Gatwick meet and greet directors fined more than £50,000

Just three months after they were fined £7,000 for misleading customers of their Gatwick meet and greet parking company, two company directors have been ordered to pay more than £50,000.

Imran Shahid and Tariq Wasi, directors of Air Parking Ltd, have been operating a Gatwick meet and greet parking company from an unauthorised car park in Copthorne. The pair converted a disused plot of land into the 800-space car park in 2014, however, failed to gain the appropriate planning permission.

Following complaints, they were issued with a ‘stop notice’ by Mid Sussex District Council, however, Shahid and Wasi continued to operate from the site.

Earlier this year, the pair pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the stop notice and, on 29 October 2015, they each received a fine of £3,000 and were ordered to pay MSDC’s court costs of £9,500. Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the Judge also ordered that £34,578 be confiscated from the pair – the amount the couple made while continuing to operate under the stop notice.

Gatwick Parking Ad banned after cars parked in streets

A Gatwick parking company has had its advert for ‘secure meet and greet parking’ banned after cars were parked in local streets.

Urban Parking Ltd, which operates Gatwickmeetandgreet.net, claimed that it was Trading Standards and Gatwick Police approved and claimed cars were parked in a fenced, floodlit and patrolled car park which had been inspected by the Police.

Following a complaint, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated, however, Urban Parking failed to respond, and the ASA concluded there was no evidence to support the company’s claims and therefore they were misleading.

The ASA has told Urban Parking that, “The ad must not appear again in its current form”, and “ensure their future advertising did not mislead in relation to where consumers’ vehicles would be parked.”

They were also told them to ensure they were in a position to support their future objective claims with adequate evidence and that they did not claim they had been approved, endorsed or authorised by any public or other body if that was not the case.

Urban Parking’s website, Gatwickmeetandgreet.net is now offline and a quick check of their listing on the Companies House website reveals that, although the company is still active, there is a proposal to strike the company off.

For anyone looking to book Gatwick meet and greet parking, always ensure that the company is a Gatwick Approved Operator, a list of these can be found below:

  • ABC Gatwick
  • Airparks
  • APH
  • Cophall Parking
  • ECO Parking
  • Help Me Park
  • I Love Meet & Greet
  • Just Valet Parking
  • Maple Manor
  • Meteor Meet & Greet
  • Tudor Rose
  • Ace Meet & Greet

Don’t get caught out by a rogue meet and greet parking company

After your house your car is probably the most expensive item you own, so you wouldn’t consider handing your car keys over to just anyone and expect them to treat it with respect. So why would you consider using a non-approved meet and greet parking company when travelling from Gatwick?

Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of Gatwick’s Approved Operator Scheme for meet and greet parking companies. Take Phil Cockrell for example, who left his £34,000 Mercedes with RS09, an unapproved Gatwick meet and greet parking company.

According to the Daily Mail, Mr Cockrell left his car with RS09, believing it was parked in RS09’s ‘secure compound’, however, when he returned from holiday it had an extra 800 miles on the clock. Following Police checks it became apparent that his car had been spotted by cameras on 20 separate occasions in four different counties on seven different days.

When Mr Cockrell contacted RS09, the company refused to admit liability and tried to claim there was a problem with his car as their CCTV showed the vehicle hadn’t moved.

This story just highlights the problems that can arise from using a non-Gatwick Approved meet and greet parking company, and has generated many comments on the online article.

A quick survey of the relevant comments on the Daily Mail’s website revealed that of those commenting, 49 people believe that the company’s CCTV footage should able to identify which driver took Mr Cockrell’s car – Uncle Bill from Germany said in his comment:

OK- if RS09 does have CCTV, does that not show the employee who drove off in the car? The cameras only seem to work when it suits them.

Almost a third of those commenting believes the company should be prosecuted, sued or pay compensation for failure to uphold its contract – that of securely parking the car.

The company’s lack of proper procedures that allowed all employees access to car keys and led to a member of staff taking the car on a joyride was highlighted by 37 of the commentators.

13 people cited problems that RS09 has had in the past – Kev from Hampshire said:

Taken from a BBC investigation into airport valet parking companies: “We then sent a car into a company called RS09 UK Services LTD, also operating out of Gatwick Airport. They promised a “safe and secure storage area” and stress that “you can be sure your pride and joy is in safe hands”. Our car was immediately driven to a place with a fence, a gate, and a CCTV camera, but 24 hours later, our car was driven by what we can only assume is an RS09 employee to a residential address in Crawley. It then stayed there for eleven hours overnight, before being taken back to the car park.”

