Do personalised number plate companies have a special arrangement with the DVLA to reserve number plates?

On 7 December, DVLA launched its series 11 plates. Two days previously I received an unsolicited text from Regtransfers offering to sell me a personalised number plate using the new 11 series. For interest I looked up the Regtransfer web site and keyed in one of their number plate suggestions. The price was £1,599. I then contacted the DVLA web site and keyed in the same number plate. The DVLA price was £599. No order could be accepted, however, until 08.30 on 7 December.

At 08.30 on the 7th I tried to go on to the DVLA website without success. The web site was "undergoing maintenance". This remained the case for an hour, by which time the message came back "the service is not available please try later". My son met with a similar response. At 10.40 he managed to access the DVLA web site and telephoned me to say that all of the number plate variations suggested by Regtransfers in their original text had been sold. How do Regtransfers, and other similar companies offering number plates, cherry-pick their choice of numbers from the DVLA and make a financial killing in the process, whilst I and many others seem unable to do so? Do these companies have a "Special arrangement" with the DVLA?

Asked on 6 December 2010 by CR, Edinburgh

Answered by Honest John
I put your question to the DVLA and the response was:

“DVLA does not have any special arrangement with any commercial organisation. All our registrations are sold on a first come first served basis. On the day the 11 series was launched DVLA witnessed unprecedented demand selling almost 23,000 registrations on the first day of sale. The site went live at 8.30am and our first purchase was sold at 8.32am to a general member of the public. You may be interested to know that the majority of the registrations sold were purchased by members of the public.”
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