Gatwick Airport: Five-point checklist to avoid rogue 'meet and greet' parking companies as complaints soar ahead of Christmas holidays
and live on Freeview channel 276
Between May and October London Gatwick saw a 164% increase in complaints from passengers about third party ‘meet and greet’ parking companies, compared to the same period in 2019. Despite often having ‘Gatwick’ in their company or website name, the airport has no relationship with these third-party firms. Gatwick cannot prevent competitor parking companies from operating on site, provided they abide by airport byelaws and terms and conditions of use.
Complaints include vehicles being returned late or not at all, vehicles returned dirty inside and out, lost keys, vehicles left in unauthorised or unsecure locations and in some extreme circumstances, damaged vehicles and a significant increase in vehicle mileage. In one instance a passenger parked at Gatwick even found a map of Bristol – that was not theirs - on their back seat.
Gatwick is keen to avoid passengers having their Christmas holidays ruined by rogue ‘meet and greet’ or ‘valet’ parking firms, so has issued the following five-point checklist for its passengers, urging them to look out for:
- Positive reviews on Trustpilot, or other reputable review sites
- Full, clear contact details - not just a mobile phone number - on the company’s website
- Companies House Number, VAT Number and registered company address on their website
- British Parking Association’s Park Mark accreditation for all the operator’s storage sites
- Trading Standards’ Buy With Confidence accreditation
For peace of mind Gatwick strongly recommends passengers choose the airport’s official, secure, on-site parking options via parking.gatwickairport.com. Gatwick Airport’s valet parking includes 360-degree, high-definition cameras to check vehicles for pre-existing damage and they are also tracked at all times. All vehicles are stored in secure, BPA Park Mark accredited facilities, with keys stored in a secure airport facility. Gatwick also guarantees your car will be waiting for you when you return, with your next booking free if it’s not.
Gary Wallace, Head of Car Parks, Gatwick Airport said: “We know what a special time Christmas is for passengers – especially as this is the first in three years with unrestricted travel. The last thing we want is for our passengers’ holidays to be ruined by rogue parking companies. For complete peace of mind, we would always recommend passengers book with official Gatwick Airport parking, however, if considering using a third-party ‘meet and greet’ parking provider, we strongly advise using our checklist before booking.”
Duncan Crow, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Community Support, Fire & Rescue, said: “We robustly tackle traders who con and mislead consumers and take action when needed to ensure rogue traders are dealt with.
“When looking for a meet and greet parking operator, we urge consumers to carefully check to ensure the company is genuine and trustworthy. The five-point checklist is a really useful guide in how to do this. Anyone with any concerns about a meet and greet parking operator can make a report at www.westsussex.gov.uk/TSReport.”
Gatwick will also promote its ‘meet and greet’ parking checklist on a range of social media channels in the run up to Christmas, to remind passengers of key advice.