Suggestions to prevent problems in the future included recording the mileage when handing over a car, fitting a tracking device or dash camera, or using another type of parking where keys are retained by the owner, or using another mode of transport to get to the airport.

31 people recommended boycotting RS09 or getting rid of the company altogether, although concerns were raised about the ease with which the company could close and reopen under a different name.

The police also came under criticism with 43 people highlighting lack of action in investigating who took the vehicle, and not being willing or able to prosecute the company.

24 people reported similar experiences with meet and greet parking (not all of those taking place at Gatwick).

Surprisingly, just one person suggested reporting RS09 to Trading Standards; only one suggested that all meet and greet parking companies should be licensed, while another thought meet and greet should be regulated.

What does come to light when reading the comments is the number of people who are confused about what meet and greet parking actually is. Some seem to think meet and greet companies are licensed, while one person thought that RS09 was the only official meet and greet parking option available at Gatwick.

Meet and greet parking is largely an unregulated industry, although Gatwick Airport has attempted to change this by introducing their Approved Operator Scheme – currently there are eight approved operators.

When the Approved Operator scheme was introduced, Gatwick estimated that in the region of 150 meet and greet parking companies were operating at the airport.

Although Gatwick has yet to ban any meet and greet parking companies from operating at the airport, it’s important for the travelling public to be aware of the risks involved in not booking an Approved Operator for their meet and greet parking.

Gatwick Car Park 6 to open next spring

Gatwick Airport’s North Terminal short-stay car park is set to reopen in the spring of 2016, almost a year after it was closed, the Crawley News reports.

The car park has been closed since May for what the airport calls “essential maintenance”.

Gatwick Airport was forced to apologise after the closure of the car park caused chaos at the Terminal.

Gatwick meet and greet parking company fined £7,000 for misleading customers

A two-year operation by Trading Standards has resulted in the prosecution of a Gatwick meet and greet parking company, the Daily Mail reports.

Air Parking Limited claimed to offer secure parking in an area that was manned 24 hours a day and had regular security patrols, however, in reality, cars were parked in insecure fields with doors left unlocked and keys unsupervised.

Tariq Wasi and Imran Shahid of Air Parking Ltd pleaded guilty to eight counts of misleading consumers at Worthing Magistrates Court and were fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £1,070.35 costs, a victim surcharge of £120, and court costs of £180.

Air Parking Ltd is just one of several Gatwick meet and greet parking companies that hasn’t lived up to its promises. There have been several cases in recent years that have been brought to public attention, including:

On it’s website, Gatwick Airport advises that:

Gatwick Airport strongly advises against using any parking supplier who is not an approved off-airport parking supplier as these other companies may not have any industry accreditation.”

A list of Gatwick Approved meet and greet parking companies can be found here.

Can you really trust your Gatwick meet and greet parking company?

What happens if you book meet and greet parking and your driver doesn’t turn up?

Unfortunately, that’s a problem that can occur when you don’t check the credentials of your meet and greet parking company – it’s a problem that happened to Graham and forced him to pay for his parking twice!

According to a review on Ciao, Graham booked 11 days’ parking with Sky One Parking at Gatwick, however, when he arrived at the airport, Sky One wasn’t there to meet him.

When he tried to contact them on the number he was given at the time of his booking, he found it was for a different parking company – apparently, this company gets around 8 to 10 similar calls a month.

An investigation into Sky One Parking revealed that their website is now offline: their mobile number: 07905431629 is switched off; and their landline number: 01293 544111 has an answer phone message stating, “Welcome to airport meet and greet parking services. Sky One parking is part of Airport Parking Services.” You are then asked to leave a message.

In the past, problems with Sky One have been raised, most notably the investigation by the BBC’s Your Money Their Tricks programme, which found that the secure, covered car park promised on the company’s website, was in fact an unsecure, unmanned car park with an open gate.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last time, that a Gatwick air traveller has been let down by a meet and greet parking company.

If you are looking for secure, reliable Gatwick meet and greet parking, there is a way to ensure that you get the service and the secure parking that you pay for, and that’s to use a Gatwick Approved Operator.

Gatwick Approved Operators are the only meet and greet parking companies permitted to operate on the terminal forecourts.

