A couple claim they have been left with £10,000 of debt after a ‘meet and greet’ company’s driver crashed their car while allegedly uninsured.
MCP Gatwick Parking promised to safely store Sandra and Domenico Carnivale’s Vauxhall Zafira but wrote it off three and-half-hours after being handed the keys.
The company driver veered on to the wrong side of the road, according to the other driver involved in the crash, and is being investigated by police.
Mr and Mrs Carnivale, from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, were four days into their holiday in Turkey when they learned their car had been involved in a serious road crash with another vehicle.
But their shock turned into disbelief and then anger when they discovered they won’t get a penny because of an insurance nightmare.
Sandra and Domenico Carnivale’s Vauxhall Zafira was written off by a meet and greet firm whose driver is under investigation for driving without the correct insurance
The company driver veered on to the wrong side of the road, according to the other driver involved in the crash
They were even forced to pay £550 to the police to scrap the car, worth around £8,500, and claim that MCP Gatwick Parking is ignoring their calls.
Mr Carnivale said: ‘It’s too late for us, but I just want to warn people not to use this company. I will never use a meet and greet company again. I want people to know what he’s done to us so no one will book with his company again’.
Mrs Carnivale, who relies on the vehicle for her work as a childminder, said: ‘My advice now to people thinking of using a meet and greet company would be to go to the airport’s approved list of companies. I’ve found out since all this that every airport has an approved list on their websites.
‘I would tell anyone using these companies to check with them that all their drivers are fully insured to drive other people’s vehicles.’
She added: ‘I am childminder and without a car my work suffered. I couldn’t sleep because of the worry. We would be getting up in the middle of the night so we could get on the computer to carry out research into MCP. It’s been so upsetting and the effect on us has been unbelievable.’
MailOnline has made repeated attempts to contact MCP Gatwick Parking.
The couple’s nightmare began on July 2 this year at 5.30am when they pulled up in the Orange Car Park at Gatwick Airport having left their home earlier that morning in Aylesbury, Bucks.
They were flying out for an 11 day holiday in Turkey and with them was their teenage son and Sandra’s parents.
The couple had booked a meet and greet company who would take possession of their car and store it safely for the period they were away, before meeting them with the vehicle on their return.
The couple say their holiday was ruined when they discovered that a driver for the company they had paid to store their car, wasn’t insured to drive it that morning.
The inside of the Carnevale’s shattered car, which they had to pay police to scrap even though the crash was on their holiday
Their own insurance company say they are not liable because the couple had handed over their car for someone else to drive.
Tesco Bank, who are the couple’s insurers, say they should take up the matter with the meet and greet company they left their car with.
But MCP have allegedly told Sandra and Domenico that the driver they employed at the time of the crash was only a part time worker who had the responsibility of insuring his own vehicle to drive other people’s cars.
Domenico and Sandra want their experience to be a lesson to others considering using a meet and greet service
It’s been discovered the driver that day had no such insurance and as a result is now in the process of being prosecuted by Surrey Police for driving without valid insurance.
It means that Sandra, 49, a child minder and her husband, 50 year old Domenico, a care home maintainance worker have been left ‘high and dry’ with a car that’s been written off and and no prospect of receiving an insurance payout to replace it.
And they are particularly scathing of the meet and and greet company, MCP Gatwick Parking and its boss, Chris Smith, who they paid to look after their 2014 registered Vauxhall Zafira which was worth around £8500 when it was involved in the crash.
They say as a director of the company he is legally responsible for ‘entire debacle’ by failing to have procedures in place to make due diligence checks on people he employed to drive customers cars. They say he failed to check whether drivers were fully covered.
According to the company’s website it employs professional, fully insured drivers and CCTV cameras watch over its compounds.
It was four days into their holiday on July 6 that couple discovered during FaceTime call to their 21 year old son back in Aylesbury, that a letter had arrived for them informing them that their Zafira had been involved in a serious road accident with another vehicle.
The letter said the vehicle had been recovered from the scene of the crash in Charlwood near Crawley and was being stored at the yard of Hobbs Recovery Service in Copthorne.
Sandra and Domenico immediately called the company who told them their car had been involved in a collision at 9.06am on the morning of July 2 and as a result of the damage it was not driveable.
MCP Gatwick Parking promised to safely store the car after being picked up by ‘fully insured and highly experienced’ drivers
The couple were advised to ring MCP Gatwick Parking.
Mr Carnivale said ‘We rang MCP and spoke to a woman. She said ‘Oh yes, don’t worry we were going to inform you, but we didn’t want to worry you or spoil your holiday. She said they were going to tell us the day before we were due to arrive home.
‘She said the driver who had been behind the wheel of our car that morning and who was a different driver to the one who had taken our car at the car park, had been seriously injured in the crash and had a ruptured spleen. She said we should get in touch with our own insurance company.’
The family say the crash while they were away on holiday has seen them stuck in an insurance nightmare
Sandra said ‘We phoned our insurance company, Tesco Bank and when we explained what had happened they said they couldn’t deal with any claim because at the time of the crash our vehicle was in the care of MCP who had responsibility for it and it would be covered by their insurance.’
Once more the couple who were becoming increasingly anxious about the situation called MCP Gatwick Parking and this time spoke to the boss, Chris Smith.
Domenico said ‘ He was insisting it was our own insurance company that we should deal with.’
The couple say as a result of MCP refusing to accept liability for any insurance claim, their holiday was ruined.
Sandra Carnivale said: ‘We couldn’t think of anything else the entire time we were away. We had saved up hard all year for the trip with our son and my mum and dad and we had been so looking forward to it. But I think my mum and dad could sense we were not happy. But by then we could smell a rat and our holiday had been ruined.’
Surrey Police have since told the husband and wife that they are in the process of prosecuting the driver of their Zafira that morning for driving without the correct insurance.
The couple says despite repeated requests for a copy of the driver’s insurance details. MCP have failed to send them.
They say they have pointed out to Chris Smith that his driver that morning was not covered by insurance to drive the Zafira and he should therefore contact his own insurance company or Public Liability insurance and claim for the accident because the car was his responsibility at the time, but he refuses.
‘He is not taking any responsibility at all,’ said Sandra.
Sandra and Domenico says they have struggled over the weeks to contact him or get him to take their calls.
The couple say they have also found out through investigations carried out by their own insurance company that Smith has owned similar companies and been taken to court in the past.
In one case featured on a BBC website, cars left with a previous company he owned called RS09 were used privately while the owners were on holiday
When sued he simply dissolves a company and doesn’t meet any of the financial responsibilities placed on him, it has been claimed.
Mrs Carnivale said: ‘It means that despite being assured we would win any case hands down, the likelihood or us getting anything from him is zero’.
Rather than fork out £1300 to have their written off car transported by Hobbs back to their home in Aylesbury the couple have now formally ‘disclaimed’ the vehicle which cost them £550.
‘MCP are clearly not legitimate,’ said Domenico who said they had made a formal complaint to the company.
The couple say the whole experience has affected them emotionally and financially.