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How to avoid a meet and greet rip-off

Last updated: 10th January 2019

As the market leader in UK airport parking, we’re pleased to see Rip Off Britain Holidays used the first episode of their new series to highlight the dangers of booking Meet and Greet airport parking with unreliable operators.

Rip Off Britain Holidays episode 1 January 2019

Meet and Greet is a great service and can help take the hassle out of any holiday. Rather than parking your car yourself, you just drive up to the terminal, hand your keys over to a professional driver, and stroll up to your gate while they move your car the short distance to a secured parking facility nearby. But it’s vital to pick the right supplier - like almost any industry, there are a handful of unscrupulous operators and pitfalls to watch out for.

We’ve been selling airport parking for more than 35 years - we’re the UK’s longest-established player in this market. So we know what to do, and what not to do, when making sure your car will be brought back safe and sound at the end of your trip.

1. Make sure there's someone to talk to

we're her to help

First and foremost, make sure there’s someone on the end of the phone who you trust to look after your car, and who you think will look after you in the unlikely event something goes wrong. Anyone can set up a website and claim to be a parking company, so if you’re at all concerned that your car might not be looked after, give them a ring and see what they say. At Holiday Extras our award-winning call centre is available 8am-9pm on weekdays and 8.30am-8pm at weekends. You can talk to us on 0871 360 2603, or contact us here.

In the recent episode of Rip-Off Britain, customers encountered problems with two operators. One, Connect Parking, has since ceased trading, but the other, “MCP Parking”, appears from their website to still be operating. MCP Parking even lists a landline phone number on their contact us page - but if you call that number it doesn’t exist. If you’re at all concerned about the reputability of the people you’re going to trust with your car, make sure you can speak to someone at the company, and assure yourself you’d really be happy to leave your car with them.

2. Check for photos and videos of the parking service you're buying

Product photos on the Holiday Extras website

At Holiday Extras, we’ve tried, tested and recommended the products we offer. We’ve visited, reviews, photographed and filmed most of the car parks, hotels and lounges on our website, which means if you’re booking through us, more often than not you can see what we’ve seen when we went to check them out. Have a look at the website and check whether there’s evidence the company you’re dealing with have visited the car parks they’re offering and checked them out.

3. Check for an Approved Operator scheme

Gatwick Airport Approved Operator Scheme

If the airport from which you’re flying uses an Approved Operator scheme for Meet and Greet Parking, check that the parking service you’ve chosen is on the list. For example, Gatwick Airport has an approved operator scheme. All of the Meet and Greet providers that Holiday Extras uses are on that scheme, so you can book any of our suppliers with confidence.

4. Check that the parking provider you’re using has been issued a Park Mark

Park Mark is a collaboration between the Association of Chief Police Officers and the British Parking Association. Car parks that achieve the Park Mark - approximately one quarter of all car parks in the UK - have been inspected by specially-trained police assessors for their management practices and security measures.

Every car park that Holiday Extras offers, with a handful of exceptions due normally to car parks being either new or in the process of finalising planning, has achieved the Park Mark accreditation. That means the parking facilities have been inspected and approved by the scheme - so unlike the muddy fields that were being used as car parks in Rip-off Britain, you can be sure your car will be in a proper, secured parking facility.

5. Make sure you’re leaving your keys with insured, professional drivers

All of the Meet and Greet companies we use are required to have fully-insured, professional drivers. Before you leave your car with someone, check that your car will be insured the whole time it’s in their care.

At Holiday Extras we’ve been parking cars at the airport for more than 35 years. We employ almost 1000 people in the UK, including more than 200 trained travel consultant on the end of the phone in our award-winning call centre at our headquarters in Kent.

In 2018 more than 3.2 million people parked their cars through us, saving an average of £59.11 each versus the price they’d have paid on the day by pre-booking. Over the past three years more than one million of our customers rated our airport parking 90% out of 100. So when we say we look after millions of cars for millions of satisfied customers, we really mean it.

Any industry can attract its share of cowboys and rogue operators, and it pays to be careful whenever you’re spending your money. But we pride ourselves on working only with trusted partners, particularly in Meet and Greet, and in doing everything we can to look after our customers cars. If you follow these simple rules to make sure you’re using a parking company you can trust, Meet and Greet is a great way to take the hassle out of your airport parking.

Book your holiday extras early

If you're booking airport parking, it pays to book early. Prices usually go up nearer the date you fly, and last year Holiday Extras saved our airport parking customers £59 each on average when they pre-booked their airport parking instead of paying on the day.

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If your question is urgent, you can reach us on 0871 360 2603 or +44 1303 816201 when you're calling from abroad. Our contact centre is open from 8am to 9pm on weekdays and 8.30am to 8pm on weekends.

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