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AA The Driving School

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      17.02.2013 12:11

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      all in all my experience with the AA great

      I have just read a lot of negative comments about the AA and its instructors and feel that I must relate my experience.In one word great!.On my first lesson I was very nervous althoug I did know some basic things ie clutch control etc as I ride a motorcycle.My instructor made me at ease,took me to a quite road and assesed what I thought I knew,needless to say we started from scratch.My lessons have been very instructive and my instructor very professional,his timekeeping is also faultless.I do agree that the price for lessons is a little expensive but you cannot put a price on safety.Im sorry to read about bad experiences with instructors but thats all about life and choices,if you and your instructor dont gel change instructors,its your choice!.I failed my first test but it was my own fault not my instructors,he got me ready I blew it!.My next test is in a few weeks and wont be changing my instructor.TONY LIVERPOOL

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      31.01.2013 19:13

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      terrible experience with the AA, shall never go back to them

      I am 19 years old, I have had a lot of driving lessons but on n off. My previous instructor had taken on a lot of pupils and so couldnt fit me in for more than 2 hours a week. I had two two hour lessons with one instructor from the AA and found him rather patronising, he was speaking to me like I was a little child in junior school. So I then rang up the AA and asked for a different instructor, the first lesson I had with him was briliant and he asked me when I wanted to book my test, excited I said as soon as possible and booked it for 2 and a half months later. I'd already lost £80 after a different instructor had told me to book a test n then told me he couldnt actually fit me in for lessons. On my lessons my last instructor from the AA had called me thick and would sigh at me if I got things wrong. Also in an attempt to correct my steering he actually hurt my chest and arm. I spoke to the people at the test centre as my instructor had said I would be able to get my money back. This was a lie. The people at the test centre told me I was too late cancelling to get a refund. It was also too late to change the date which my jnstructor said would be fine. The people at the test centre told me that out of good will my instructor should pay for my next test but he said I was a joke saying that and has reported me for inappropriate behaviour. Yes I did swear at him n raise my voice but that is because I have lost £140 paying for driving tests that instructors wont actually take me on and I was sick of being talked down to. I would not recommend the AA to anyone for that reason..

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      23.04.2012 14:47

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      with regard to the AA driving school, i have had one bad experience and one good one. i am still having lessons so i am rather loathe to name any names. i can only say that we cannot really blame the AA for bad instructors as they are self employed franchisees. its not a cop out but just merely stating a fact. the only thing i can say is that as soon as you start to feel that all is n ot going well, it is best to speak up straight away. with my first experience, i had many abortive lessons, lessons where i didnt really learn much at all and instead of tolerating it , i should have asked to be reallocated

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      18.04.2012 15:15
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      Make sure you get hold of the right instructor

      My experience was a mix. They have some excellent instructors, but you need to get hold of the right one. The first instructor who taught me was beyond words unprofessional. She was horrible, always late, blowing cigarettes in between lessons, chatting to me about her personal life, driving to mcdonalds to grab food and coffee in between lessons, not really caring about my driving, giving me no feedback, putting me down even on the things that i did right and simply minting money out of me. I spent good 3 months trying to learn off her, but got no where. I failed the test badly, so i decided to change instructors. I passed my test very well the second time with only few minors, which was the result of combined hard work, both by me and my new instructor. He identified my weaknesses rightly and dedicated sufficiently enough time to correct them. At the end of each class he would give me feedback suggesting room for improvement. He was very patient and motivating. And of course instilled in me enough confidence by taking me to various routes, both seen and unseen in order to give me plentiful experience in various types of routes. So if anyone is trying to learn driving in the watford area, I highly recommend Phil Frasier. He is extremely good.

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      23.02.2012 09:47
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      This review is based on my experience with The AA Driving School and should be taken for what it is. Many people have told me great things about their AA experience, unfortunately, I cannot share the same sentiment...

