Beware Rogue Traders
10th February 2015
19 months on and the Approved Operator Scheme for meet and greet companies at Gatwick is establishing itself in the minds of the public albeit slowly. Created to protect the public from the ‘rogue’ element of valet parking the public are becoming more conscious of the scheme.
Gatwick Airport Ltd has raised the awareness of the public by strategic placing of signs at the entry and exit points of the terminals. These signs promote the use of Approved Operators only for meet and greet parking and actively discourage the use of non-approved operators. This however, has not stopped the non-approved operators from trading within the Multi Storey Car Parks. It should also be noted that these activities whilst non-approved, are not unauthorised as it would appear that Gatwick Airport has no power to prevent these activities.
The amazing growth in popularity of valet parking over the last ten years is equal to the number of people who have forsaken park and ride in favour of it. This will simply mean that at peak periods demand will outstrip supply of accredited operations. This is when the ‘rogue’ element will step in so beware.
So, cheap valet parking is still out there if you want to take the risk. Only seven operators out of a total of 30 odd have met the criteria as laid down by the relevant authorities. My advice is, if you require a parking space at Gatwick with the luxury of valet parking – book your parking service early.
7th November 2013
The number of non-approved meet and greet parking operators has not diminished since the inception of the Gatwick Approved Parking Scheme. There are still a significant number of these rogue operators offering cheap prices by parking vehicles in muddy fields and council car parks and avoiding the business rates, VAT and business tax associated with established businesses. If they upset a Customer they don't care as the money is already in their pocket and with PPC (pay per click) campaigns, there is plenty more where that came from. Their attraction to Customers is primarily the word 'cheap' and a fancy web site with professional photos downloaded free from the internet. One web site actually had a photo of a supermarket car park.
1st October 2013
From July 10th 2013 the Gatwick Approved Operator Scheme for Meet and Greet Operators was installed at Gatwick Airport. The last few years has seen a considerable amount of bad practice in the industry. This has generally been caused by a substantial number of new operators setting up without any investment in their infrastructure.
Only Approved Operators are now allowed to use the Terminal Forecourts for pick up and drop off of Customers Vehicles. All non-approved operators must use the multi-storey car parks and pay the going rate to enter them. This has caused a considerable amount of confusion for the Customer and has led to a number of 'incidents'.
Beware Rogue Traders!
With the ability of 'get rich quick' schemes building professional looking web sites overnight, we thought it would be a good idea to put together a few pointers to assist you in your choice of car park at Gatwick Airport.
- Avoid web sites that only display mobile numbers for your only point of contact.
- Ensure the web site displays a land line number in case of dispute or otherwise.
- All good web sites will display a Companies House Number, VAT Number and Registered Address. This is a requirement of the Trading Standards Office.
- Good companies will publish the exact location of their car park and not just state 'your car will be stored a few minutes from the airport'. Some rogue web sites show a 'google map' of their location but this is their offices and not a car park as you are led to believe.
- Don't be mislead by professional photos of car parks or CCTV in operation. Very often these images have been downloaded from the internet and have nothing to do with that particular operation or business.
- Make sure the car park is LOCAL to the Terminals. If you leave your passport or that 'teddy bear' in the car you will want to retrieve it quickly. Besides, It is hardly environmentally friendly if the car park is 'miles' from the terminals or indeed easy on your fuel tank!!
- You would be wise to only select an Approved Operator for your Gatwick Meet and Greet Parking. If you want to go 'cheaper' then the non-approved operators are available to take your money. You should be aware however, there is a risk involved. Ponder this :- If the web site does not state a Company Number or VAT number then it is most likely that the web site is owned by a sole trader with a turnover of less than 60K a year. In this event they could not possibly have 1. a licensed car park, 2. effective insurance or 3. run the maintenance on a fully secure car park. Where would this leave you, the vehicle owner, if something happened!
- All good and reputable Valet Car Parking companies will publish the location of their car park on their web site. If they don't then it is reasonable to assume that they don't want you to know where they store your vehicles as the site does not offer everything they advertise on their web site. Do not accept statements like ' We cannot divulge where we store your car for insurance or security purposes'. This is rubbish as you should know where your car is at all times to satisfy your own insurance conditions. Two years ago, 28 vehicles were burnt out on a farm caused by a careless discard of a cigarette. This site did not have appropriate planning permission and the matter is still yet to be finalised in terms of insurance. Nobody wants this sort of hassle so the advice here is ' only use an approved operator'.
This is a picture of the Gatwick Racecourse taken in C1930. It is now buried beneath the South Terminal