Beware of airport parking roguesWarning over scams fleecing holidaymakers

30 August 2006

Airport sign directing travellers to the terminal.

Holidaymakers hoping to cut costs by using off-site airport parking have been warned about crooked operators who've ripped off consumers and left cars damaged.

The Trading Standards Institute (TSI) says it’s received a string of complaints about bogus and unreliable schemes.

In one case, holidaymakers Adam and Wendy Van-Doorinck, from Barry, South Wales, were stung for £106 when they paid up-front through a website.

The company offered to collect their car at Stansted Airport, park it at a nearby secure compound and have it ready on the couple’s return. But the service didn't exist and they've only just got their money back after a ten week investigation by police and trading standards officers (TSOs).

In other cases cars have been returned damaged, many miles added to the clock, or with other signs indicating they've been driven illegally in the owner’s absence. TSI has not named any of the companies concerned.

Parking fines and speeding tickets

There are also cases of customers later finding themselves lumbered with parking fines or speeding tickets.

The TSI is urging consumers to check the identity of on-line services offering parking near airports before handing over money.

TSI's lead officer on scams, Sarah Smith, said: ‘There are several perfectly legitimate services operating online which offer alternative parking facilities near to an airport. However, new websites are springing up all the time which claim to offer similar services but which are in fact run by conmen and crooks.’

‘Our advice to holidaymakers and business people considering using alternative parking services is to check airport websites for details of reputable operators in their area, and to check the company’s credentials very carefully.’

Shop around

In August, Which? revealed how travellers using off-site airport parking may not be getting the good deal they hoped for.

We checked prices of on- and off-site parking for seven days at the UK’s 11 biggest airports and found that at Stansted, it costs at least £18 more to park off site than in the airport.

At Belfast and Luton airports, it was also slightly more expensive to park off site, even though off-site car parks are further from the terminal.

But it’s still worth checking prices before you travel because you can save a lot at some larger airports, such as Edinburgh, Heathrow and Manchester.

At Manchester it was more than £19 cheaper off site - at just over £28 - while at Gatwick’s North Terminal parking was at least £15 cheaper off site.

To compare prices and book ahead to get a good deal you can visit the Airport Parking Shop, or try the individual airport’s site, or the BAA car parking site.