      After putting my driving lessons off for well over a year, I finally decided to start learning in April last year. I decided to check out The AA Driving School as they are a well known company and always seemed to have good offers on at the time. Unfortunately for me, my area is their busiest city for learners (I know, who'd have thought little old Aberdeen would've been busier than London?!), so they were unable to give me a quote online meaning I'd have to phone them up to find out prices etc. After a few minutes of chatting with the salesman, I'd somehow been talked into buying 10 hours worth of lessons and booking my first one for the following week. This is partly my fault for not being able to say no, but they quite clearly have very well trained salesmen on the phone because I hadn't even realised what I'd done until I'd hung up the phone. I should also mention that the salesman insisted that I book 2 hour lessons as my particular instructor refused to do anything shorter as he felt they were a waste of time.

      The 10 hours of lessons cost me £280 and I would be learning with a male instructor. I was informed that all of the AA instructors were fully trained which seemed silly to point out as I assumed every instructor would be fully trained. This isn't the case and to become an instructor you actually only need to complete 2/3 of the training so I was quite confident knowing that my instructor had completed the full training programme. My instructor arrived 5 minutes early for my lesson and rang my doorbell to let me know he was here and to introduce himself. I followed him to his silver Ford Fiesta where he gave me a quick briefing of what I would learn during my first lesson. It was then I pointed out my nerves due to being in car crashes in the past, but he seemed like he'd dealt with that before. He drove me off to a quieter bit of road where he then showed me all the basics of the car and taught me all of the silly little sayings I'd have to remember to make sure I was doing things in the correct order. He then let me into the driver's seat and let me start the car and drive along the road for a little bit. The road he'd taken me to had a very small, quiet roundabout at the end of it and he told me that instead of pulling over and letting him drive round the roundabout so that I could repeat starting the car again, he'd just slowly let me drive round the roundabout as there was no traffic anywhere to be seen. It was then that I might as well have pooped my pants. Here I was behind the wheel of a car for the first time and he has me driving round a roundabout! Panic over, I managed to do it fine and at the end of the lesson he was particularly impressed with how quickly I picked up on things and how I was able to keep the car straight etc. I was left feeling confident and looking forward to my lesson the following week...

      It was then that it all went wrong. Don't get me wrong, I got on well with him and I was learning quite a bit from him, and very quickly too, but I couldn't help but notice the rude (sometimes racist) comments he would make about other drivers. He would often tell me stories criticising his other pupils whilst flirting with me and quite frankly, it put me right off. I was 18 years old at the time and he, at least 40. As I had already paid for the lessons, I continued with him for the next 3 weeks.

      Week 3 saw me improving greatly and I really was feeling more confident behind the wheel. I wasn't flinching at every bit of traffic that passed me by and I wasn't nervous that I would kill myself either. However the rude comments were happening more and more often and he would occasionally become snippy with me for no apparent reason. At the end of the lesson he told me he was going on holiday next week so I couldn't have my lesson, but it would still come out my quota. Obviously that is total crap considering a 2 hour lesson is £56 and that's a fair bit of money to pay to get absolutely nothing out of it. I point blank refused to pay for a lesson I wasn't getting and that was that. He was unhappy, but we settled on a date 2 weeks later and I was left quite happy with myself for standing up to him.

      2 weeks later, my lesson was booked for 3.30pm. At 12.20pm I arrived home from the gym to find my instructor sitting in his car at the end of my street. I was terribly confused and thought I must've got the time wrong, but when I went online to check the student section of the driving school website, the time was 3.30pm as I'd thought. It was then that I decided he must just have another student on the same street as me.
      20 minutes later I looked out the window and he was sitting directly in front of my house. Weird. Although I wasn't going to rush what I was doing or change my plans because he'd turned up hours early, I text him and told him I'd be out at 3.25pm for our lesson at 3.30pm and he replied "okay."
      When I went out to greet him for my lesson he informed me that the student he was meant to be teaching before me had failed to answer his door, so he came straight to my house. He then told me I'd have to pay for the 4 hours he'd been sitting there.

      Well, I hit the roof. This was the second time he'd tried to get money out of me for absolutely NO service and I wasn't having it. There was no way in hell I was going to pay an additional £112 on top of the £56 I'd already paid for the lesson that day simply because he couldn't find something else to do during the time that the other student had failed to show for. If anyone should be paying for it, it should've been the other student. After a good 10-15 minutes of arguing with the sneaky bugger, we carried on with my lesson and booked my lesson for the week after to use up my final 2 hours.

