Caveat statement: I took some time to consider writing this particular post. I asked myself if it would do more damage than good. But then I concluded that if someone, just ONE person, had shared with me what I know now, I might have been spared this bad experience and saved a ton of money before signing up with this particular school.
I have officially pulled out of driving school and taking some time to consider if it is at all necessary for me to continue pursuing a driving license. The school that I attended was ANWB – rijschool of Utrecht. ANWB [Algemene Nederlandsche Wielrijders – Bond] is a highly regarded auto-club. Many Dutch people hold a membership to this group for practical things like if your car should break down on the highway. In the US, we would consider this to be AAA. This is the reason why I chose this school. What could go wrong with a reputable institution such as this? Well, apparently, a lot.
As my lessons continued I found that there was very little help in making sure I knew the rules of the road. The focus was more on how I steer a car and use a blinker. Each lesson got more and more this way. So much so that I started to believe I couldn’t drive anymore. I even changed my instructor after one very difficult two-hour lesson. When I made the request for a change I specifically asked for someone who speaks English. I thought it would make the remaining few lessons I had easier. Translating and negotiating traffic circles are not easy when your instructor is yelling at you to do something with the wheel, the clutch, and the blinker!
When I got my new instructor it became instantly clear that he did not, in fact, speak English. He had a great personality, sure, but in the end he told me that I needed an additional 15 lessons! REALLY?!! I do not believe that my driving is so horrible that I need a full 25 lessons with this school! My husband concurred as he said to me, “Susan, I took that amount to get my driving license as a new driver!” We did some checking and email writing. Seems we are not alone in our dissatisfaction. To their credit, they did refund a few of the lessons to us because they realized their mistake with not providing an English-speaking instructor. Really it wasn’t the English I needed but a better instructor. The first one sat reclined in his chair the whole lesson while critiquing me. It was a testing environment , not a learning one. This instructor did make a point to say to me that he does not like experienced drivers.
Recently I was talking to another experienced driver who went through the same at this school. I believe the model for this driving school is targeted at new drivers. They will gladly accept experienced drivers. However, in order for them to work with you, they will reduce you down to a new driver level and happily, take your money. They can pull this off by using the guise of a guaranteed pass on the driving exam in their contract. “In order to guarantee your success we need to have an additional 15 lessons.” What happens if at the end of that amount I’m still not ready under their “assessment”. I feel as though I’ve been a part of a big money scam. Wouldn’t you?
Here’s is my advice if you are in the market for driving lessons:
- Do your homework! Admittedly, I failed to do the necessary research before signing up.
- Ask friends for recommendations. Ask about their experience also!
- Go to each school and take their proefles (test drive).
- Find out if they have English-speaking trainers if that is necessary for you.
- Ask if they work with experienced drivers often and what is the success rate of those drivers.
- See what they offer.
- Then decide.
After this experience I’ve received one bit of advice about going with small local one-guy company. I’ve also been told that the bigger companies are more likely to do these kinds of things. Take this with a grain of salt. Each person’s experiences are usually not a like. In the future, if I decide to go again, I will follow my advice. Unfortunately this time out I was enticed by a packaged offer with the guarantee to pass and a well-known name. This experience reminds me once again, “I’m not in Kansas anymore!”