Changing over a standard personalised plate to a Euro plate sounds pretty straightforward, five minutes on the PPQ website and it’s all done right? Nope.

What is the difference between these two plates as far as readability goes? Nothing so why can’t you directly upgrade from one to the other?







For some reason the Department of Transport has declared that you cannot upgrade your standard personalised plate directly to a Euro plate as it’s a different class and you have to remove your personalised plates from your vehicle and fit temporary ones whilst waiting for the new plates to arrive. All other plate upgrades with the same combination of letters and numbers can take place whilst your plates are on the vehicle so why not the Euro plate upgrade?

The best part is that they won’t tell you this until you’ve wasted half a day chasing it up! You get an obscure error on the website, online chat tells you it’s a security measure and you need to call to make payment at which time they will try and sell you a new personalised European plate!

The Story

This is where this story starts, I hope this helps someone else out as PPQ are too inept to place this information on their website and the Department of Transport are too stupid to realise that their requirements make no sense but who will actually stand up and fix the problem? No-one but we’ll stuff around people and waste a heap of their time for no reason other than we can.

My wife’s personalised plates had deteriorated thanks to poor manufacturing but were outside the warranty period of seven years so upgrading them to Euro plates was on the cards.

So the journey starts on the PPQ website, even if you’re logged in and all your information is in your account you have to re-enter it all again as you go through the process but OK it’s a government site* and it’s to be expected. Get to the end, press the payment button to take you to the payment screen and it flashes up success but quickly it goes to an error.





*PPQ is actually a pretend government site and is run by a third party.
Registered trade mark of Publicis Red Lion Pty Ltd trading as Publicis Personalised Plates and Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, the operators of Personalised Plates Queensland.

The error is generic and so I go back and check everything and I do this seven times trying different combinations of details (I was ordering these for my wife’s vehicle) and checking all the details were correct.

Online chat is available so I jump onto there and I’m the only person in the queue but I have to wait seven minutes?!?! And wait seven minutes I did!








This is a copy of the chat  (spelling errors corrected and names removed)

PPQ Wed, 03/14/18 11:25:05 am Australia/Queensland
Hello and welcome to PPQ.COM.AU. How may I assist you?

Me 11:26:25 am
Hi, trying to order plate upgrade and keep getting error at the payment step of Specified plate detail must be valid

PPQ 11:31:14 am
i can see your upgrade in our system, to continue the order you will need to call us on 136 356

Me 11:31:28 am

PPQ 11:31:57 am
once an order has come through our system due to an error with the order on your side, the only way to complete the payment is by calling us

Me 11:33:10 am
Couldn’t you spend some of the $215 for a plate upgrade on a decent system that works? Can you delete the order and I’ll replace the order when I get time.

PPQ 11:33:58 am
whilst i appreciate the feedback, i am unable to delete the order without over the phone confirmation of identity. if you wish to continue an upgrade you will need to call us, the process is quick and shouldnt take longer than 5 minutes

Me 11:36:17 am
Forget it, that makes no sense and is totally illogical. On another note why don’t you offer other payment options? The only option is payment by credit card and you charge a surcharge on that payment option.

PPQ 11:38:17 am
we are only trying to protect your security of your plates, this is why we have these protective measures in place. otherwise it would be very easy for someone to fake your identity, order the plates and then complete illegal actions with your number plate.

all of our payments are sent directly to the department of transport and this is the payment method they provide us with

Me 11:40:17 am
I’ve put all my details in including my home address for delivery. Why would anyone order a different design of plates to be sent to their address using a credit card when you could just remove them from a car in 60 seconds? Makes no sense at all.

PPQ 11:41:21 am
We provide these security measures for you safety, to protect any possible way that people could enact fraudulent activity. We are only doing this for your safety, not to provide you with inconvenience

Me 11:43:50 am
So why don’t you say that with the error message instead of making me go back into my order and going through it all again and trying again to be told there is an error in what I’ve done? This makes no sense at all and is just crap. So much for being able to order plate upgrades as a gift if your system doesn’t allow it with all the correct details entered.
Department of Transport offers BPAY with no surcharge, you offer no options without a surcharge. Why do you think that consumer laws don’t apply to you? The price you advertise is not the price you pay so I’ll be putting a complaint into the ACCC.
11:45:11 am
Anyway thanks for wasting my morning.

Chat Terminated.

A complaint is filed with the ACCC at 12:09 over the issues with the surcharge and the advertised price being unobtainable (Reference: accc-enquiry:154474) but I have no doubts that the ACCC will do nothing.

At 12:33 I send an enquiry via the PPQ website.

I’d like to know how many times REDESIGN plates have been ordered via your website which have subsequently been used for criminal activities (ie by someone who is not the plate holder).

A reply is received at 13:21

Hi Matthew McDonald

Thank you for your email enquiry

Unfortunately I am unable to provide this information as I would need more clarification into your inquiry.

Please be aware when purchasing via our website the path to purchase does require the customer to provide details that match the current registered owners details. This includes their drivers license number (CRN) as well as full name, address and current combination on the plates.

If you wish to discuss this further please do not hesitate to send me an email at [email protected]

Thank you and I look forward to speaking with you

To reply to this email, please click here. Please do not reply to this email directly from your email client as it is sent from an un-monitored email address.