      This time the lesson was for 11.15am and at 10.50am I got a phone call from the bright spark himself. He was cancelling our lesson that day because he'd been in an accident and had to take the car to the garage. It was then that he informed me that due to company policy I'd have to pay for that lesson anyway as lessons have to be paid in full if cancelled within 48 hours. I politely pointed out that I wouldn't be paying for the lesson as I wasn't the one to cancel it, nor was I the one to crash his car. This made him particularly angry and it was then I passed him on to deal with my dad. No one talks to me like that and gets away with it. After a few quick words, my dad also told him that although I still had 2 hours of non-refundable lessons to use up, I wouldn't be booking anymore lessons with him due to the money making schemes he'd pulled on me for the previous 3 weeks and the creepy, rude comments he'd been making from the start.

      After this whole ordeal, I called the AA to complain and was simply brushed off by employee after employee after employee. After finally getting to the person I was told dealt with the complaints, he simply offered 1 hour of free lessons with THE SAME INSTRUCTOR. I politely declined, but in reality I wish I'd told them to go f themselves. No apology, nothing. Just 1 hour of lessons with the same creepy, money grabbing instructor I'd had before. No thank you.

      I haven't had any lessons since then as I've been so put off of meeting another instructor, so here I am at 19 years old, back to square 1 of being too scared (or creeped out, you tell me!) to drive. My boyfriend has given me the number of the instructor he learned with 4 years ago, so I'm plucking up the courage to give him a phone and give him a try, but until then, I'm happy with my own two feet taking me everywhere!

      My instructor did seem to be quite knowledgable about the road and the car, but this was quickly overshadowed by his terrible personality and scheming ways. I'm quite confident in saying that if you do still want to learn through the AA after reading this then you will get a knowledgable instructor, you just might get someone who would do better in a padded cell than behind the wheel of a car...

      I left out my instructor's name simply because I feel it's unfair to name and shame a person without their consent, but I felt that my experience with the AA Driving School should be shared. I absolutely do not recommend them and I'm only awarding 1 star due to the fact that I can't give them zero!

      Thanks for reading!

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        15.01.2012 22:11
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        Very dissapointed with ADI and whole experience

        This is my AA story. I really wanted to get my licence asap as I was so tired of taking public transport so I decided to pay a little extra and use the AA as they must surely be the best. Now I am aware that the AA runs as a franchise and they can not monitor every ADI all the time. I am sure they have really lovely, patient instructors too. Just not the one I had. I knew it was all wrong when I started dreading every lesson.

        Driving in South London is no easy task for a learner and can be stressful as it is. The ADI use to swear under his breath when I made a mistake and would sigh really loud etc. This made me even more nervous. He told me to book my test and I took many hours with him thinking that I just need to stick it out for a few weeks. At that stage I really hated driving with him as he made me really nervous.

        So he taught me the manouvres BUT he only taught me to reverse around a sharp corner, not a sweeping corner AND he never taught me to look in both side mirrors before moving off when Im in traffic etc. at a traffic light etc. How was I to know? Anyway, I didn't know any better and obviously thought I was ready for the test. I did once asked him about parking in a bay but his answer was simply that they do not ask this at the specific test centre I booked my test! So needless to say I never learned that.

        I failed my test as obviously I was not prepared for this. What really annoyed me was the ADI telling me on our way back that he didn't really wanted me to pass yet as I was not ready!! Obviously!! I fully blame him for not teaching me what I needed to know as the reasons I failed was things I never knew.

        I changed my driving school to a local driving school in my area and she taught me everything I need to know and made me a really confident driver in a fraction of the time. Only after I started taking lessons with my new instructor did I realize what was missing from the AA instructor. I never got feedback after a lesson (my new instructor spend 15 minutes talking about the lesson and this was not part of the time I paid for). She taught me not just with the idea of passing my test, but to become a confident driver. I was actually looking forward to lessons. With my new instructor I passed very easily and felt confident to do any manouvre as I felt like a driver.

        Also, the AA instructor car had all these stickers you have to look for when doing any manouvre which is totally unrealistic! You don't learn how to think and estimate for yourself. For example when the red sticker lines up with the curb then turn the wheel till it reaches the green sticker etc etc. It's ridiculous. The focus is on teahing you like a robot jusopass your test andnot to make you a confident driver. The wrs is that I was never taught some of the crucial basics.

