back to article DVLA website GOES TITSUP on day paper car tax discs retire

The government's rebuilt Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website went titsup last night after failing to cope with demand for its service as thousands of drivers rushed to renew their car tax. Car owners clogged up the site, after the more-than-90-year-old paper tax disc was retired today. We are currently …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GDS...

    came to mind before I even knew who built the Car Tax ^H^H^H Vehicle Excise Duty payment site. Silly me for even doubting...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: GDS...

      "We are currently experiencing high volumes of traffic to our online vehicle tax service"

      Probably it runs Linux, has been hacked, and is currently serving up phishing attacks and SPAM with most of it's bandwidth....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: GDS...

        "Probably it runs Linux, has been hacked, and is currently serving up phishing attacks and SPAM with most of it's bandwidth...."

        But Linux is wonderful, nobody would ever hack it. Probably unavailable because it's otherwise busy with restoring sight to the blind and making the lame walk

      2. WonkoTheSane Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: GDS...

        "Probably it runs Linux, has been hacked, and is currently serving up phishing attacks and SPAM with most of it's bandwidth...."

        UK.gov runs Windows, always has, always will (as long as the brown envelopes keep arriving from Redmond)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: GDS...

          "UK.gov runs Windows, always has, always will"

          I'm working on a major UK.gov project right now, and it's Redhat all the way

          1. phil dude
            Linux

            Re: GDS...

            Nice to see the Windoze fans are bravely anonymous. Here's a penguin for you chaps, even if it is a *little* bashed...

            P.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: GDS...

          "UK.gov runs Windows, always has"

          Apparently only when it matters. This is on Linux as per Netcraft.

      3. Fungus Bob Silver badge

        Re: GDS...

        "Probably it runs Linux..."

        Probably was designed by the goobs that did the healthcare.gov website on this side of the pond.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. ukgnome

    We are currently experiencing high volumes of traffic to our online vehicle tax service

    And they say the government don't have a sense of humour

  4. Alister Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Jesus-H-Christ-on-a-bike ('cos he can't tax his car) what did they think was going to happen?

    Everything they touch is under-specc'd, underfunded, and under-planned. It was just so, so, obvious that this was going to happen...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      don't forget

      over-budget and managed by those who are over-paid.

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: don't forget

        over-budget and miss-managed by those who are over-paid.

        FTFY

  5. John70

    Beta Testing

    "Clearly, the rebuilt DVLA site wasn't ready for showtime today, so questions have to be asked about why the GOV.UK team waved the wobbly beta website through."

    The users are the beta testers.

    1. Velv Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Beta Testing

      There was a link on the page to the "old site". The old site was broken too. DOUBLE FAIL

  6. Timbo

    Worked for me....

    ...but then when I went to the DVLA website (yesterday early afternoon), I chose to use the original site, rather than the "Beta" site, as I didn't want my "transaction" to fail due to some issue or other that might not have been found yet.

    As it happens, it all went very well and within a few mins I was all done :)

    Clearly, it seems that whoever designed the "back end" didn't properly load test it.

    And I wonder how many Dept of Transport people are out in the field today with ANPR systems, hoping to catch a few tax dodgers.....!!

    1. D Moss Esq

      Re: Worked for me....

      Are you trying to suggest that because the site worked for you yesterday it isn't really down today?

    2. D Moss Esq

      Re: Worked for me....

      Renew-a-tax-disc always has worked really well, ever since the web facility was introduced in 2006, eight years ago, five years before GDS sprang into existence.

  7. Malcolm 1

    It may be unpopular to state but I renewed my car tax on Monday via the "beta" website and it was flawless. Easy, quick and painless (apart from the brief pain in the wallet of course).

    1. Tatsky

      I concur

      I renewed my car tax on Monday without any issues.

      I think this is more a case of people leaving renewal until the last possible moment, and then getting upset that the system has been cripped by tens of thousands of people who have also left it till the last possible moment.

      You can renew your car tax for up to 4 weeks before the renewal date, so there is no excuse for leaving it till the last day.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. VinceH

        Re: I concur

        "You can renew your car tax for up to 4 weeks before the renewal date, so there is no excuse for leaving it till the last day."

        How about people who don't have the money to pay for it until the last day?

        Or people who are human, and do crazy stuff like forget?

        FTR, I forgot - until I read this. (But luckily, my car will be parked on a driveway for another week). I shall [try to] deal with it now.

        Edit: And now it's done.

        1. JohnMurray

          Re: I concur

          But the 14-day rule only applies if the application is made before the previous tax expires.

          Note also that the vehicle tax expires automatically on the sale of the vehicle now, a refund of unused tax will be sent to the seller and the buyer will have to re-tax it!

      3. Lost in Cyberspace

        Re: I concur

        Many people get paid at the end of the month. You get the reminder about a week to 10 days in to the month. And there's very little incentive to pay the gov any earlier than you need to, particularly if the whole amount is going on a card. I don't think it's that unreasonable to be able to pay the day before you really have to.

