The Independent Motor Dealers Association (IMDA) says dealers are ‘pulling their hair out’ over the ‘nightmare’ DVLA strike.
Dubbing the situation ‘absolutely horrendous’, chairman Umesh Samani said dealerships were becoming ‘like graveyards’.
DVLA employees in the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) are currently midway through a month-long walk-out because of a long-running dispute over Covid safety at the agency’s Swansea head office.
Samani, who runs Specialist Cars in Stoke, says he understands the concerns of workers but has hit out at the DVLA.
He has accused the body of not providing dealers with the services they pay for and making it impossible to do their jobs fully.
The IMDA has received some reports from dealerships that are still waiting for V5 documents to be returned, having originally sent off for them in March.
Speaking exclusively to Car Dealer, Samani said: ‘It is absolutely horrendous and a complete nightmare for all the dealers, to be honest with you.
‘The online automated services are working great, which is a major benefit, but then the flip side of that is when you do have to manually send for the paperwork, cherished plates or V5s it is just so unpredictable.
‘I’ve got dealers telling me that they are still waiting for V5s from early March and when they phone up to speak to somebody, obviously they’re not being answered for days on end.
‘How are we supposed to continue selling cars to keep customers happy? It is just an impossible situation because sometimes there is just no way around it.
‘You do have to send off for things physically and then we’re in their hands really.’
He added: ‘How are we supposed to explain to a customer we can’t do the cherished plate on their car because it’s got to be sent off physically?
‘They ask when they can have the car and we have to say it could be next week, it could be two months or it could be three months or four.
‘It’s just absolutely crazy. I’m sure they’ve got their reasons for the strikes but the reality is they should be providing a service.
‘It is a business at the end of the day, it’s not as if it is free of charge, but the whole process has come to a standstill.’
The IMDA sees no end in sight, with Samani saying the organisation was like a ‘closed book’ when it came to getting answers.
‘We have tried in the past to try and have communications with them but trying to speak to the right person is virtually impossible.
‘It is a bit of a closed book to be honest with you.
‘We did manage to get three or four decent email addresses for the top people and even then they came back with just a blanket reply that they were going to look into it and come back with some answers.
‘Nobody wants to commit to anything – I think they are almost scared to say one thing or the other just in case someone says the wrong thing.
‘Currently, dealers are telling us they are trying to get through but they just get no answers.
‘They are pulling their hair out because they just don’t know what to do.’
A deal was reached towards the end of May that could have ended the dispute but it was scuppered by government ministers at the last minute without saying why, said the PCS.
According to the trade union, the dispute has left more than 660,000 driving licences awaiting any kind of action at DVLA.
In the drivers’ medical section alone, it reckons the backlog of work that hasn’t yet been actioned is more than 300,000, with thousands of items of post not even having been scanned in yet.
The PCS also says that DVLA management has reportedly left identity documents and cash from envelopes unsecured as staff are moved around to open post to avoid more criticism from ministers.
It added that volunteers from non-operational staff were being sought to open the huge backlog of mail but that’d mean volunteers’ work piling up, so the union is advising that members don’t volunteer.
Members are currently holding a ballot to decide on their next step when the strike ends on August 31.
A spokesman for the DVLA said earlier: ‘It is disappointing to see the Public and Commercial Services Union choosing to continue with industrial action and targeting services that will have the greatest negative impact on the public.
‘The safety of our staff is paramount and since the beginning of the year we have implemented weekly Covid testing for everyone.
‘Millions of people right across the UK are relying on essential DVLA services and PCS’s demands are causing significant and unnecessary disruption to families and businesses, all at a time when they are most needed.’