        All in all, I will not recommend the AA to anyone. As I said before, I am sure they have lovely instructors too and can not know what their franchise holders are up to but this is just how i feel.

        I would really urge anyone to first look for local private driving schools, take a lesson and important: change instructors until you find someone you like and actually teaches you what you need to know to be a good driver, not just to pass your test. Actually I could have saved so much money if I just changed my instructor when things were not what I expected but as a learner you just don't know.

        Hope this helps in some small part. Apologies to the good AA instructors out there. ;-)

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          10.12.2011 17:51

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          £280 missing and nothing to show for it

          Having booked and paid for 12 lessons as a birthday present for my 17 year old daughter, she rang to book her first lesson. Guess what - he didnt turn up. When she rang the office they told her that it would be cancelled. Later that day I found an email from the instructor saying that he was ill and asking us to contact him for further appointments. Two weeks later we have given up trying. E mails, phone messges to his moble and the head office brought forth nothing. I finally asked for the return of the £ 228 only to be informed that the first 2 lessons had been charged to the account and they could only refund £190. I cannot afford to book more lessons until that money is returned so the birthdat present has been ruined. I have put the matter in the hands of the credit card company but this could take some time. Avoid like the plague!

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          17.10.2011 11:59

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          Every time I think about AA I feel some people RIPPED ME OFF and some how I let it happen to me. I started with some lady called Ruth, she was very impatient and very road. Any mistake I made she would shouted at me. I used to get very nervous while I was on the car with her, forget learning. After spending £740 I learnt no manoeuvre except learning the biting point. She even went on holiday after teaching me 3 weeks and 10+ lesson(I was taking 2/3 two hour lessons a week).

          One day she took me to a patrol pump to show me how to put petrol. Fare enuf. But there was a long queue. So we were waiting there for a while. After 10 mins or so she got furious. She started screaming...and telling me, she will never come back in this pump in her life again. All the idiots come here to do their petrol and bla bla. Qualified Instructor and her professionalism!!

          That was my last day with her...I must mention that I planned few times to go to a different instructor but every time I was using my last credit she was good as gold and I changed my mind and paid for 5-10 more lessons. Silly me!

          So eventually I spoke to AA about her and now they recommend me a guy called Terry. Nice chap and very patient and a very very good talker but he was always after my mone. This guy would start the lesson with at least a 10 mins lecture. And after you drive 10mins he will ask you to stop the car and brief you for another 10-15 mins(!). If he does not have anything to talk about he will ask you to talk about your mistakes. And at the end of the lesson he will give you feedback for 10-15 mins.

          Anyways he asked me to book my test after 3 months and funny enough he only taught me one manoeuvre after 30 lessons; which is 3 point turn. So I booked my test and at the last month he started cancelling the lessons. Giving me reasons such as, his diary shows I have never booked any lesson on certain day, he is in a traffic etc etc. so I texted him once saying you do know I have test after 2 weeks and do you think I will be ready by then? He texted me back saying he will come tomorrow. The next day he came and told me, he will take my mock test and if he thinks I'm not ready I have to cancel my test and rebook it after 3 month!!!

          That was my last day with AA and by then AA already took my £1560. I went to an independent instructor and first day she told me she thinks, I am a new learner and I took no more than 10 hour lesson. She was not surprised at all when I told her about AA. She said she heard this before! After 6 hour lesson with her now I learnt all the manoeuvres. And she thinks I am ready for the test.

          My friends don't you dare to go to AA. They are Con and they will rip you off. Beware of the CON ARTISTS!!

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          04.08.2011 13:45

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          Unlike some other pupils I can honestly say that my experience with the AA has been excellent. I had an instructor call Tim in Chester and found him to be a great instructor throughout.I have had 3 driving instructors in the past (non AA instructors) and have experienced a range of problems from them being a "bit too friendly" to them being rude and completely disappearing on me.With Tim what I experienced was a professional service; he immediately got me to overcome driving problems that I had been experiencing with other instructors. He was extremely encouraging and after 3 attempts at a practical test I passed on my 4th go.This is a genuine review from a genuine AA pupil who wants to sing praise for one of the (few) great driving instructors out there.

