A furious holidaymaker who left his Hyundai car with a valet parking service arrived back from his trip, only to discover it had been hired out to an Australian tourist.
Dean Dolling, who left his car in the safety of Airparks, which offers ‘secure 24-hour patrolled parking’, at Luton Airport, discovered the truth only after finding business papers belonging to a stranger scattered across the back seat.
The disgruntled customer, from Buckinghamshire, said: ‘It was obvious the car was not in the condition I had left it.’
When collecting his car he complained to Airparks, but staff assured him the car had been kept in its secure car park.
With his suspicions already high, Mr Dolling then received a phone call which connected all the dots.
The call was from a man in Australia who told him what had happened. ‘He said he had recently visited England and had hired a car on arrival at Luton Airport.
‘When he picked it up, it was clear to him that it belonged to someone else. If he hadn’t alerted me, I would be none the wiser.’
The scandal will be broadcast by the BBC’s Watchdog programme tonight and raises serious concerns as to whether these firms can be trusted.
Since Mr Dolling’s return, it emerged that the company was sharing its compound with the hire-car company Green Motion, which rented the vehicle out.
The company responsible has blamed a series of ‘highly unusual system errors’ for the incident, however later offered Mr Dolling £500 in compensation, which was boosted to £2,500 after Watchdog became involved.
Airparks said it ‘apologised unreservedly’ for what had happened.
However, this is one of many horror stories involving families leaving their cars with airport parking services.
In another case, Andy and Nicola Halls left their Audi A3 with Gatwick Meet and Greet before heading off on their holidays to Tenerife in July.
Hours later they received an upsetting phone call from the police, informing them that their vehicle had been written off after an 18-year-old employee, who had no insurance, had taken it for a ride and crashed and abandoned the car on the M23.