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The AA Driving School - drives you round the bend!
AA The Driving School
Member Name: QueenM
AA The Driving School
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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