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          17.06.2011 14:44

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          IF YOU WANT TO DO WELL AND ARE SERIOUS ABOUT GETTING YOUR LICENCE GO WITH THIS DRIVING SCHOOL.

          I WENT WITH THE AA DRIVING SCHOOL AND IT WAS WORTH EVERY POUND. I BEGAN MY LESSONS IN APRIL AND BUY JUNE I HAD MY FULL UK DRIVING LICENCE. IF YOUR LOOKING FOR EXCELLENT RESULTS GO WITH THE AA THEY ARE GREAT. WELL MY INSTRUCTOR WAS HE WAS VERY PATIENT, RELIABLE AND ALWAYS EXPLAINED WHATEVER I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND IN FULL DETAIL WHETHER IT MEANT USING A DIAGRAM. HE HAD A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOUR AND WAS ALWAYS VERY FOCUSED WHEN IT CAME TO HIS SCHOOLING. I ENJOYED ALL OF MY LESSONS THOROUGHLY AND WENT AWAY FEELING MORE AND MORE CONFIDENT AFTER EACH LESSON. I WAS A BIT NERVOUS ON TH DAY OF MY TEST BUT I HAD A PRACTICE LESSON BEFORE AND I REMEMBER JUST BEFORE THE EXAMINER CALLED ME MY INSTRUCTOR SAID HAVE FUN. I PASSED WITH JUST 1 MINOR FAULT. THANKS TO JOHN HEYES MY INSTRUCTOR TOP GUY.

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          06.05.2011 12:52

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          I pledge to be the best, most trustworthy instructor ever :)

          After reading these reviews it seems to me that most driving instructors are out for themselves and have no interest in making the pupil feel safe and confident on the road.
          I personally find this a disgrace as i have had a great personal experience when being taught to drive and I would very much like to pass on that kind of trust to my pupils if ever I became in instructor.

          Now that I have seen how bad a reputation the AA seems to have, I am less inclined to train with them as an instructor, but at the same time I think that since I would be working for myself, arrange my own timetable, lesson structure, route plans, that I would be able to give pupils exactly the kind of confidence building lessons that I had, infact I would make it my goal to be patient, understanding, supportive and friendly, someone who they could really trust.

          The instructors that are in it purely for the money will not get a good word of mouth reputation and therefore a small client base, however if an instructor is friendly, patient and someone you can trust, then they will be reccomended to everyone, and this is how an instructor builds a client base.
          So it actually PAYS to be a good instructor, this alone should be motivation enough, however the satisfaction of being able to give confidence to new driver would be amazing, and thats the reason I would do it.

          I would be opperating in the Lincolnshire area, of which I have seen very few AA cars about, therefore hopefully building an amazing reputation and being able to have pupils trust me that I will get them through their tests.

          I hope I am not making a big mistake going with the AA, but it just seems the right choice, maybe once im a fully qualified instructor, I can get a bit of good rep back for the company, hehe.
          Which is why I would advertise myself in local media instead of relying on the AA to find me pupils, this way people know who they are getting and will never have to gamble on getting a bad instructor.

          Anyways just wanted to share my thoughts with you guys, hope this helps people to know that not all instructors are out for themselves and the money (even though it seems like most are)

          Thanks for reading
          James

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          20.03.2011 00:06

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          Well I don't know where to start. I really wanted to learn driving and choose AA because they were well known company, but very very expensive. My instructor wasn't very good, she never put me on easy, she just was after my money. So after 38h and £1400 spent i ask her when i will be ready for the practical test and she said that i will need another 40h - bitch. Then I quit with her and found another indipendant instructor and past the second time after just 10 more hours of driving.

