EXCLUSIVE: Newlyweds' dream Caribbean honeymoon was ruined when they came home to find their car had been …
Newlyweds Chris Reynolds, 33, and Amy, 31, were distraught when they returned from their honeymoon in the Caribbean to find their car had been written off by Gatwick Airport luxury valet service staff
A couple’s dream Caribbean honeymoon was ruined when they returned home to find their new car had been written off by a Gatwick Airport based luxury valet service.
Chris Reynolds, 33, and his new bride Amy, 31, paid £80 for a meet-and-greet concierge service so that their holiday of a lifetime to Grenada could start as soon as they arrived at the airport.
But they returned 10 days later to find their ‘formerly immaculate’ six-month-old Citroen DS3 worth £12,000 in a crumpled heap.
It had been written off when the firm’s courier crashed it into a fence while driving it to the firm’s secure parking site.
Speaking to MailOnline, bridegroom Chris fumed: ‘We’d saved up for our paradise island holiday to build memories to cherish for the rest of our lives. Now it’ll be forever tarnished by all the grief that was caused by my new car being written off.
‘I’m furious at what has happened, but there’s nothing that I can do about it.
‘We went on a dreamy, blissful honeymoon, with palm trees, white sandy beaches and cocktails. But we came home to a complete nightmare as soon as we landed.’
His wife Amy, a recruitment manager, added: ‘The stress that this has caused has put so much pressure on us when we’ve only just got married.
Crumpled heap: The couple returned after 10 days in Grenada to find their ‘formerly immaculate’ three-year-old Citroen DS3 worth £12,000 had been written-off
Smashed: It had been written off when the firm’s courier crashed it into a fence while driving it to the firm’s secure parking site
The newlyweds, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, used My Gatwick Parking through the www.wedealmeetandgreet.co.uk website to look after their car while they were away
Immaculate: The service even began badly, as the the couple said they were irritated when their concierge was over an hour late in meeting them at the airport, denying them access to the luxury lounge before they’d even taken off
‘I’m going to have to buy you a new car’: The couple were only told of the disaster when company boss Ada De Pinho escorted them to the mangled wreckage and offered to buy them a replacement
The newlyweds, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, used My Gatwick Parking through the www.wedealmeetandgreet.co.uk website to look after their car while they were away.
The couple said they were irritated when their concierge was over an hour late in meeting them at the airport, denying them access to the luxury lounge before they’d even taken off.
But it wasn’t until they called the firm on their return that the company boss Ada De Pinho told them: ‘I’m very sorry but I’m going to have to buy you a new car.’
They were taken to see what was left of their car and it wasn’t until several hours later they finally got a taxi home following an overnight 10-hour flight.
Chris continued: ‘We were exhausted from flying but we had to hang around and go to their premises before we finally got a cab home. I just couldn’t believe the state of our formerly immaculate car I hadn’t even finished paying off.
‘They said that their Eastern European driver had crashed into a fence on a country lane while driving the car from the airport to the car park.’
Trip ruined: They were taken to see what was left of their car and it wasn’t until several hours later they finally got a taxi home following an overnight 10-hour flight
The couple received £12,000 in compensation for the wrecked vehicle in November
The couple received £12,000 in compensation for the wrecked vehicle in November.
They have bought a new Audi with the compensation plus a further £1,500 that they have financed themselves.
They say they lost around £1,000 when their Citroen, that they only bought in April last year, was written off in the cost of insuring their car hire and other insurance fees.
Their claim was further complicated and delayed by a landowner making a claim for damage to their fence.
Chris added: ‘It took two weeks for the insurance company to get what they needed to even process the claim.
‘I spent hours on the phone chasing them, getting more and more wound up by the delays. It was so frustrating.
‘It took two months and all my limited free time chasing everyone before I was finally able to buy my new Audi A4 after getting an insurance pay-out.
‘I was left with a trashed car, £1,000 out of pocket and a big headache. It’s not the best way to start married life.’
Amy said: ‘We’d planned for a perfect wedding and honeymoon, right down to every last detail.
They say they lost around £1,000 when their Citroen was written off in the cost of insuring their car hire and other insurance fees
They have bought a new Audi with the compensation plus a further £1,500 that they have financed themselves
‘We used the luxury valet service to take all the stress out of flying, for what had seemed like a bargain.
‘We wouldn’t even park in an airport car park now after what’s happened. It’s just not worth the grief.
Director Ada De Pinho told MailOnline: ‘I’m more than happy to talk to you regarding Mrs and Mr Reynolds. My office manager was the one that dealt more with them. She’s on holiday.’
A spokesman for Gatwick Airport said: ‘Whilst we recognise the distress and inconvenience caused, and sympathise with the passengers that have been affected by this incident, Gatwick Airport has no relationship with We Deal Meet and Greet as it is not an officially approved off-airport parking operator.
‘Gatwick Airport strongly recommends that passengers use official on-airport parking or companies registered with Gatwick’s off-airport approved parking operators’ scheme. More information about the scheme can be found at www.gatwickairport.com/parking/other-parking-options/operator-scheme/.’
Which? Travel Editor Rory Boland said: ‘Airport meet-and-greets can be cheaper than getting a taxi to and from the airport and claim to offer peace of mind about the safety of your car while you’re on holiday. In reality, handing over your keys to a stranger can feel like a leap of faith.
‘Meet-and-greet providers should live up to the claims on their websites, by driving our cars safely and parking them securely.
‘Anyone thinking of using this kind of service should do their research and check with the British Parking Association that their parking company is accredited.’
A Which? meet-and-greet checklist suggests asking for ID and a receipt when handing keys over, noting petrol and mileage at drop-off and pick-up, taking before and after photos and videos and looking for the Park Mark blue logo, awarded to car parks that have passed a police risk assessment. Further information is available at: www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-rights-act