        1. Gordon 11

          Re: I concur

          You get the reminder about a week to 10 days in to the month.
          I think it was earlier than that when you needed to have physical tax disc posted to you.
          And there's very little incentive to pay the gov any earlier than you need to, particularly if the whole amount is going on a card.
          If it's going on a card, and you pay the card off each month, then you might as well pay it the first day of "next month's" bill, rather than wait.

          1. Isendel Steel

            Re: I concur

            except they take a little extra for paying with credit card...

        2. Ben Norris

          Re: I concur

          Aside from people should budget not live from paycheck to paycheck, how many people are paying for 6 months or a year tax out of one months salary? The incentive to pay early is that you save yourself a massive headache waiting in a queue with all the latards or avoid the fine if for any reason you are prevented from paying on that last day.

      4. IsJustabloke

        Re: I concur

        I've never had a problem renewing online either but then I always wait until a few days after teh renewal date before I renew.

        I like to live dangerously......

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: wait until a few days after teh renewal date

          Surely that's legal, you get charged for the whole month even if you pay on the 30th, so it must be back--dated...

          1. VinceH

            Re: wait until a few days after teh renewal date

            The problem is if something happens before you do that (late) renewal - for example, if you're in an accident. At that point, you have been driving the vehicle illegally, even if you intended to renew the following day (or even later that same day).

      5. Badvok
        WTF?

        Re: I concur

        "You can renew your car tax for up to 4 weeks before the renewal date, so there is no excuse for leaving it till the last day."

        WTF? I can't believe there are people who would actually want to pay tax early! I always leave it until the last day, I want the interest, I don't see why the government should have it.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Dangermouse 1
    Unhappy

    Seems to be working again. Or maybe I just got lucky.

    Anyone notice the stealth ripoff with the new rules? If you buy a new car, you have to tax it even if it already is taxed by the previous owner. And the PO doesn't get a refund for partial months of tax remaining.

    1. PsychicMonkey
      Stop

      not true, it's the same as it is now. You get a refund for the remaining (full) months, and you have to tax for the whole month even if you buy it on the last day, it's always been a rip off. Only now it's digital.

      1. tony

        "not true, it's the same as it is now"

        No, the difference is that now if I were to buy your car taxed up till end of oct then I'd have to sort out tax from 1st nov and you would factor that into the selling price.

        Now I have to buy the tax from 1st Oct and you'd have a piece of virtual paper costing £x but worth zero for the partial month of October. So for quite a lot of transactions they'll be two people paying for the same month for the same vehicle...

      2. Boothy

        The difference is you now loose the current month, that has already been paid for.

        i.e.

        1) Person A is selling a car and it is currently taxed to the end of the month.

        2) Person B is buying the car.

        Old way:

        'A' can't claim the partial month back.

        But the car remains taxed to the end of the month.

        Person 'B', once sorting insurance out, could happily drive off, and worry about ordering a new tax disk before the end of the month.

        New way:

        'A' still can't claim back, as it's a partial month, so no change there.

        But now the current months tax is not transferred to the new owner, so is effectively scrapped.

        This means 'B' now has an untaxed car, despite 'A' already paying for this month.

        So 'B' now has to re-tax the car immediately to be legal.

        Therefore the DVLA get paid twice now for any month where the car changes ownership.

        While I can understand to some extent not transferring the full month over, (as the tax payment would still be in other old owners name, not the new), they should keep the partial month on record, to give the new owner time to sort things out!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        " it's the same as it is now. "

        Exactly, and that's the problem. The blithering idiots have merely abolished the process of sending out a bit of paper to be stuck on windscreens ignoring the fact that road tax should just be included in fuel duty. That's far harder to evade, easier and cheaper to collect (and operates on a less painful PAYG level for the victims).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The road tax won't go...yet

          ".....ignoring the fact that road tax should just be included in fuel duty."

          As the car's get more efficient, electrics get more popular, then tax collection drops. So they need some sort of permanent tax to screw everyone over equally.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The road tax won't go...yet

            "As the car's get more efficient, electrics get more popular, then tax collection drops. So they need some sort of permanent tax to screw everyone over equally."

            On fuel efficiency they simply adjust the bands, as they currently do, so no requirement there. And EVs currently get a £5k cash subsidy up front, and exemption from CO2 rated excise levy (despite the CO2 emitted by power stations on their behalf). The longer term plan by the bureaucrats is "road pricing", which will be another opportunity to tax mobility for the simple reason that they can.

            Rolling another £6bn onto fuel duty would have been far more sensible. The whole ranking of excise duty was always a pointless waste of time, because fuel duty is automatically weighted towards higher fuel users, so larger vehicles, those who drive more, those who drive in congested conditions, those whose driving style is lead-booted.

          2. g e

            Re: The road tax won't go...yet

            @lostallfaith - was thinking about this on the way back from lunch...

            Seeing as tax is ostensibly emissions-based now, then when everyone has low emissions vehicles what are they gonna lie about the reason being for next?

            It'd be a wonderful experiment (dream) for someone with Larry Ellison levels of cash to buy everyone a 0-emissions car in the UK just to shit the gov't up.

          3. Van

            Re: The road tax won't go...yet

            Plenty of people are screwing the system by altering the exhaust system on their cars, potentially upping the emissions. The whole system is null and void until the lucrative business of MOT testing can't do favours to their valued customers with modified cars.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The road tax won't go...yet

              "Plenty of people are screwing the system by altering the exhaust system on their cars, potentially upping the emissions"

              Then you would fail the MOT emissions test.

