Gatwick meet and greet warning

It’s that time of year when most of us are looking to book our airport parking before jetting of on our summer holiday.

If you haven’t booked yours yet and thought airport parking was simply a choice between on-airport, off-airport and meet and greet, you need to think again.

Yes, you do have a choice between on- and off-airport and meet and greet but, if you’re considering Gatwick meet and greet parking, you need to be aware that not all companies are equal.

No, there are two types of companies: those that have been approved by Gatwick Airport and those that haven’t.

Companies that have been approved by Gatwick offer the following benefits:

  • They are the only operators that are permitted to collect and return cars on the airport’s terminal forecourts
  • They only park cars in secure, Safer Parking Park Mark awarded car parks. These car parks are inspected annually to ensure safety and security standards are maintained
  • They have been investigated by Trading Standards and awarded Trading Standards Buy With Confidence approval.

You’ll find a list of all Gatwick Approved Operators on Gatwick Airport’s website – there are only 12!

To save you checking, we’ve listed them all below:

There are lots of other meet and greet parking companies operating at Gatwick, far too many to count, although, when Gatwick Airport introduced its Approved Operator Scheme in 2013, it estimated there were in the region of 150 meet and greet parking companies at Gatwick.

While a quick search in Google (there are other search engines) will reveal some of these companies, do remember that not all of them offer the high standards guaranteed by a Gatwick Approved Operator. They may come across well on their smart website but you have no guarantee that what they say is correct, and that their ‘secure’ car parks are secure. If you need convincing, take a look at some of the following articles:

From ITV: 1,000 cars left in muddy field

From ITV: Counting the true cost of meet and greet

Crawley News: Parking company abandons car in short-stay car park leading to £400 parking bill

Sevenoaks Chronicle: Car sustains £4,000 worth of damage

BBC News: Probe into Gatwick Sky Parking

Mid Sussex District Council: Men fined £50,00 for running illegal airport car park

Daily Mail: Rogue parking company fined for misleading customers

You may think you’re saving money by booking an unapproved operator but, as the ITV News story above shows, the true cost of meet and greet isn’t necessarily the price you pay when booking.

The choice is yours!

Owners fined for allowing muddy field to be used for Gatwick meet and greet

If you thought the incident last month in which more than 1,000 meet and greet cars were found parked in a muddy field was a one-off, you’d be wrong.

Reigate & Banstead Borough Council has successfully prosecuted the owners of another muddy field after they allowed it to be illegally used for parking more than 500 meet and greet cars.

The owners of the field, Mr and Mrs Flitton, allowed Britannia Airport Parking (aka Easy Parking Gatwick) to use the muddy field as a car park for their Gatwick meet and greet parking business. However, the car park was unauthorised and a temporary stop notice was served on the owners of the field, requiring the parking to stop immediately, but they did not comply.

Councillor Mark Brunt, chairman of Reigate & Banstead’s planning committee, said: “This was a very serious breach of planning rules which we will not tolerate in our borough. The owners of the land did not have planning permission to use the field for the purpose of allowing commercial parking and, having ignored our enforcement notices, we had no choice but to take legal action against them.”

Mr David Flitton and Mrs Eliza Flitton of Baleene, Harrowsley Green Lane, Horley, pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a Temporary Stop Notice at Redhill Magistrate’s Court on 7 June 2016.

The land owners were prosecuted under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and fined £4,675 with an additional £100 costs. 521 vehicles were parked in breach of planning control.

To ensure that your car doesn’t end up in a muddy field, make sure you book your meet and greet parking with a Gatwick Approved Operator.

As part of the criteria required to become approved, meet and greet parking companies must only use Park Mark awarded car parks and have the Trading Standards’ Buy With Confidence award.

Only 12 meet and greet parking companies are approved by Gatwick Airport, they are:

5 Gatwick parking companies investigated after cars abandoned in muddy field

More than a thousand people are on holiday at the moment unaware that the safe and secure meet and greet parking they thought they’d booked was no more than a muddy field.

Sussex Police, Horsham District Council and West Sussex Trading Standards are investigating five Gatwick meet and greet parking companies after more than 1,000 vehicles were discovered in a boggy field next to Gatwick.

The field’s location has not been revealed to protect the cars, some of which have their keys stuck to their windscreens. A box containing keys to hundreds of other vehicles was found in the boot of an unlocked car.

The names of the five “rogue” meet and greet parking companies being investigated are also under wrap.

The Police are also looking into reports of theft, criminal damage and excess mileage on vehicles left with the unnamed firms within the past few months.

The Police are urging anyone wishing to book Gatwick meet and greet parking to only book with a Gatwick Approved Operator.

Don’t take a chance with your car’s security, book with one of the following companies that offer Gatwick Approved meet and greet parking:

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

Police investigates Gatwick Sky Parking

Sussex Police is investigating yet another non-approved Gatwick meet and greet parking company following complaints of damage to customers’ cars, the BBC reports.

Many customers of Gatwick Sky Parking, who reported deep scratches and vehicles covered in mud, have been left facing bills totaling thousands of pounds to repair.

