SIR - I have just had the ‘privilege’ of putting my vehicle through a partial NCT test – which it passed. Despite my having booked the test online, apparently I was expected to have inferred only a partial test would be done (for the full test fee) by reference to the media, and I am further expected to determine when the test can be completed by my own actions, rather than being notified. The first seems discourteous to say the least, the second to be shifting responsibility verging on criminality.
A number of further points arise.
• When I present my vehicle for a test, if it fails and I have to present for a retest involving lifting equipment, I have to pay a fee. But in this instance the test equipment itself has failed. Should a retest fee not then be paid to me on the basis of equity of treatment? And why should my vehicle be marked as a fail when it has passed everything tested?
• I am expected to make an additional journey (in my case a minimum round trip of 80 miles) in order to complete the test through no fault of mine – this in a system where we are supposed to be reducing polluting emissions. Who is responsible for paying for the additional time and expense involved? I submit it should not be me.
• I understand that the vehicle lifts in question should have been replaced 10 years ago on the basis of their expected life.
Is the testing organisation guilty of breach of contract both to me and to the State, to both of whom it is under contract?
• What is my insurance status if (as seems likely) the situation is not rectified by the end of this month when the NCT of my vehicle becomes due?
The current NCT system appears to be short of capacity (witness when I tried to book my test at the beginning of January I could not book in either of my closest NCT stations in Killarney and Skibbereen, which were booked till the end of March, and had to travel an additional 30 miles round trip to Tralee). Therefore it seems unlikely that it will be able to cope with both the backlog of testing engendered by the current situation and the ongoing testing programme. I have two suggestions to help with the problem:
• Vehicles (like mine) which have passed the partial test should be issued with an NCT disc for (say) six months – by post if necessary, and in a different colour if desired. This will give time for the test to be completed sensibly – at no cost (including expenses) to the vehicle owner.
• The existing network of CVRT stations should be subcontracted to complete NCT tests to relieve the shortfall. These stations are fully equipped and have personnel trained to complete the tests. The government could insist that this be done by the existing contractor as a condition of it retaining the contract for the remainder of its time and being considered in the renewal process. Again this should be at no cost to the affected vehicle owners or to the State.
The whole situation shows the danger of allowing a monopoly to take control of an activity.
John P Lucas,