          4. jonathanb Silver badge

            Re: The road tax won't go...yet

            Except that my fuel efficient car has £0 road tax, so I just need to remember to complete the online form every year.

          5. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. DaLo

              Re: The road tax won't go...yet

              "You know the electric and hybrid cars pay £0 VED, right?"

              Today, while they are a niche, they do.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          That's far harder to evade, easier and cheaper to collect

          Yes, as I'm sure the petrol stations around here who have had to close because the number of "bilkers" increased and took their scant profits away can attest to

        3. fridaynightsmoke

          @Ledswinger

          I agree that VED is now mostly another fuel duty levied on how much fuel they reckon you ought to use, and could be replaced with a hike in actual fuel duty. There are of course arguments one could have about how that may affect different drivers differently.

          I think that these days VED serves largely to enforce the registration system itself; it's a guaranteed obligation linked to the Registered Keeper, as opposed to possible obligations like speeding tickets etc. Maybe they think it's worth keeping purely as a stick to prod people into keeping the DVLA's records up to date.

        4. Lost in Cyberspace

          Re:

          Agreed, The tax should be included in the fuel duty instead. But it's a way of keeping tabs on the owners but forcing contact with the DVLA at least once a year.

          Scrap road tax, and just force a Statutory off/on road notification once a year instead.

        5. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          @Ledswinger..... Politics.

          It's obviously a much saner and logical solution, would be far cheaper, and would also then include foreign drivers, and not penalise those that have cars only for emergencies.

          It would also encourage 'green' use, as currently people may be more inclined to use their cars due to having 'paid anyway'.

          But, government jobs down in Swansea would be affected, and that means votes.

          When the government talks about efficiency and savings in spending, they really mean focus on the disabled and ill.

          1. Swiss Anton

            Votes - not a concern

            I doubt if posh boy gives two figs for those living in Swansea. You have to go back over 90 years for the last time they voted for any other than Labour, and then it was for a Liberal.

            1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

              Re: Votes - not a concern

              "I doubt if posh boy gives two figs for those living in Swansea. You have to go back over 90 years for the last time they voted for any other than Labour, and then it was for a Liberal."

              I'm actually born and bred and live in Swansea, and I agree with you totally.

              But government departments are generally well protected, as if one goes down, they all protest, and there is a political effect. It's why there are so many bloated departments out there.

              Also, departments are generally run by their mates. Jobs for the boys, cronieism etc

        6. my fingers stuck

          it's the same as it is now

          in France road tax has been abolished and is now part of fuel tax, works very well indeed, no need for a large overpaid and bungling gov department, and no one escapes, as a byline, tv licence fees are included in council tax. those damn clever frenchies

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: it's the same as it is now

            Great approach. On that basis we should add the cost of middle east anti-terrorist operations as a tax on hijabs and burkas...

      4. Roland6 Silver badge

        "not true, it's the same as it is now."

        Not quite true!

        The new system (should) automatically refund the "unused tax" when the seller sends in their V5C to DVLC, previously you had to send in two sets of forms: V5C and V14.

        The unsatisfactory part of the change is the whole transfer of ownership piece; the V5C still has to be posted to DVLC and their service guarantee is for a new V5C to be issued 2~4 weeks after they received the V5C from the seller. It seems that the only way for a new 'keeper' to tax a newly acquired vehicle is in person at a post office. However, this ignores why the car is kept, obviously when I drive the car away from the seller it is still legally taxed (until the end of the day on which the transaction occurred) however I cannot legally keep it parked on the road for several days until I get round to visiting a post office (which will be a city centre one which will require me getting the car out to drive to it...)

        Tellingly, the DVLC website gives very few details around this side of the change and hence I suspect it wasn't totally thought through; if the DVLC website is to be believed, I don't need to produce a valid insurance certificate if applying at the post office...

    2. DaLo

      In teh new system a car can't be sold with remaining tax but the current owner will get any full months of tax back the same as before. However it will now be refunded automatically upon the DVLA receiving the V5C showing a transfer of ownership/sorn/scrappage.

      The pain really is that you still can't go and view a car after 5:30, buy it and take it away legally (I would suggest many sales are after work) . You can easily arrange immediate insurance, but the MID will not be updated and you can't buy tax online unless you are the registered keeper - The only way is at a Post Office and most post offices shut at 5:30pm.

      It would be a lot more useful if the MID was updated within 30 minutes so you could then buy your tax and change owner details online, or if you were allowed 24hours grace (or even pay but get the details verified within 24 hours). Even allow purchase of tax via your insurance company in one phonecall/online transaction. Maybe you should be allowed to buy a one off 7/30 day temporary tax while the DVLA await your documents.

      The tax is for the car, so it doesn't matter how it is paid - all insurance and MOT are checked in the same ANPR hit anyway, so what difference does it make as long as it is registered as paid on that vehicle?

      1. Ashley Ward

        It doesn't seem to be any more onerous than the already existing requirement of having to buy insurance for the car you've just bought.

