Trevor Laffan: How taxing... my car disc saga really drove me to distraction

When his new tax disc didn't turn up two weeks after applying for it, Trevor Laffan set about trying to find out what happened...
Trevor Laffan: How taxing... my car disc saga really drove me to distraction

OVER-HEATING: Basil Fawlty takes his frustration out on his car in a classic scene from the comedy Fawlty Towers.

I’M not a fan of night-time driving anymore. My eyesight isn’t as good as it once was and, even though I have glasses with anti-glare lenses, I still find it difficult driving against the lights of oncoming traffic. Especially on unlit roads when it’s raining.

I’m OK in my own locality where I’m familiar with the roads, but beyond that I’m a little uncomfortable.

I thought it was just me, but I’ve been discussing this with some friends lately, and many of them are having the same issue.

I’m not sure how we survived back in the day when there were no road markings and head-lights were like two small candles, but there were fewer cars on the road then too. Everyone took their time as well, so I suppose it was easier.

When I lived in Dublin in the early ’80s, it took time to get used to the way traffic kept going all night long. It never took a break, while in Cork city, the traffic eased around 2am and slept until about 6am. Then the city gradually began to wake up.

But that’s changed now, and Cork is constantly on the move too. Getting around isn’t easy, especially at rush hour when driving can be a pain.

Motoring for many has become a chore and nothing about driving is simple anymore.

Take taxing the car for example. I thought computerisation had made this process a lot less painful, but I was wrong.

In the old days, we went out to the County Hall and queued up for an eternity before handing over our paperwork to a frowning clerk sitting behind a glass screen. They all frowned and scowled back then while they inspected the forms for mistakes.

This was always a tense moment because if they found one, they sent you off to fill out the form properly and then you had to join the back of the queue again.

Happy in the belief that those days were long gone, I set about taxing my car for 2020. I sat smugly in the comfort of my recliner and went online with the Department of Transport in Shannon, Co. Clare. I clicked a few buttons, filled some boxes, gave my credit card details and pressed send.

I got a receipt by email soon after, and that was that. Job done.

Then I forgot about it for two weeks until it dawned on me that I never received my tax disc. Doubting myself, I went out and checked my windscreen and, sure enough, it wasn’t there. So, I sent off an email to the Department of Transport and told them my story, and this is the reply I received;

‘To date your tax disc has not been returned to our offices in Shannon by An Post. Your tax disc may have got lost in the post, you will need to apply for a duplicate.

“In some instances, it has been known to take up to 10 working days for motor tax disc to be delivered by An Post. Unfortunately, we are unable to issue a duplicate tax disc. This can only be done at your local Motor Tax Office. The procedure to get a duplicate Tax Disc is as follows:

“You must complete an RF134 form. On this form you must state that you didn’t receive your Tax Disc in the post after taxing online and this must be witnessed by a Garda. Bring or post this to your local Motor Tax Office and they will issue the duplicate tax disc to you.

“This procedure is the same if you had taxed your vehicle by post at your local Motor Tax Office and did not receive the disc in the post.

“The above procedure has to be followed in order to get duplicates for any official documents (tax disc, vehicle registration book, vehicle licensing certificate etc) that have been lost in the post.

“Apologies for the inconvenience caused.”

So, I contacted my local motor tax office in Cork and queried the procedure with the lady. I couldn’t see why I had to solve the problem when I had done nothing wrong. I had kept my part of the deal. I applied online and paid my fee, but I never got what I paid for. Not my fault.

I didn’t lose anything, but it was now my responsibility to go to a garda station, fill out the paperwork, get it signed by a garda, get an envelope, go to the post office, buy a stamp and post the letter back to the people who should have sent me the disc in the first place.

When I told her this, she assured me that she didn’t lose anything either and seemed annoyed that I should even be suggesting that her department might be to blame.

She stuck to her guns that An Post was at fault and if I wanted my disc I would have to follow the procedure as outlined.

So, I did as I was told, but I was still wondering where the original tax disc went. Was it sitting in a computer somewhere in Shannon begging to be freed from the machinery? Or was it languishing in a sorting office pining for its new owner?

I’d be surprised if An Post lost it because I’ve never failed to receive my post. In fact, I once got a letter addressed to Trevor Laffan, Ireland, so I have great faith in our postal service.

Before I could post my letter requesting a duplicate, my tax disc came through the letterbox. I don’t know when it was posted because there was no date on the envelope, but it was 18 days after I applied for it. I’m still not blaming Postman Pat though.

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