These Approved Operators have undergone strict investigation to enable them to meet Gatwick Airport’s criteria to become approved, namely:

  • They must only use Safer Parking, ParkMark approved car parks
    In order to achieve ParkMark status, car parks are inspected by the police to ensure that they offer a safe and secure environment for parked cars. Car parks are inspected annually to ensure security standards are maintained.
  • They must be approved by Trading Standards and awarded its Buy With Confidence accreditation
    Trading Standards only issues its Buy With Confidence award to companies that pass a set of tailored background checks, including:

    • The company’s complaints policy and history
    • The company’s website to ensure that there are no unsubstantiated claims
    • That the company adheres to online trading laws and regulations
    • Ensuring that all staff are CRB checked
    • Checking staffing policies and management practices.

Currently, the following companies have met Gatwick’s strict standards:

  • ABC Gatwick Parking
  • Airparks
  • Airport Parking & Hotels (APH)
  • Cophall Parking
  • ECO Parking
  • Help Me Park
  • I Love Meet & Greet
  • Just Valet Parking
  • Maple Manor
  • Meteor Meet & Greet
  • Ace Meet & Greet
  • Tudor Rose

To ensure you’re booking with a Gatwick Approved Operator, look for the Approved Operator logo.

Gatwick Approved Operator Scheme logo

Don’t take a chance with your car, or risk having to pay for your parking twice, book a Gatwick Approved Operator today!

Gatwick Airport issues apology for car park choas

Gatwick Airport has apologised after one of its car parks had to close, causing chaos at the airport.

Car Park 6 at the North Terminal – one of only two short-stay car parks at the terminal – has been closed for ‘essential maintenance’.

A Gatwick staff member told the West Sussex County Times, “it is absolute chaos down there at the moment.”

“It is absolutely disgraceful.”

Can you really trust your Gatwick valet parking company to securely park your car?

Looking for secure Gatwick meet and greet parking but confused by the number of companies operating at Gatwick?

It’s hardly surprising when you’re inundated with a collection of smart-looking websites promising “the cheapest”, “the best”, “a quality service”, “the ultimate service”.

So how can you avoid the cowboys and find a reliable company?

The easiest way to ensure you choose a safe, secure, reliable meet and greet parking company is to opt for a Gatwick Approved Operator.

The Gatwick Approved Operator scheme was set up almost two years’ ago with the express intention of cleaning up the meet and greet parking industry, which, at the time, was largely unregulated.

Although Gatwick hasn’t banned any meet and greet parking companies from operating at the airport, and I’m not entirely sure it logistically could, it will only endorse companies that meet its Approved Operator criteria, namely companies that:

  • Only use ParkMark approved car parks
    The Safer Parking ParkMark is a national standard for UK car parks that have low crime and measures in place to ensure a safe and secure environment for parked cars.

    ParkMark certificates are issued annually and only renewed after the car park has been inspected to ensure safety standards have been maintained.

  • Have been approved by Trading Standards and awarded its Buy With Confidence accreditation
    The Buy With Confidence award is only issued to companies that have been inspected by Trading Standards and passed a set of tailored background checks, which includes:

    • their complaints policy and history
    • an examination of their websites to ensure that they don’t make unsubstantiated claims
    • that they adhere to online trading laws and regulations
    • that they CRB check all their staff
    • staffing policies and management practices are checked too.

At the time of writing, 6 May 2015, only eight companies have met Gatwick’s strict standards:

  • Airport Parking & Hotels (APH)
  • Cophall Parking
  • Help Me Park
  • I Love Meet & Greet
  • Maple Manor
  • Meteor Meet & Greet
  • Ace Meet & Greet
  • Tudor Rose

The following companies are all trading names of Approved Operators: ABC Parking, Airparks, ECO Parking and Just Valet Parking, so you’re safe in the knowledge that your parking will be carried out by an approved operator and your car will be parked in a safe, secure car park.

Gatwick Airport says on its website:

Gatwick Airport strongly advises against using any parking supplier who is not an approved off-airport parking supplier as these other companies may not have any industry accreditation.

So if you’re looking for safe, secure meet and greet parking, always use a Gatwick Approved Operator, if they meet Trading Standards, ParkMark and Gatwick Airport’s exacting standards, then they should be good enough for you!

Keep your car safe and enjoy your holiday.

RS09 car theft – why you should always use a Gatwick Approved Operator

Here’s why you should only use a Gatwick Approved Operator for your Gatwick meet and greet parking.

Book a non-approved parking company and you’re basing your decision on trust; you’re trusting that what the company says on its website is true – after all, there’s no industry accreditation proof to support their claims.