        You can tax the car online or on a 24hr phone line using a number off the new keeper supplement (so you can do that immediately) and, assuming the car was already insured, then even if the MID is a bit tardy at being updated it should still go through fine.

        I may have misunderstood the new process somewhere though.

        And as for the part-month thing, seriously - you're losing a few quid when you sell a car (which is probably only average about every 3 years) - it's not really a big deal.

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          @Ashley Ward, it's not really a big deal.

          Really? How many private car sales are there a month? The govmnt just grabbed themselves an extra months road tax off every one. It's a cynical attempt to weasel some more cash out of the plebs.

          If the car is taxed why should changing owner untax it?

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "The pain really is that you still can't go and view a car after 5:30, buy it and take it away legally"

        In the world that Govt. ministers and senior civil servants live in, new cars are delivered to the door every year and someone on staff handles dirty little things like VED and insurance.

    3. Telboy

      If you buy a new car, you have to tax it even if it already is taxed by the previous owner.

      The reason you have to tax the car when you buy it is to ensure that it is insured and has met the requirements for the MOT. They won't give you new tax until it passes those two tests. Under the old system you could happily drive around with no insurance or MOT. The ANPR camera would have to check three things, now they only have to check for tax. QFS if you think about it.

      1. DaLo

        Re: If you buy a new car, you have to tax it even if it already is taxed by the previous owner.

        "The ANPR camera would have to check three things, now they only have to check for tax."

        Sorry but you are wrong. It is no real effort for an electronic system to check three things, but also it is possible to tax a car with 1 month MOT remaining and 1 month Insurance (or cancel the insurance after a month, or stop paying it).

        The ANPR still has to check all three things (and still does) so there is no longer any sensible requirement for tying the Tax into having an MOT or Insurance. The tax should be able to be purchase for the car in question by anyone (not just the registered keeper) and start on the day you purchase it and end exactly 1 year later (for 12 month tax) rather than at the beginning and end of whole calendar months. No requirement for the V5C and no waiting for the MID to update.

        Insurance managers to insure from an exact time on an exact day.

  9. fridaynightsmoke
    WTF?

    I don't understand

    Nothing has changed in how you pay Road Tax, there's exactly the same online, phone and Post Office options as before. Everyone whose tax expired last night got a reminder in the post around a month ago, as normal. All that's changed (excepting private sales of used cars) is that they don't send you a disc any more, and if you already have one you can take it out of the windscreen today, if you want.

    So why has every man and his dog rushed to the website today? Is it vaguely curious types who haven't seen anything in the news about it until today, or people saving up to 20p in bank interest by not taxing their car until it's actually overdue by one day?

    1. EssEll
      FAIL

      Re: I don't understand

      Amen, brother.

      Some (but not all) of the fault for this FUBAR has to be borne by the (let's be generous) 'people' who waited until the last minute before trying to renew their VED. Anyone who's been to a Post Office on the last day of any month will know not to leave it until then.

      But it does look like the NFRs either weren't properly specified, or tested. Or if they were, that failings were just waived through. Take your pick, but no-one comes out of this whiter than white.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: I don't understand

        Weren't there new payment methods only available from today - so if you wanted to move to DD (for instance) you couldn't do it in advance.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I don't understand

          I taxed mine on 16th September as I don't normally do it "last minute"

          same as I buy diesel before hitting the motorway if I know i'll be running low before I get to my destination and avoid the 10p per litre "motorway services tax"

          some motorists want it all so easy

    2. Kerry Hoskin

      Re: I don't understand

      yep we've just been saying the same in our office. BUT DVLA should have guessed that a lot of stupid people would come to the conclusion that how you renew your tax must be changing given that the disc is going and there has been a lot in the media about it so might have sort of expect this spike.

      Saying that I don't have any sympathy for clowns like this (quote from the BBC)

      Mike Dewsbury from Manchester was one of those who struggled to pay for his car tax - known officially as Vehicle Excise Duty (VED).

      "It's a joke. I need to get to work but legally can't because my car isn't now taxed," he told the BBC.

      I'll tell you what you're the joke for waiting until the last day to renew you t*$t

      1. Ilmarinen

        Re: I don't understand

        No you don't understand.

        Govt demands money from punter in the form of car tax. Govt should make it possible for punter to actually pay said money at any time - not just only days or weeks before it's due.

        In most normal transactions you pays your money and gets the goods or services - why should HMG be different (other than usual incompetence)?

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I don't understand

      "So why has every man and his dog rushed to the website today? Is it vaguely curious types who haven't seen anything in the news about it until today, or people saving up to 20p in bank interest by not taxing their car until it's actually overdue by one day?"

      1. Never do today what you can put off doing until tomorrow.

      2. Never pay today what you can put of paying until tomorrow.

      3. With big fleet owners those 20ps add up. Big companies will have bean counters who can do that addition especially where takes are concerned; if you haven't noticed that you haven't been paying attention recently.

      Under the old system people will have allowed a little time to allow the disk to be delivered, now they don't so all those factors come into play. Even under the old system it seems unlikely that renewals would have been distributed anywhere evenly over the month which should have been something of a warning.

