Buy With Confidence Battles Rogue Traders At Gatwick Airport
Ever wondered if your car is safe when you leave it with an airport parking service? The company looking after your property may make great claims on their website, but how do you know that when you’ve handed over your keys, your prized auto is in good hands?
West Sussex County Council Trading Standards Service uncovered that not all valet parking companies that operated in the Gatwick Airport area could be trusted after discovering that despite Air Parking Ltd.’s website claiming that they provided a service that was ‘secure’ ‘manned 24hrs’ and had ‘regular security patrols’, in reality if you left your car with them, it was likely to end up parked in an unsecured field, possibly with its window rolled down or its door unlocked. They even discovered a box of car keys left on the floor.
Following a thorough investigation and the company not changing its ways, West Sussex County Council took the company to court in August 2015, with the business pleading guilty to eight charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 for misleading consumers. They were fined £6,000, ordered to pay costs of £1070.36, a victim surcharge of £120 and court costs of £180.
While securing the conviction was great, how do you help protect the general public from having something similar happen to them in the future? And what about supporting the legitimate businesses who operate in the same sector, but where consumer faith in them may have been shaken by rogue operators?
Well, the answer West Sussex, legitimate Gatwick-based meet and greet operators and Gatwick Airport came up with was to use the Buy With Confidence approved trader scheme. Together they set up the London Gatwick approved off-airport parking scheme, allowing businesses that offer parking services away from the airport, a way to show that they are legitimate and committed to customer service.
Run in partnership with the British Parking Association, to be part of the scheme operators must be approved by Buy with Confidence and ParkMark, with the companies involved needing to ‘prove they can provide a high level of professionalism and service’.
Once approved they then become an Approved Operator, and are featured on the London Gatwick website as the only off-airport parking suppliers that the airport ‘recommend’ people use. The Buy With Confidence approval ensures that the businesses have been fully checked and vetted by qualified Trading Standards professionals to ensure they follow the law, know what their customers’ rights are, and that they provide good customer service.
Councillor Barling of West Sussex County Council commented following the prosecution of Air Parking Ltd., “Our trading standards service has been doing a lot of work to stamp out these types of rogue firms. We regularly receive complaints from customers who have suffered thefts from their cars, damage to their vehicles and excess mileage put on the odometer while their car had been in the care of some companies.
“Working jointly with Gatwick Airport and other partners such as Sussex Police and Surrey Trading Standards, we have taken this two pronged approach of supporting our legitimate valet parking operators through our approved Buy With Confidence scheme and stamping down on rogue traders such as Air Parking Ltd with enforcement action.”
The London Gatwick approved off-airport parking scheme is a great example of how Buy With Confidence is used across the country to protect the public and support good businesses. If you’re looking for a business you can trust, head over to BuyWithConfidence.gov.uk to find approved traders, and head here for more info about joining the scheme.