On its website, Gatwick Sky Parking offers to “take the hassle out of airport parking by meeting you at the airport and parking your car safely and securely for you” in its “secure compound”

However, Ian Mullen would disagree. He said work to repair the scratches would cost £7,000 and that both back doors and the driver’s seat was “caked in mud”. He told the BBC: “I’m almost certain it was not parked in a secure environment like they say it was with CCTV cameras etc., and I also have some deep suspicions it had been used by individuals.”

When Mr Mullen contacted me, he told me “42 cars were vandalised in a field behind a derelict pub mine being one of them. They told me they had obtained a crime Id. This was a lie. When I called Sussex police they had no reported crime.”

Another customer, Mirriam Nichols, said she faced a repair bill of more than £2,000 with four scratches on the bonnet.

Yet another customer who contacted Gatwick Blog, Shirley, said: “My vehicle is scratched all over and needs the passenger door repainted because of masses of scratches, along with the bonnet, also door window needs replacing because it us scratched to bits. The cost of repairs in excess of £600.”

Shirley, who booked her parking through the Mobit website, said of the site: “ It looks excellent and the description of service provided looked perfectly ok. I have used meet and greet many times and have never had this problem.”

When the BBC contacted Gatwick Airport about the issues with Gatwick Sky Parking, it said: “it had no relationship with Gatwick Sky Parking, the company was not part of its Approved Operator Scheme and it was therefore unable to comment further.”

While it’s too late to help Gatwick Sky Parking customers, anyone travelling from Gawick and wanting to book Gatwick meet and greet parking, should always use a Gatwick Approved Operator.

Gatwick Airport does have a list of approved operators, however, it isn’t easy to find – you’ll find the list here: www.gatwickairport.com/parking/other-parking-options/Operator-Scheme/

There are currently 12 Approved Operators, listed below:

  • ABC Gatwick
  • 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

For more information on the Gatwick Approved Operator Scheme check out one of our previous posts: 4-quick-tips-to-help-you-spot-a-reliable-gatwick-meet-and-greet-parking-company

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!

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.

4 quick tips to help you spot a reliable Gatwick meet and greet parking company

Have the recent problems with Gold Parking and EPS Parking deterred you from using Gatwick meet and greet parking?

Don’t be put off from using such a convenient service, just learn to look for the tell-tale signs that identify reputable companies.

Here are four quick things to look for – no reading required (unless you want to) the images say it all:

Buy With Confidence logo

Buy with Confidence logo
Trading Standards approved businesses Buy With Confidence logo signifies you are dealing with a reputable local businesses checked by Trading Standards

ParkMark logo

ParkMark logo
Managed by the British Parking Association, the Safer Parking ParkMark logo identifies companies whose parking facilities have been vetted and approved by the police.

Gatwick AOS

Gatwick Approved Operator Scheme logo
Introduced in July 2013, the Gatwick Airport Approved Meet and Greet Operator Scheme identifies companies that have proved that they can provide a high level of professionalism and service.

Gatwick Airport strongly advises against using any parking supplier who is not an Approved Off-Airport Parking supplier.

https:

https secure server logo

When paying for your parking online, make sure the website is using industry-standard SSL encryption software that encrypts all your card details and personal information. You’ll be able to recognise a secure page by the prefix https:// or a green address or the padlock in the bottom right-hand corner of your browser window.

If you spot the above four images on your chosen company’s website then you should be dealing with a reputable company.

Need extra assurances?

If you want to double-check the company’s credentials to ensure that what they claim is correct, then visit the following sites:

  1. To check Buy With Confidence status click here  – select ‘airport parking’ as business type
    Gatwick Airport’s postcode is RH6 0NP
  2. To double check that your chosen company has ParkMark visit the ParkMark page and search using the postcode of the company.
  3. To view Gatwick Approved Operators click here

The above information was provided by Help Me Park, a Gatwick Approved meet and greet parking operator, with Buy With Confidence status.

Parking Companies Leave Drivers Stranded at Gatwick

Two Gatwick parking companies have left drivers stranded this week, due to a dispute between two parking operators.

Those people who booked their parking with EPS and APG arrived back after their flight to expect their cars to be ready and waiting for them. Only they were not. They weren’t just late, oh no, they didn’t turn up!

Today, 9th October, it has been reported that the dispute between the two companies meant that customer cars were not where they should have been, with customers reporting them missing. This resulted in many customers having to travel home, under their own steam, to return the next day with spare keys to retrieve their cars themselves.

West Sussex Trading Standards has confirmed that both EPS and APG will be investigated following a large number of complaints.

The incidents highlight the problems which can occur when using non-approved meet and greet parking companies.

Gatwick Airport introduced the Approved Operator Scheme in July this year, and in order to become an approved meet and greet parking company, companies must meet strict criteria including:

  • Hold the Safer Parking ParkMark award, for all operational car parks. Park Mark® is operated by the British Parking Association, in conjunction with the Association of Chief Police Officers
  • Hold the Buy With Confidence Accreditation awarded by Trading Standards
  • Have signed Gatwick Airport’s Terms of Licence Agreement.

It’s advisable to only book an Approved Operator for your Gatwick meet and greet parking.

If you’ve been caught out by either EPS or APG recently please feel free to add a comment below.