      I'm sure there must have been someone on the project who worked all this out & probably pointed it out or asked how to scale up for such a peak. And I'm even more sure that the reward would have been to an accusation of being negative.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hardly rocket science

    So why, when we've been getting our tax disk on line for years, is it so difficult to handle this change? Why too does car tax have to start on the first of the month? If the tax started at any time they wouldn't have so many customers at the same time.

    1. Malcolm 1

      Re: Hardly rocket science

      You can (and pretty much always have been able to) renew your tax in advance of the expiry date - I don't really understand why this month is any different from that perspective.

      As far as tax starting on the first of the month - I can see how this made sense in the age of the multi-coloured paper-based tax disc, but under the new regime it seems unnecessary. Maybe it will transition to this in the future once the populace has got used to the idea of no paper tax discs,

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hardly rocket science

        The problem will be if they allow starting from when you need it, then it does away with the monthly catchments argument. Whereas the way they have it now, eg, starting midway through the month means you still pay for the whole of the month, PLUS refunds only for whole months remaining, means they are going to be gaining more money.

        Even if it is only 10% of the payments they end up making, it is still 10% on millions.

        I suspect it is a lot more.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hardly rocket science

          "Even if it is only 10% of the payments they end up making, it is still 10% on millions. I suspect it is a lot more."

          Vehicle excise duty totals around £6bn this year, so all those part months most certainly will add up. If a quarter of all vehicles get traded each year, then that's £1.5bn of duty, if you can do a double take for only 5% of the annual total then that's a £75m stealth tax.

          1. Billa Bong

            Re: Hardly rocket science

            Nooo, I think not. The partial months kept will only be a single month of the duty (1/12th) in profit for each car sale (from the start to the sale date for the buyer, and from the sale date to the end for the seller), so if total yearly was 6bn and a quarter of cars were traded that's about £125m in this "double take" duty.

            Plus they have to pay the people to process the transfer for ownership, etc. Since it costs nothing to change ownership of the vehicle itself, the admin costs in processing V5's (or whatever they're called) has to be taken from somewhere... You could call the extra month that they take a "stamp duty" on car sales to pay for that admin.

            But despite this I still think the whole duty calculation and collection isn't right. I'd rather see an increase on fuel and road tolls than have a set price to pay irrespective of actual use.

      2. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Hardly rocket science

        People who didn't tax their car on-line before because they didn't trust Royal Mail to deliver the tax disk no longer have that as a reason not to do it on-line.

  11. Otto is a bear.

    Why wait?

    Provided you are insured and MOT, you can pay up to 2 weeks in advance. Oh wait, you need to wait for pay day.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Why wait?

      Well, yes.

      Did mine on the old site a couple of weeks ago. Who waits for the last minute to buy a new disc?

      1. Peter Storm

        Re: Why wait?

        "Who waits for the last minute to buy a new disc" Me, when I notice it's the first day of the month and suddenly think "Shit! I haven't taxed the bloody car yet".

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Why wait?

          > Me, when I notice it's the first day of the month and suddenly think "Shit! I haven't taxed the bloody car yet"

          And I bet the only reason why you noticed was seeing the tax disc on the windscreen (by seeing, I mean you only needed to glance at the back of the tax disc holder to be reminded of the car tax...) I foresee a lot of people will be getting fined for late payment because there is no longer a visual reminder on the windscreen.

          Not having to tax my car this month I don't know if DVLC are still issuing "tax discs". When I taxed my car from 1st-Sept, DVLC had run out of official tax discs and printed (inkjet) tax disc on a letter explaining that I could cut out this facsimile and display it in my tax disc holder until 1-Oct.

          Hence I see no reason why DVLC can't as part of their online receipt, provide a "tax disc" that can be printed off and used as an aide mémoire.

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: Why wait?

            Dunno about everyone else, but they invariably send me a reminder three weeks in advance of the old ticket expiring. Has that broken too now?

  12. Robert E A Harvey

    Why it got waved through....

    ... Because the government are a mental bunch of useless twats? Who couldn't point to a horse's arse even while holding a copy of 'start at the tail' by Desmond Morris?

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Why it got waved through....

      And the really neat thing is that your comment would apply to anything the government did. It's a kind of universal political commentary.

  13. Martin
    WTF?

    A little common sense is called for...

    So, from this month, you have to do your road tax by computer rather than join the queue at the post office.

    You've been sent a reminder about two weeks ago. You can log on and do it any time between getting the reminder and the end of the month.

    It's going to be a new system - there are likely to be teething problems, and there are also likely to be more people on it.

    So why, for the love of Mike, would you leave it until the last possible day?

    1. Jason 24

      Re: A little common sense is called for...

      "So why, for the love of Mike, would you leave it until the last possible day?"

      I thought this was SOP for any software release testing.... It is round here anyway.

    2. Boothy

      Re: A little common sense is called for...

      Quote: "So, from this month, you have to do your road tax by computer rather than join the queue at the post office."

      You can still pay via the Post Office (assuming you can find one!).

      You just won't be given a disk any more.

