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Non-approved Operators cause parking chaos at Gatwick

What if your meet and greet parking company wasn’t at Gatwick to meet you when you returned from holiday? Or what if it did return your car – a brand new BMW – but it needed £4,000 worth of bodywork to repair scratches sustained in the custody of the meet and greet company?

Think the above is just the stuff of nightmares? Think again. Both these scenarios happened at Gatwick in the past couple of weeks:

Abandoned car
Liz Hosford booked eight days’ parking with Air Fly Limited at a cost of just £44, but things didn’t get off to a good start, the Crawley News reports. Firstly, after a long wait dropping her car off – she phoned Air Fly 53 times before someone finally turned up. She wasn’t the only one kept waiting, five other families were waiting, one of whom had been waiting eight hours!

Then, on her arrival back at Gatwick, no one was there to meet her with her car. After attempting to contact Air Fly (47 calls were made), her car was spotted in the short-stay car park where it had been abandoned for her entire holiday, racking up a £400 parking bill. Unfortunately, Air Fly had the car keys and Miss Hosford was forced to take a taxi home, at a cost of £65.

After tracking down Air Fly’s offices – “a pokey little office down an alleyway with just one of their drivers there, who claimed he knew nothing” – four crates containing bags of car keys were searched before finally finding the correct key.

Fortunately for Miss Hosford, Gatwick Airport waived the £400 parking charge, otherwise, a cheap £44 parking booking could have cost more than £500.

Scratched car
On Christmas Day, Laura Kanareck left her brand new BMW for two weeks with Best Meet and Greet, the Sevenoaks Chronicle reports. On her arrival back at Gatwick, her car was returned with around 30 huge key marks on the side.

A spokesman from Best Meet and Greet Gatwick told the Chronicle: “Best Meet and Greet have a contractual agreement with First Choice Parking Ltd for the collection, storage and delivery of all vehicles that are booked via our website.”

It is understood that the police is investigating.

It seems that Laura wasn’t the only one having problems with Best Meet and Greet, several have taken to the company’s Facebook page to express their anger.

How to find a reliable Gatwick meet and greet parking company
Done right, meet and greet parking is an extremely convenient type of parking, but you need to make sure the company you are booking with is a legitimate company. It’s actually quite easy to spot a reputable company when you know what you’re looking for.

Always book with a Gatwick Approved Operator – there’s a list on Gatwick’s website – yes, they may sometimes be a little more expensive than the cowboys who park cars in fields, at the side of the road, or in supermarket car parks, but there’s a reason for it.

It costs money to run a proper, licenced car park with good security, fencing, CCTV and gates. Not to mention the number of drivers you need to make sure you’ve got every parking booking covered and that there’s someone at the airport for each customer, not just a couple of guys trying to juggle bookings, hoping that someone will be early so they can fit the bookings in.

Gatwick Approved Operators must meet certain criteria to even be eligible to join the Approved Operator scheme, namely:

  • ParkMark
    They must park all cars in ParkMark awarded car parks – Gatwick compares how many parking bookings the approved companies take with how many parking bays they have, to ensure that all cars are parked in ParkMark car parks.
  • Buy With Confidence
    Trading Standards is hard to please, so not every company that applies is awarded its Buy With Confidence. Any company applying undergoes a series of detailed checks, including:

      • A review of their complaints policy and history
      • A check of their website to ensure they have no unsubstantiated claims
      • Checks on their staffing policies and management practices
      • That the company adheres to online trading laws and regulations
      • Ensuring that all staff are CRB checked.

    Once awarded the Buy With Confidence accreditation, the performance of members of the scheme is continuously monitored via the Citizen’s Advice Consumer Service.

Don’t get caught out with your parking, book with a Gatwick Approved Operator today.