Shomporko Online News Desk: Appointments for G2 and G driver’s tests at provincially licensed driving centers in Ontario are in high demand.
COVID-19 forced DriveTest to halt in-vehicle passenger road tests for several months. When the service reopened on June 14, students hurried to get a slot, resulting in a 700,000 test backlog.
Amid the sea of drivers wanting to get their license, Delano Anderson patiently awaits his turn.
“It’s been difficult,” the North York man told Global over Zoom. “I and my family have been talking about getting a car, and you can’t get a car without a license.”
Anderson’s license expired in 2019. When he checked for road test appointments in July, he said they were booking into November in areas almost an hour and a half away.
On Aug. 6, Global News accessed Ontario’s booking system at DriveTest.ca. The waiting queue to view available test dates was two hours and seven minutes. Afterward, an email verification was required and Global was placed in another waiting queue for almost two hours. The website then failed to redirect to available appointments.
The long wait times and connection issues are among issues Ontarians are speaking out about through Reddit. Some say they’re seeing bookings into 2024.
“I gave up,” Anderson said after his July search. Then he noticed something online.
He says he discovered that early appointments for road tests were being sold on Snapchat and Instagram. They’re on Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace too.
One seller told Global News over text message they can book an early spot for $100 plus tax. The payment would be made after a confirmation email was received.
A spot for Aug. 4 was going up for $300 — straight profit for the sellers, and cash that some customers appear to be willing to spend.
“It’s crazy. It was just really kind of bizarre to see that people on social media were able to find appointments and availabilities, but if you go on the government’s website or the driving centers, you’re not able to find anything,” said Anderson.
According to the Ontario Safety League (OSL), there are ongoing road test appointment scams where sellers have no intention of providing a test spot after receiving payment.
However, some say other sellers may be legitimate … and OSL says the way they obtain those tests is a national problem.
“Its fraudulent activity is undertaken by some of those who have access to the system,” said Brian Patterson, president, and CEO of OSL.
Patterson says some driving schools are using new student’s information without their consent to book road tests in mass — only to swap the dates with a customer later. The students may never even be aware tests were booked under their name.
“There are significant privacy issues involved … everybody should be entitled to fair access to the tests that are available, and corrupting the system is unfair to all Ontarians,” said Patterson.
Ryan Manilla, traffic and criminal defense lawyer with Legal Solutions Law Firm, says sellers who do this may land themselves a fraud charge if police can prove an infraction took place.
“They’re using somebody else’s identity without their knowledge or consent … that certainly is not permissible by law, ” said Manilla.
Still, there are other reports of sellers who are not affiliated with driving schools who are allegedly booking individual tests using their own information, and then canceling and swiftly rebooking when a customer comes along.
“My perspective is that if they’re filling invalid information for a legitimate person, that’s legal,” Manilla said, adding this may not always be the case depending on the circumstances.
“Technically, they are delivering a service.”
Buying an appointment is also not a crime, according to Manilla.