    3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: A little common sense is called for... @Martin

      You can still queue up at the Post Office. They will take your money however you want to pay it, and inform the DVLA (they've had a direct route to the DVLA for many years). The only difference is that you won't get a round piece of paper to put in your car!

      I too don't understand. The old site (which I did some work on the backend servers for some years ago) coped very well. The rate of transactions is quite predictable. Whilst there is normally a surge at the end/beginning of the month, it should not be that different with the new system.

      Sounds like there is some misinformation flying around here.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: A little common sense is called for... @Martin

        > it should not be that different with the new system.

        Well yes, the old system was sized and so was probably over capacity for most of the month. The new system probably used that very in concept called "elastic" or "CPU on demand". The trouble is that elastic works well for gradual growth in load not for sudden large surges in demand, particularly if there isn't sufficient pre-primed spare capacity idling in the wings.

    4. Alister Silver badge

      Re: A little common sense is called for...

      So why, for the love of Mike, would you leave it until the last possible day?

      Ok so I haven't taxed my car this month, I did it last month. But, I did it on the first of the month, because I don't get paid until the last day of the month, and I can't afford to tax the car until I get paid. I suspect an awful lot of other people are in the same situation.

      Does that answer your question?

  14. mccp

    Abolish it

    As VED bands are organised so that it is cheaper for more fuel efficient cars, there seems to be absolutely no reason why there can't be a VED element to the tax on fuel.

    Try evading that.

    I suppose there would no longer be jobs for people tasked with creating hopeless online services that conk out at the first sign of load; or for those who make money flogging ANPR cameras and software to look up and flag evaders.

    In France, you pay to register a car in the first place, then the only recurring cost is fuel and insurance (and an MOT every 2 years from 4 years old). Fuel is cheaper than the UK, roads generally in better repair. Figure that out.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        Re: Abolish it

        We should absolutely follow the Jersey system. To me it's more important to know that someone is insured than they've paid their road tax as the scum who don't insure are likely the ones who will leave you for dead at the roadside after crashing into you. They are much more easily weeded out and reported by other drivers if they didn't have a valid insurance disc in their window. Of course as usual the government are putting the emphasis on making sure they get paid rather than people's safety.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Abolish it

          The same ANPR systems that the Police use to detect untaxed vehicles on the road is also used to detect that an uninsured vehicle is on the road.

          It is now illegal (and has been for a couple of years) to have an uninsured vehicle on the road, even if it is parked and not being driven.

          So we have the strange situation where an untaxed or uninsured vehicle must be stored off the road, but at the moment, a taxed and insured vehicle without MOT can be parked on the road, but must not be driven.

          I'm sure they will fix this deficiency at some point.

          1. Down not across Silver badge

            Re: Abolish it

            So we have the strange situation where an untaxed or uninsured vehicle must be stored off the road, but at the moment, a taxed and insured vehicle without MOT can be parked on the road, but must not be driven.

            I'm sure they will fix this deficiency at some point.

            Well, that will only work until tax expires as you need valid MOT to be able to tax the vehicle.

            1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              Re: Abolish it @Down not across

              As soon as the tax runs out, then it becomes an offence to store the car on the road, obviously. The car is no longer taxed so you fail the "a taxed and insured vehicle" test!

              That does not alter the fact that it's an anomaly. I don't understand why of the three things you need to legally drive a car on the road, they've not made it a requirement to have an MOT in order to keep it on the public highway. It's just inconsistent.

              1. Justicesays

                Re: Abolish it @Down not across

                In case you wanted to drive to the test centre?

                -----------

                If your MOT has expired

                You can’t drive your vehicle on the road if the MOT’s expired. You could be prosecuted if caught.

                The only exception is if you’ve already booked an MOT and are driving your vehicle to the test centre

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Abolish it

          Just as there were fake / photocopy tax disks, there would be insurance fraud.

          at least ANPR checks on the day.

          Does no one remember getting their MOT to run out 2 months after the Tax so you can retax, drive for a year in a non roadworthy car before you needed fix it again?

  15. IHateWearingATie

    A defence of DVLA

    - You are the DVLA CIO...

    - You are pretty sure about the normal loads that your car tax website will get in normal periods throughout the year, as you have been running the old website for a while.

    - You have a fixed budget.

    - Your 'customers' HAVE to use your service to tax their car on pain of fines etc.

    - You have a change to the service which in theory means the only difference for the average punter is they don't get to change the paper disc displayed in their window. However, you expect this is going to mean a rush on 1st October - but you don't really know how bad its going to be.

    - You have a fixed budget.

    - Building temporary load balancing capacity in for the beginning of the month will cost extra. You don't know how much extra you will need and for how long, as this is well outside normal operations.

    - You have a fixed budget.

    Given this, trading a bit of 'customer' pain and a brief moment of bad publicity for a cash saving on the load balancing and temporary capacity doesn't seem that bad an approach from their point of view.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: A defence of DVLA

      "- You have a change to the service which in theory means the only difference for the average punter is they don't get to change the paper disc displayed in their window. "

      In which case you weren't thinking of it from the punter's point of view. Previously the punter had to renew in advance to allow for postage and those "in advances" varied sufficiently to spread the load over a reasonable part of the month. Now the punter doesn't have to so his behaviour changes; if he doesn't have to very likely won't. Even under the old system you probably saw that the normal load actually varied and was higher in the last half of the month. You should have realised that that monthly peak is now going to come in a couple of days at the turn of the month.

