Did anyone see BBC’s Watchdog programme on Wednesday night about the Gatwick meet and greet parking company Gold?
Meet and greet parking is a great service; it saves loads of time and has to be the most convenient type of airport parking available. Unfortunately, the increase in popularity of this service has seen an explosion in the number of companies setting up to take advantage of the demand, some of whom don’t have the facilities required to offer the secure parking promised on their websites.
The programme highlighted some of the problems with Gold Parking: a car which had an extra 1,500 miles on the clock when returned to its owner and the poor Mercedes owner who returned from holiday to discover his brand new car had been stolen from their ‘secure compound’.
Watchdog also conducted three test bookings, leaving a total of three cars with the company, none of which were parked in secure car parks.
While it is important that holiday makers are made aware of the pitfalls of booking meet and greet parking with unscrupulous companies and that their choice of company should not be based on price, it’s just as important to inform people of how to spot a reputable meet and greet parking company.
Here are a few tips on how to spot a reputable meet and greet parking company.
Look for membership of Trade associations when booking with a meet and greet operator you should be provided with a brief description of the company and its car parking facilities on their website or the site you are booking through, but how accurate is this?
How do you know that what you see on the website is a fair representation of the company and its facilities?
The safest option when booking meet and greet parking is to look for the safer parking ParkMark certification, which shows that the airport parking company’s car park meets strict standards of security, is properly managed and maintained and has the correct amount of surveillance, lighting, signage, cleanliness plus has secure entry and exit points.
To receive the safer parking ParkMark accreditation, parking facilities must be assessed by accredited Police staff that actually visit the parking site to check the car park against the Safer Parking Scheme’s criteria that requires measures to be put in place to help deter criminal activity, anti-social behaviour and help prevent crime within the parking facility.
The ParkMark scheme is managed by the British Parking Association and supported by the Home Office and Scottish Government. Once awarded the ParkMark approval, companies are assessed annually to ensure high standards of parking are maintained.
Trading Standards has now expanded their Buy With Confidence accreditation to cover meet and greet airport parking, so look out for the logo.
If you’re booking your meet and greet parking at Gatwick then look for the Approved Operator Scheme which identifies companies that hold the ParkMark Award and the Buy With Confidence Award – only companies that hold these awards can become members of the Gatwick Approved Operator Scheme.
BBC Watchdog programme can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0444qqz/watchdog-series-33-episode-1 Gold Parking info can be found at 11.30 minutes, 29 minutes and 49 minutes.
Gatwick Airport’s website states that: “Gatwick Airport strongly advise against using any parking supplier who is not an Approved Off-Airport Parking supplier as these other companies may not have any industry accreditation.”