. I went to the post office. They didn’t sell car tax. I went to another post office. They did sell car tax, but not to people like me who have the audacity to try and use a tax reminder that has already been used to declare the car off road. I needed a V5C form. I had a V5C form. Well, half a V5C form but unfortunately not the half that the paperwork Nazis at the DVLA required. It seems that, MOT certificate, tax reminder, insurance certificate and driving license with my face on it (accompanied by my actual face) were not proof enough that I was worthy to pay my car tax. I needed a document harder to forge than the Mona Lisa itself to prove my identity. I needed an A5 sheet of green paper with my name crudely printed on it using the same typeface used by World War II telex operators.
“Don’t worry, Sir.” said the falsely apologetic gonad behind the counter. “Just call the DVLA and they’ll send you another one.”
So I went home and called the DVLA in the misguided hope that they may look me up on their database and allow me the honour of a tax disc to proudly display for all to see. Wrong again. Unfortunately the reminder that I used to declare the vehicle off road can only be used once for data protection and security reasons. Just what these reasons could possibly be I am still trying to fathom. It could be used to cunningly tax your car more than once, ingeniously embezzling yourself out of an extra few hundred pounds. Or it could be used in case of emergency as an Andrex substitute. Those were the only two alternatives I could come up with and neither convinced me. I cant see why someone would tax their car twice and I wouldn’t put anything that originated with the DVLA near my arse in case it tried to fuck me.
“So how do I tax my car?” I pleaded, “I want to use it this afternoon.”
“You can tax it at your local office with the documents that you have. It’s only twenty five miles away, Sir”
Not far if you have a car. Which I didn’t.
I asked why only the distant office that only opened between nine and five on weekdays, the hours that I (along with the majority of sixteen to sixty five year olds) spend at work, could tax the car with the documents that I had.
“Because we don’t have access to the DVLA’s database here.”
‘Here’ being the DVLA’s head office in Swansea.
I argued for another ten minutes making increasingly grandiose comparisons between the DVLA and among other things; Dictators, monkeys, hippies, pimps, people with special needs and of course Nazis. Then with a final flourish I suggested that the only way the DVLA could be any less efficient would be if they based all of their administration on the principle that in an infinite universe of infinite possibility it is inevitable that all possible things will happen at some point and so relied on the spontaneous appearance of a valid tax disc by my windscreen due to an improbable (though not impossible) random alignment of molecules on my dashboard.
Once I had exhausted my imagination with my flamboyantly esoteric complaint I was told that for only twenty five pounds they would send me a replacement V5C. I was told after politely inquiring how the figure of twenty five pounds was arrived at that it was an administration fee. If four and a half seconds spent printing a replacement V5C is worth twenty five pounds then lawyers are under charging us. I have a friend who is a lawyer and she charges twenty two pounds for every six minutes of her time. At that hourly rate I am surprised she can afford to eat.