  16. rxraine

    Unprecedented?

    Maybe, but surely entirely predictable? Must be trivial indeed to work out how many vehicles don't have a current licence or are SORN? One database query?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They know exactly how many tax discs run out on 30th September, and how many of them had already been renewed. So it shouldn't really be too hard to estimate how many people were going to try and renew them on 30th September.

  18. TechicallyConfused
    Holmes

    Why this isn't suprising

    Because it just isn't. Failure to predict the bleeding obvious is part and parcel of any government IT initiative.

    The only thing that would surprise me about this would be to discover that the site and systems running this service WERE NOT being provided and managed by Capita.

    I'm not sure which of the current stock of Outsourced Highwaymen owns this, can anyone educate me?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why this isn't suprising

      I could tell you who's behind this, but my bosses wouldn't be too happy. However I can suprise you by saying that we are not Capita.

      1. TechicallyConfused

        Re: Why this isn't suprising

        No one is more shocked by that than me.

  19. gerryg

    learning from history (not)

    In 2011 one of those think tanks published a study for digital government "System+Error" lots of hoopla and government support at the time

    In "making the case for change" the report begins by highlighting online vehicle road tax as an example of successful IT. Unfortunately on the day the study was published the DVLA site was "down for essential maintenance" screenshot for posterity.

    More here

  20. Frankee Llonnygog

    Why the GOV.UK team waved the wobbly beta website through

    They used up the load testing budget on web fonts and mindfulness webinars

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WHAT?

    When was the retirement of the tax disc announced? I have seen/heard nothing on the news, Internet, papers or from the DVLA themselves.

    Some info here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/vehicle-tax-changes

    So no longer can a car/motorcycle be simply eyeballed by a cop, it needs to be checked IN TEH CLOWDS (or whatever).

    I wonder how they'll deal with me seeing as all my license plates had accidents with hammers. Right on the RFID chips. Dreadful mishaps, so they were.

  22. D Moss Esq

    "Transparency is the bedrock of change"

    ... that's what Oliver Morley said the other day. He's the Chief Executive of DVLA and he should know. What users are experiencing now is not an outage. It's a bedrock.

    Further, as you know, the great virtue of using the cloud is that capacity expands instantly to meet demand. As demonstrated in this case.

    Who runs taxdisc.service.gov.uk? NSLookup says the IP address is 62.25.101.198. And RIPE says that belongs to Energis UK in Watford.

  23. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    I warned about the govenment 'double charging' tax on car sales months ago.

    They could have left the system *exactly* as it was before and simply not printed/sent out the discs - it would have saved the same amount of money - so why didn't they? Because they could grab more hidden taxes! Last estimates on used car sales says that there will be about £10,000,000 extra trawled into government coffers because of this single change!

    Money grabbing thieving barstewards doesn't even begine to describe them ...

  24. Lee D Silver badge

    Had the reminder through LAST WEEK.

    Renewed... LAST WEEK.

    Pressed the buttons, typed in the card, done. No problems.

    They obviously can't scale but NOTHING works on day one. Even Steam haven't managed to stay up through the first days of their big sales after many years of trying and substantial cloud-backed wallop on everything they touch.

    Reminds me of the tax-deadline when online filing came in. Everyone tried to do it on the last day. Don't. Do it before that. Your teacher wouldn't have accepted the excuse back in school.

    That said, technology fail - if you're going to move government services, they have to work. Whatever. Or at least go to a page with a phone number where you can have a human do it for you. You do NOT want to get in the situation where people can't legally drive because you can't take their money.

    1. VinceH

      "Reminds me of the tax-deadline when online filing came in. Everyone tried to do it on the last day. Don't. Do it before that. Your teacher wouldn't have accepted the excuse back in school."

      Or when the same happened with VAT - with the last date for submitting returns being 7 days after the old end of month deadline.

      Back near the start, I tried to submit a return for a client the day before the new deadline, and the server wasn't coping with the load - so I printed the error pages. Being kicked out when the office closed, I decided to take the figures home and submit from there - but my internet connection was down, and service wasn't restored until it was too late.

      Unsurprisingly, teacher - in this case HMRC - didn't accept the excuse, and hit the company with a charge.

      The subsequent tribunal, on the other hand, took an entirely different view, and described the situation as ludicrous - IIRC, the wording went something along the lines of "It's ludicrous that they are unable to predict and cope with the demand, and then fine the registrant for being unable to submit returns as a result."

      The bottom line is that it doesn't matter one jot if you can apply (or, in the case of tax/VAT returns, submit) one day, one week, two weeks, four weeks, whatever period before the deadline. The deadline is the deadline, and you are perfectly at liberty to leave it until then - and if their service can't cope, it's their fault, not yours.

      Although, as you say, teacher UKGov won't accept that as an excuse - possibly unless, as in my example, they are legally challenged. At which point, if it's a big enough cock up, they'll just legislate in their favour.

