Sorting things out after screwing them up is the really important bit!

Sorting things out after screwing them up is the really important bit!

by Danielle Thompson (October 2020)

YOU’RE welcome, if you happen to be the owner of a 1998 Rover 200 to which miraculous things have just happened. You’ve just been given a year’s fresh MOT – and you didn’t even lift a finger! 

I’ve looked up said Rover and it’s no longer listed on the DVLA’s database, meaning that chances are it almost certainly ended up in a scrapyard or was broken up for spares years ago.

Yet a few weeks ago, and nearly a decade after it was last on our roads, it ended up being given a full year’s ticket, with no advisories.

What’s more, the MOT testers even managed to knock 1,500 miles off its mileage – not a bad result. 

The reason why a Rover that’s been deceased for the best part of a decade ended up getting a fresh ticket is because said certificate was actually meant for my own daily driver – a Toyota Avensis, which apart from being manufactured in the same year has absolutely nothing in common with the hatchback family hack from Longbridge.

Oh, except the registration number. Which, as it turned out, is a single digit different from the Rover’s and had been inputted incorrectly into the MoT tester’s computer. 

Luckily, I spotted the garage’s error a couple of days later - in fact, had COVID-19 not reduced my four-wheeled outings to the bare minimum and left the Avensis, MOT paperwork still in the glovebox, consigned to the driveway.

The chaps at the garage admitted the error in inadvertently giving someone else’s old Rover a free MOT, but because all of the MOT passes, fails and advisories are all linked up to a centrally run computer operated by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, the only way to rectify it was to book the Toyota in for another MOT inspection. Thank goodness it passed second time, too! 

It’s an honest human error which the chaps at the testing station apologised for the instant I rang them up and once it was back in the garage, the car, correct registration number intact, was legally back on the road - but it just goes to show that the DVLA, the DVSA and all the other government-run initials responsible for keeping our millions of motor cars in order aren’t run by HAL-esque supercomputers, tended to by boffins with PHDs and MENSA membership cards; they’re run by completely normal human beings, who rely on other human beings to input things correctly.

Humans, as my IT teacher at school was forever telling me, make mistakes. Lots of them, as it turns out. 

I’m forever being told about them on the day job at Classic Car Weekly – people who have been fined for breaking rules that old cars are exempt from, normally – but the thing I always have to remember is that there isn’t some evil organisation in Whitehall somewhere determined to make motorists’ lives hell. It’s always certainly down to the equivalent of someone pressing the wrong button on the washing machine, and then discovering all their T-shirts are two sizes too small.

People screw things up all the time – it’s the sorting things out afterwards that’s the important bit. 

Then again, if it gives someone’s old Rover 200 a free MOT, it can’t be all bad… 

David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly 

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