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          19.03.2011 00:00

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          AA bought bsm for a pound over priced I think

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          06.03.2011 20:19

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          Shop around

          I have been a driving instructor for 22 years, the last 8 of which have been with The AA driving School.
          Firstly, there are good and bad instructors in ALL large driving schools.
          Just because your present driving instructor is not what you would have expected, does'nt mean they are all like that. We are all trained, initially to the same standard, and periodically 'check tested' to see if that standard has been maintained.
          The problem is that all instructors can put on a show for the supervising examiner and then be rubbish on normal lessons, if they want to be. The good ones will have the professional pride to keep up the standard as much as possible.
          The bottom line is, if you don't get on with your present instructor, please, please ask for another, and don't be scared of telling the old one what you think. He will soon get the message, and buck his ideas up, or lose lots of valuable work!!
          When I first went to the AA, it was a good school which looked after the instructors and pupils.
          Lately, however, they have become far too profit orientated and instructors and pupils suffer as a result.
          All large driving schools, unfortunately have the upper hand in many respects, and some instructors can find this not conducive to a happy working environment, hence, the pupils suffer.
          Please remember these things things.
          1. Driving instruction is a very stressfull job.
          2. Some people take a long, long time to learn. This is'nt your instructors fault, he cannot teach you faster than you can learn. But, he should be able to bring out the best in your learning capacity, which may not be what you expected.
          3. Word of mouth is the best way to find a good instructor, the schools 'name' means absolutely nothing!!
          4. When you get a good one, listen to him/her, and go with their advice.
          5. A small private school has more to lose if they don't teach properly, but don't forget, you don't have to put up with someone you don't get on with.
          By the way, I am leaving the AA soon, and can't wait to get out of the industry. I have met and taught some fantastic people over the years, some quick learners and some extrmely slow. We are all human and no-one perfect. The job has also helped destroy one marriage and given me a stomach ulcer.
          Will I miss it.......NO!!

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          09.02.2011 19:23
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          Wouldn't spend another £ on them.

          After a few years of stalling and putting off learning to drive, I finally plucked up the courage to start the journey (excuse the pin) I had a good look round, but finally settled for the AA. A big company, so they're bound to be good, I thought. As a new customer, a block of 10 cost me £169.

          The first few lessons were okay, although he came across as incredibly strict and inpatient. This only got worse the more lessons I took. Constantly raising his voice in frustration if I did something wrong. I also hated his teaching methods. He overcomplicated things constantly, using about a dozen reference points on everything, even steering. It was completely frying my brain. Far from me to criticize someone who actually has a driving license, but I've since found out from my new driving instructor, less is more. He would also regularly turn up 25-30 minutes late, his record was an hour. He wouldn't even notify me telling me he was running late.

          On my first lesson, he sold me what he described as a "book" - really a PDF document with about 50 pages of his "proven" techniques, and another 50 pages criticizing independent driving instructors for being greedy and taking advantage of pupils.

          After my block of 10 finished, I thought I would look elsewhere. But on my last lesson, I did really well and thought I would give him another go, so booked another 10. This cost me £210. No more introductory price! I started my new block of 10, but soon started hated them, again. His obsessive fascination with making things as difficult as possible wasn't for me. I once asked him when I should look to be passing my test by. He told me in a months time, after only 14 hours of lessons. Needless to say, October came and went without learning anything new. He would also now and again take me out for only 45 minutes or so, even if I had a 2 hour booking. He would then claim that "everything you've just learned is in the book I gave you so there's no need to stay out really. Just read the book when you get home and you'll save money!!". As if he was doing me a favour. Obviously had somewhere more important to be.

          I've since moved to an independent driving instructor (the same ones that he attempted to tear to shreds in his PDF book) and am now enjoying my lessons. I still get really nervous before they start, but my new instructor has taught me how to do for example, parallel parking and reverse round a corner in just 2 or 3 stages, where as my old instructor used about 10. He's also cheaper and makes me feel more relaxed, which helps my driving no end.

          The AA do use a new Ford Focus, which they used to replaced every 6 months. They now replace them at 12 months due to the recession. This is also the reason they're so expensive. They pass the cost of replacing the cars so frequently onto us! Nice car, but far too big for learners in my opinion. I'm now learning in a Corsa, which is perfect for maneuvers etc, the Focus was just too big, bulky and heavy.

          Would I use the AA again? No chance. They seem to think far too much of themselves, although I suppose that's what happens when you're the "number 1 driving school in the UK" - plenty of eager learners to take the place of the people that you've put off.

          When my brother starts to learn, I'll put him in touch with my current independent instructor, and then a disqualified driver before I'd give him the AA's number :)

          Happy safe lessons! Hope I pass by the middle of this year :)

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