  25. NeverMindTheBullocks

    Missing the point

    Those pointing out how smart they were about renewing early etc are missing the point. The old system worked very well and had done so for number of years. Even if you left it to the last minute it was one of the few Gvt. services that could be relied on to work when you needed it.

    Whatever the fucktards at GDS did, they broke what was previously a perfectly good service.

  26. Gareth79

    I suspect a lot of the load is people who think they need to do something today, but actually don't.

    The media were all "the car tax system is changing 1st October and you could get a £1,000 fine!" so I expect there are people panicking over nothing.

  27. Irongut

    Unprecedented demand?

    Tax discs are renewed annually so surely DVLA know exactly what demand there is for renewals in specific day by day detail. Factor in some probably very accurate data about how many cars are sold in the UK each month, which DVLA should also have, and they should have a very, very accurate extimate of the demand on a day by day basis.

    Or did they not think to call on the decades of experience and data the organisation already holds? Oh right its a UK gov IT project so experience, knowledge and data have to take a back seat (if you're lucky) to expensive lunches, sexting random constituents and colourful icons.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Insurance ...

    Unfortunately, as long as the UK insurers fixate about *who* is driving a car, then ANPR is pretty useless as a tool for catching uninsured drivers. Unless it's combined with facial recognition software which links into the DVLA driver photograph.

    How many cars merrily whizz past the ANPR vans, flagging up as "insured" when in reality, because the driver isn't on the policy (for whatever reason) it isn't "insured" ?

  29. BoldMan

    > so questions have to be asked about why the GOV.UK team waved the wobbly beta website through.

    Because they are a bunch of morons with no clue how to do the internet?

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. ukgnome

    Now they have cocked this up

    Is anyone wanting to use the direct debit service that starts next month?

    1. Andrew Jones 2

      Re: Now they have cocked this up

      Yes,

      that's why when we renewed last month - we only did so for 6 months.

  32. graeme leggett

    connections

    Issuing a tax disc includes a check on the insurance database and MoT database - was there a problem there as well, or purely on the "customer-facing side"?

  33. fortyrunner

    Question is - do we really want GOV.UK to have a stupid amount of servers standing by for this sort of event? i.e. people waiting until the last minute and then whinging about performance?

    Ah... we could use the Cloud. And then another group of people would complain that Amazon/Google/Rackspace/MS had all their data in a location where the NSA could get at it.

    Far better to offer a small sliding scale financial incentive to sign up early so that people would naturally spread the load.

  34. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Something not entirely clear

    If you got your tax + disk near the end of September, do you still need to display it?

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Something not entirely clear

      You only needed to display a tax disc (real or fascimile) until midnight September 30th.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No tax disk

    excuse me to get all 1984 on you, we know where you are and we know where you have been (nprs/canera's),

    dog bless americtwats, it started in 1934 and here's the outcome

    stand alone and your nothing, stand together your an insurgent, muslim, racist, far right or just plain old conservative twat will kill us all.

    I;m going to build a cabin the woods and grow my own viagra, fok da police

    (unless you understand sarcasm then please fuck off)

  36. Ian Emery Silver badge
    FAIL

    I have a different problem

    (And one that probably affects a fair few other people as well).

    Having been overseas for a while, and my car off the road (just before SORN required valid insurance), I came back to the UK on New Years Eve and got my tax AND INSURANCE started for Jan 1st.

    Now, the system wont allow you to TAX your car if you do not have valid insurance on the day the tax disc starts; but equally, the insurance companies dont inform the DVLA of your NEW policy until 24-48 hours after it starts.

    In other words, I cant tax my car until Jan 4th at the earliest even though the old tax expires on Dec 31st.

    Now on the one hand, I am not supposed to drive my car during those 4 days, but equally, the buggers are going to have the MONEY for those 4 days anyway !!!

    Fail because... well, it was a GOVERNMENT website,they ALWAYS fall over when you really need them to work.

  37. Rastus

    The REAL reason...

    The real reason this failed is simple - a senior bureaucrat in charge of the project sets the launch date. If (s)he makes the launch date, (s)he gets a (significant) bonus. If (s)he misses the launch date, bye bye bonus. The system developers tell said bureaucrat that the system is not ready to go live and needs further work. I leave the rest to your imagination.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Check out their code

    You realise the DVLA is publishing code on Github? See https://github.com/dvla

    Looking at the projects they are generating RPMs (so targeting Redhat), then they seem to be using mainly Scala and Play, with some Java, ASP.NET, Ruby, and Python.

  39. roger stillick
    Go

    Bewildered in the USA, but Smiling...

    After reading thru 3 pages of comments, I get it... there is a tax on gas guzzlers for every day they are on the road 'In Their Entire Life'.

    Way to go !! wish we had this here in the USA (our 'gas guzzler' tax is added on,only once by the car manufactuer, at time of origional new vehicle sale)...so the USA ideal car is now a 350hp full-time 4wd Crossover SUV that has the gas mileage of a 3/4 ton V8 HD crew-cab pickup truck...and all is well with the American Driving public (we have cheap, road-taxed, gas).

    caveiat= this has been noted by American TV car shows that conclude the crew-cab PU is the better buy for a passenger hauling highway vehicle...RS.

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