While most companies are reputable and offer a good service as advertised, Sussex Police and West Sussex Trading Standards have received reports of customers who are disappointed with the service offered.
Some customers have reported damage to vehicles, with some being returned dirty or with more mileage on the clock. Customers also reported very long delays when waiting for their cars to be returned to them after their holiday or trip.
As airports begin to get busier, it is important for motorists to check the reputation of the companies they are using.
Motorists should also remember that not all companies listed are affiliated to Gatwick Airport, even if the business includes ‘Gatwick Airport’ in its name or if their website looks like it is linked to the airport.
Gatwick Police Neighbourhood Policing Team Inspector James Biggs said: “Travellers seeking to use ‘meet and greet’ parking services should do their research before deciding which company to use.
“Online tools are available to help travellers with their research.
“If you book through an agent online, you should be aware that your vehicle may be allocated to one of a number of companies on their books.
“By doing your research you will be more confident to leave your vehicle with your chosen company and enjoy your travels.”
Gary Wallace, head of parking at Gatwick Airport, said: “Gatwick Airport has no relationship with these rogue ‘meet and greet’ parking companies, even though many of them have ‘Gatwick’ in their company name.
“Legally rogue firms can operate on the airport as long as they do not break our bye-laws.
“If passengers are considering using an off-airport meet and greet parking provider, they should check that they have a good reputation on Trustpilot, Trip Advisor or any other reliable means. The British Parking Association also has some good advice.
“For complete piece of mind, I would however strongly recommend that passengers use official on-airport parking.”
Richard Sargeant, West Sussex Trading Standards team manager, said: “In recent years, we have had to deal with a number of rogue ‘meet and greet’ companies at Gatwick Airport and it can be very difficult for travellers to decide which parking operator is best to use when you go on holiday or business.
“We would recommend travellers either park with Gatwick Airport direct or use an approved parking operator, who are reputable businesses.
"They afford you far greater security while you are away and so we always suggest visiting buywithconfidence.co.uk to find out which meet and greet operators have been Trading Standards Approved.
“Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of an unfair trading practice, should contact West Sussex Trading Standards via Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133.”