Armchair Traveller

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Passenger's car hired out by airport parking staff

Passenger's car hired out by airport parking staff

Man returns from holiday to find his wheels were used as a rental

A British holidaymaker parked his car with Luton Airport's valet service before taking off for a week of sun in Cyprus. But he returned to find that the parking service hired his car out as a rental to an Aussie businessman visiting London.

Dean Dolling only discovered the quirky cock-up when he returned from his vacation and found someone else's business papers and receipts in his back seat.

The valet service claims to offer '24-hour patrolled parking', but shares a compound with a rental agency. And through what can only be described as a supreme stuff-up, some "highly unusual system errors" led to Dolling's ride being rented out to the Australian tourist.

Dolling collected his Hyundai and noted, "It was obvious the car was not in the condition I had left it." But he hadn't a clue how receipts charged to someone he'd never met could end up in his vehicle. He then received a phone call from Down Under.

The Aussie realised that his alleged hire car obviously belonged to someone else, and found Dolling's digits in the glovebox.

"If he hadn't alerted me, I would be none the wiser," said Dolling.

Dolling was offered apologies and $800 in compensation, but after contacting the BBC's consumer programme Watchdog the ante was upped to just over $4000.

Have you ever been the victim of a "highly unusual system error" on the road? Tell us about it below.

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User comments
My husband was a member of the RAAF. Sometimes a posting will come up where the famililes are required to put their belongings into storage as they are either- 1) going oversea's or 2) posted to an area where "fully furnished" housing is given. While the families furniture is in storage, it is hired out to families who don't have sufficient furniture. This would have remained a secret if it wasn't for the fact that when the original people returned and required their furniture at their next posting - the lounge suites had been cleaned and were wrapped in plastic. Tables had been polished and repaired where they had gone into storage with a chip or a wobble. Some furniture had been replaced, because it had been destroyed during the "hired out" stage. Cars that go into storage are probably suffering the same fate. LOL.
I once had my F100 stolen from outside a community hall. The theif was a kind soul though. As I hitch-hiked home, who should I be offered a lift by, but the theif in my vehicle. On arrival near my place I took the keys and gave im a slappin'
I rarely take holidays, finally I had 2 weeks in Cairns, hired a car from a local company after the larger companies advised they were bereft of vehicles.It was a highly modified VW beetle, ie converted to a convertible fitted with fibreglass panels etc. I noticed the smell of fuel as i drove it back to the hotel, after a quick inspection, phoned the hire company to be rebuffed, offered no other vehicle, and incurring the full hire charges when returned. I was miffed, so i contacted the Cairns road traffic authority for advice, the car was far from roadworthy.They arranged to inspect the car that day, and after a quick check, applied a sticker to the vehicle forbidding further use. I then returned the car, argued in person with the owner, and refused to pay. He accepted the situation in the end. Noting the sticker, i mentioned that i had been pulled over for a routine check by police, so the car was condemned until repaired and reinspected. Big $$$ lost, they deserved every bit of it
The only system error is they failed to clean the car properly and the owner found out by other means. You can bet this happens all the time, make money of the cars of others while on holidays.
The only system error was that they got caught! You can bet this happens all the time, this is just the first time the system of cleaning the owner's car properly failed!

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