According to its website RS09 offers “the number #1 choice for Airport Parking in the Gatwick area”. However, all may not be as it appears on its website.

The BBC’s XRay programme, aired on Monday (23 February 2015) in Wales, revealed one very unhappy customer who returned home for his holiday in Spain to find that his car had been stolen from RS09’s car park.

The Burns family booked a week’s parking with RS09 in August last year however, when the family arrived back at Gatwick after their holiday, their car wasn’t there to meet them.

Here’s how events unfolded:

  • Mr Burns phoned RS09 and was told that his car wouldn’t start.
  • An hour later, still no car, so another call to the parking company, only to be told a lorry had to be brought in to start their car.
  • An hour later, still no car, only a phone call from RS09 asking Mr Burns what colour his car was.
  • FIVE hours after the Burns family arrived back at Gatwick, RS09 rang to inform the family that their car had been stolen.

Almost a month later, after spending more than £1,000 on car hire, Mr Burns was informed by the Police that his car had been found in a car park near Horsham.

This isn’t the first time the BBC has investigated RS09, nor is it the only non-approved Gatwick Operator to be investigated by the BBC for failing to live up to the promise of “secure parking”.

If you’re looking for safe, secure Gatwick meet and greet parking, you should always book with a Gatwick Approved Operator.

Reasons to book a Gatwick Approved Operator:

  • Their car parks have been inspected by the Police and awarded ParkMark approval – car parks are inspected annually to ensure standards are maintained
  • All employees are CRB checked and fully insured to drive your vehicle
  • Trading Standards has investigated the company and awarded them their Buy With Confidence award
  • Your car will be collected and returned to the terminal forecourt

Don’t forget, Gatwick Airport states on its website:

“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.”

Safe, secure Gatwick meet and greet

Want to book Gatwick meet and greet parking that meets Gatwick Airport’s and Tranding Standards’ high standards? Then book your parking with a Gatwick Approved Operator.

At the time of writing (25 Feb ’15) only the following companies are approved by Gatwick:

  • ABC Gatwick
  • Airparks
  • APH
  • Cophall Parking
  • Diamond Parking
  • ECO Parking
  • Help Me Park
  • I Love Meet and Greet
  • Just Valet Parking
  • Maple Manor
  • Meteor Meet and Greet
  • Ace
  • Tudor Rose

Trading Standards issues Gatwick meet and greet warning

West Sussex Trading Standards Service is advising customers of meet and greet airport parking companies to check the small print this Christmas.

Trading Standards has received complaints from customers who have experienced thefts from their cars, damage to their vehicles and excess mileage put on the odometer while their car has been in the care of some unscrupulous companies.

The advice being given is:

  • Check the company websites and make sure you know who you are dealing with. Legally, companies need to provide their name and address details on websites. If contact address details are missing, be extra cautious and consider booking with a different provider
  • Consider using a credit card to make your booking if the cost is more than £100 – this will give you extra protection should something go wrong
  • Most reputable companies will complete paperwork highlighting any damage to the vehicle at the time you drop it off. Take photos of all 4 sides of your vehicle when dropping it off to help avoid any disputes regarding damage to your vehicle when you return from holiday
  • Make a note of the mileage reading on your car when you drop it off
  • Do not leave any valuables or money in your vehicle whilst you are on your travels.

Lionel Barnard, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Residents’ Services with responsibility for trading standards said: “It’s important to say that the majority of people suffer a stress free experience when dealing with official and regulated meet and greet firms.

“There are so many things to arrange when you are going on holiday at Christmas time, any time for that matter, that it’s easy to look at car parking online and concentrate on price or availability rather than reading the small print.

“If you look closely some companies offering ‘meet and greet’ services do not have full contact details on their websites so you have no way of making contact if you have a complaint.

“In some cases claims of secure parking can actually mean a field or a street near to the airport.

“Our advice is to use the official airport car parking facilities or use a ‘meet and greet’ service provided by our ‘Buy With Confidence’ trading standards approved business.”

West Sussex Trading Standards operates the Buy With Confidence scheme (BWC), a trade approval scheme, where all members are vetted and approved by the service. In relation to meet and greet companies, BWC means that their parking compounds have been checked and are all secure.

Visit the BWC website to find out which meet and greet operators are part of BWC – Gatwick postcode is RH6 0NP (South Terminal)

The Gatwick Airport website has a list of Gatwick Approved operators. The meet and greet companies listed on the Gatwick Airport website will all be members of BWC and their parking compounds will also all have the Park Mark award.