Thank you
The PPQ Team

My wife calls PPQ at 16:25 to pay for the plates, she explains the situation and that the order is there but needs to be paid for, they go off and talk to someone else and come back to her with a $775 figure (this is for new Euro plates), that she has to go to the Department of Transport, get temporary plates fitted and the existing plates removed, wait two weeks, return to the Department of Transport and have the temporary plates removed, drive home with no plates on and fit the plates. My wife who only wanted to pay gave up at this stage (16:35).

16:39 and I call PPQ to try and make sense of this, I explain to her what has happened and she said that you cannot order an upgrade plate to Euro plates as the Department of Transport does not permit this as the plates are different classes (WTF?) so you have to visit the Department of Transport and remove your personalised plates, get temporary plates, order the plates (which you may or may not be able to do online), wait for the plates to arrive, go back to the Department of Transport, hand in the plates, drive home without plates and fit your personalised plates at home. On top of all the expense in time you also have to pay $27.50 for regular plates. I asked why? This makes no sense? Both plates have the same combination of letters and numbers on there so what difference does it make? The only response is that the Department of Transport has a different class allocated to the plate but you can remake your plate with the same combination to other designs without a problem. (And this is the problem with the system – this is beyond stupid but no-one will say anything or do anything to correct this).

The issue of the advice that I had been given on chat is raised but no apology is forthcoming and why is there no mention of this ANYWHERE on their website and apparently it’s because not enough people have this issue so they don’t mention it on the website! Maybe they all give up after the errors? However because of all the time that I’ve wasted she will forward this upwards to management for consideration of changes to the website. I asked why aren’t the Euro plates discounted to cover the additional costs and no answer is forthcoming.

At 16:48 I’d had enough so thanked them* and terminated the call.

*What else can you do? I didn’t feel like thanking them.

The Department of Transport and PPQ are inept organisations that only exist to extort money and time through the provision of terrible service and miles of red tape. There is no justification for not allowing an upgrade to a Euro plate without having to remove the existing plates and there is no defence for the failure of PPQ to communicate this. PPQ would not exist in the real world, it’s only through their extortionate prices for products that cost them tens of dollars that they are able to sustain themselves. There is no reason why PPQ has to exist as a private company outside of the Department of Transport, how much does it cost to run PPQ compared to running it internally? How much does this cost the purchasers of personalised plates? And why do we have to pay so much to replace a personalised plate when it’s failed outside the short 5 to 7 year warranty because of manufacturing defects, is it reasonable that the government profits to the tune of hundreds of dollars?

In Germany getting a European plate made costs you 20 euros which you can do at any of the many private businesses that create them generally located near the Kfz-Zulassungsstelle (Vehicle Registration) office and picking personalised combination of letters and numbers costs you 10 euros. Whereas in Queensland it’s $775. Just one example of how expensive it is to live in Australia.

If you are a business thinking of setting up in Queensland forget it, not only is the cost of running a business high but your staff will be constantly sidetracked trying to keep up with all the bureaucracy that goes about doing anything in this state. Ordering this number plate upgrade should have been a 20 minute process, it will now take (excluding the time to write this) a full business day in total to complete by the time I add in two trips to the Department of Transport with my wife’s car and reordering.

If this was my car at this point I would get plates made that meet all the technical requirements either in Australia or overseas and fit those to my car for a fraction of the price. There is no reason why we have to have plates made by the government apart from the government wanting to profit from the sale of new and replacement plates, the system works in Europe and the UK where you get the plates made yourself and they don’t have the problems we have with number plate theft.

Various countries in Europe are trialling new technology to replace number plates. One uses stickers that cannot be removed without tearing, can contain RFID and if you need to remove them from your car for some reason you can have a replacement set printed and another uses plates that shatter when they are removed along with RFID and you can read more about it here. Number plate theft is an issue in Australia so why haven’t our governments considered solving the problem by moving to a non removable plate?

Gift Voucher Scam

And watch out for their Gift Voucher Scam, they are only valid for 12 months. What a rort! Fair trading departments around Australia are always going on about voucher and gift card scams with limited 12 month life, no refunds and no replacement of stolen or lost vouchers yet here is the Department of Transport committing the same scam! Something is really wrong with this but will anything change? Nope.

  • What percentage of Gift Vouchers are not redeemed?
  • What is the value of the Gift Vouchers that are not redeemed each year?
  • What is the total value of Gift Vouchers sold each year?

Queensland Governments Buying Gift Card Guide

Queensland’s Attorney?General considers that the United
States of America and Canada have moved “in the right
direction” regarding gift card regulation, particularly by
banning, or significantly limiting, expiry dates and certain fees,
and by requiring strict disclosures of various terms and

Source: Queensland Parliamentary Library Research Brief

10. Gift Vouchers are valid for twelve (12) months from the date of purchase. Gift Vouchers that are not used within this period will be forfeited and any funds left on the Gift Voucher will not be refunded or credited to the person that purchased the Gift Voucher (or the Gift Voucher recipient).

13. In the event that a person wishes to purchase a personalised plate that does not use up the entire value of the Gift Voucher, the remainder of the Gift Voucher will be forfeited and will not be redeemable for cash (by the person who purchased the Gift Voucher or the Gift Voucher recipient).

Link: Terms and Conditions

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