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Want to know the cost of getting your lorry licence – but how can you tell you are speaking to a proper HGV or PCV driver training school?

5th April 2021

It’s tempting to go on line and contact the first company listed on Google.

  1. Because they’re at the top that means they are the best?
  2. Because they’re offering finance so must be credible?
  3. Because their website shows pictures of plenty of nice looking, modern, vehicles?
  4. Because photos of happy, welcoming, office staff and instructors are their employees?
  5. Because they say their instructors are qualified?
  6. Because they seem to have loads of branches they’re a big reputable school who’s been getting people through their tests for years?
  7. Because they appear to have good ratings?
  8. Because they suggest they’ve got a hotline to the best paid driving jobs around?

Regrettably, behind each one of these ‘comforting’ thoughts there is a darker truth hiding.

Top of the List?            

Yes, but only because they’ve paid more than anyone else for an advert on Google.  

Try looking past the first page.  On page two, three or four you could find a listing from a local school who simply doesn’t have a ‘marketing budget’ to get into the first few positions.  Wouldn’t you prefer to pay less and have your money go to training, not paying for someone’s Adverts or Salesman Commission.

Offering Finance (especially, 0% finance)?

They are probably “loading” the interest charges into the booking fees and hiding the true details and cost of your training.  And if you are being pushed really hard to take out a loan they could be thinking about the extra commission they’ll get from the finance company to persuade you to take on a loan.

Nicely presented ‘plain, single colour’ fleet of vehicles?

Probably stock photos bought from a website that sells artistic pictures of trucks or other vehicles.   You’d be wise to visit the school and take a look at the actual training vehicle(s).  Perhaps their website only shows working vehicles maybe because they haven’t got any training vehicles at all

Beautiful people?

Stock photo websites also sell pictures of good looking models with Call Centre headsets or staged photos of hunky guys standing and posing by vehicles.  Real booking staff and instructors maybe so pretty, but they know how to help you arrange your training, teach you to drive a truck and get you through your test.

Qualified & Accredited?

The DVSA don’t hold a register anymore.  Don’t be fooled by seeing RHA or FTA/UK Logistics logo’s it just means someone has paid for their membership and these bodies don’t regulate the quality of driver training.  Visit NRI & NVDIR websites to find schools and instructors who hold genuine HGV/LGV training qualifications.  

How long have they been trading?

Genuine schools websites show their Registered Office Address and their Company Registration Number (and if you’ve really got to search hard to find the details in the small print of their Terms what else are they hiding?).  Go to Companies House website and search.  See if you can find them? How long they’ve been in business?   If they’ve only been around for a short while could they really have grown to be such a big school overnight?   Could you visit them (or is it just a Serviced Office) and talk to their office staff or an instructor in person and get in their vehicles?

35, 50 or 100 branches?

Sorry, but there isn’t any national HGV/LGV schools.  So this statement means they are a Call Centre, a brokerage or agents that will re-sell your booking on to a local instructor.   Why not go directly to your local instructor and save yourself Salesman’s Commission!

Ratings?

If you ever watched the video about some guys who made fake food and got their friends to add fantastic reviews get top ratings for their mock restaurant website (and hide the bad reviews), then you’d never believe Trust Pilot and such review platforms again.  
 OK some reviews training schools may be genuine, but perhaps they only relate to learning the theory? Surely it’s the ratings of the whole booking, including the driving that you want to know about.

Driving Jobs?

Yes, there is a shortage of drivers but being newly qualified you’re probably not going to walk into a top jobs right away.  Be realistic, get some experience and build up your skills.  Don’t be lured by grand, unrealistic promises from Broker Salesmen.  Genuine schools are always being approached by companies looking to take on new drivers because the employers know the school and instructors have an excellent reputation.   Employers are happy to help newly qualified drivers from a ‘good training’ background.

What can I do to protect myself?

Ask drivers or your transport manager for local recommendations.  They’ll know which training schools have been around for years and who’s got a good reputation.
Phone the school in office hours, or ask for an appointment to visit them.

Don’t be lured by promises of quick dates for training and tests, good schools have waiting lists.  
If you get pestered, with several call backs, and asked to spend large amounts of money (or repeatedly asked to take out a loan) then alarm bells should start ringing

Remember, if an offer is sounds too good to be true, it usually is.