a man standing in a parking lot
Photograph ©2024 by Brian Cohen.

7 Reasons Why I Dislike Valet Parking

...and one reason why it can be useful.

To many people, valet parking is a service which usually signifies an upscale experience. The service does save the motorist from having to search for a parking spot — especially in the downtown or central area of a large city where few parking spaces are available. However, I have 7 reasons why I dislike valet parking.

7 Reasons Why I Dislike Valet Parking

The 7 reasons why I dislike valet parking are as follows:

  1. I Do Not Like People Who I Do Not Know Handling My Vehicle. Valets are usually not professional drivers. They are entrusted with personal vehicles, commercial vehicles, and rental vehicles to park them in unusually tight spaces that are not easily accessible. The possibility of damage or a mishap increases as a result.
  2. Anything Remotely Valuable Should Be Cleared From the Vehicle. Valuable items should never be stored in a vehicle — especially if they are in plain view, as that increased the chances of someone breaking into the vehicle. If there are any items of remote value — such as a few dollars in the change tray as one example — who is to say that the valet will not simply help himself or herself to it? If they do take anything of minor value, good luck trying to get them to admit it and return that item to you. If I know I will find myself in a situation where a valet parking my vehicle is possible, I will typically remove items of any value from it.
  3. Not Having Free Access to the Vehicle at All Times. If you stay at a hotel property that has free parking or self parking and you forgot something in the vehicle, you can simply go to the vehicle to retrieve it. With valet parking, retrieving a forgotten item becomes much more of an inconvenience.
  4. Waiting For the Vehicle to Return. When I am finished with whatever I am doing — whether dining in a restaurant or checking out of a hotel or resort property — I want to return to my vehicle immediately. However — more often than not — I have no choice but to wait a long time for the vehicle to be returned to me. My most recent experience was waiting greater than 16.5 minutes for a vehicle. Some people arrived later than me and yet received their vehicles prior to me receiving mine.
  5. High Cost. The cost for a valet to park a vehicle during my most recent experience was $43.00. Perhaps the location, cost of insurance, maintenance of a facility such as a garage, and pay for the valets might justify the high cost of having a vehicle parked by a valet — but what if the location is in a rural area where no covered facility for parked vehicles exists and self parking is not an option? How does that warrant the high cost of a valet parking a vehicle for a customer?
  6. The Lodging Company or Dining Establishment Has Nothing to Do With Valet Parking. More often than not, the valet does not work for the facility at which you dined or stayed as a guest. Rather, that person works for a company that is under an independent contractual agreement with the lodging company or dining establishment. This partnership becomes painfully clear in the event of when the experience goes wrong with the valet parking. The motorist is told that the valet does not work for the lodging company or dining establishment; and that the motorist must instead voice his or her dissatisfaction or issue directly with the company that provides valet parking.
  7. Tips and Gratuities. So a valet parks your vehicle and another one returns it when you are done with whatever you are doing. Why does this warrant a tip or gratuity in addition to the high cost of a valet parking the vehicle — especially if you would rather park your own vehicle but were not given the option?

Final Boarding Call

During my most recent experience with valet parking, another customer was overheard asking the valet if he could accompany him so that he could drive his vehicle back himself rather than the valet driving it for him. I am not sure what was the reason — perhaps he did not want to leave a tip; or maybe he drove a very expensive vehicle — but as much as I despise valet parking, I have never gotten to the point where I would place that request.

I can understand a tip or gratuity for the valet if valet parking is offered as a complimentary option and the valet was quick and careful with handling the vehicle. If a business requires that valet parking is the only option and charges significantly more money for it, then the valet should be paid a living wage instead of being tipped — even if that means increasing the cost of valet parking. Why should the customer pay twice?

Aside from the convenience of having someone else park a car for the customer, I really see little value in valet parking. It usually requires more time and more money — and potentially invites more problems and issues — than simply parking a vehicle myself…

…and I usually am rather good at finding parking — often at no charge — even in places such as New York, Atlanta, Memphis, or New Orleans…

Photograph ©2024 by Brian Cohen.

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