/ Motoring, Travel & Leisure

Meet-and-greet airport parking – safe and secure?

Meet and greet parking

How safe is your car when you leave it in the hands of an airport meet-and-greet parking company? You’d hope that your pride and joy is driven safely while you’re away. But that’s not always what we found…

One in ten Which? members have used an airport meet-and-greet service in the last two years and most haven’t had a problem. But nearly one in five who used this kind of parking service has had a problem.

So we tested the services provided by three companies who had received mixed reviews online. We used GPS trackers to see where our cars were parked and how fast they were driven. And we visited the car parks to see for ourselves to see how securely they were stored.

Meet-and-greet undercover investigation

At Stansted airport, shortly after leaving our car in the hands of a Meteor Meet and Greet driver, our car was driven at 98mph on its way to their car park. At Heathrow, the iPark Airport Parking driver hit 88 mph while returning our car to our researcher at the terminal. We left our car with RS09 at Gatwick – it was parked next to what appeared to be a pile of old car parts in a car park very different to the promotional image on its website.

Meteor Meet and Greet has suspended one of its drivers as a result of our investigation and told us: ‘The security of our customers’ vehicles is our main priority, and our drivers must abide by strict codes of conduct. We take any allegations of misconduct very seriously.’

RS09 told us: ‘We believe the service was as advertised and your car was parked safely and securely.’ We contacted iPark and asked it to comment on our findings. It hadn’t responded by the time we went to press.

Claims vs reality of meet-and-greet companies

Our investigation shows that for the three companies we looked at, the claims made on their websites didn’t match the reality. Cars were either driven at speed or parked in areas that didn’t match the car park shown online.

Meet-and-greet companies need to be honest about where our cars are parked and they need to drive them responsibly. Drivers shouldn’t think they can break the law by speeding, and descriptions of car parks need to match the reality.

Have you been taken for a ride by a meet-and-greet parking company?

Comments
Member

BBC Watchdog have caught out these meet-and-greet airport parking companies several times by similarly installing tracking devices and then finding their cars parked on public roads. This appears to be a widespread problem.

Member

I once hired a boat from a small company and they offered to park my car safely for the week. Quite by chance I found my car in a pub car park.

It’s not just airport parking where silly games are played.

Member

Meteor say this on their website : “Upon your return please call the number on your email confirmation to let us know you have arrived and we will return your car warmed up and ready to go”. I suppose their drivers are only doing what it says on the packet! I got a quote for our next journey from Heathrow and it came out at not much more than £8 a day over thirteen days. WE won’t be doing it though; we prefer to have a car take us all the way from home in a more restful way and without having to worry about our car.

Member
Paula from Help Me Park says:
25 June 2014

Anyone wishing to use meet and greet parking at Gatwick Airport should use a Gatwick Approved Operator.

Only companies that hold the Safer Parking ParkMark award for their car parks, hold Trading Standards Buy With Confidence accreditation and sign up to operate within Gatwick’s T&Cs can be accepted into the Approved Operator Scheme.

Member
James Bryant says:
4 July 2014

I used one at Southampton Airport a few months ago and was called in Switzerland by the police to advise me that my car was about to be towed because it was obstructing a factory entrance. I called the security at the factory and they very kindly agreed to work around my car until I returned four days later.

Member
Keith says:
15 July 2014

i am flying from Luton in mid September who are the best Meet & Greet at that airport?

Member

I had an issue with Meteor at Manchester airport once. Stood waiting for my car for 45 minutes after repeated calls asking where it was! Complained but never heard a thing. Never again.

Member
Hayley Williams says:
4 October 2014

We have just returned from holiday having used car park manchester airport, the service they provided was NOT meet and greet despite paying for it and when we complained they just shrugged us off. Run by cowboys, DO NOT USE!

Member