How to handle long waits for valet to return your car.

On Twitter, the most common complaint about valet parking is slow service. (If you have to catch a plane, it's probably best not to valet park somewhere. An inadequately staffed valet parking service really could cause you to miss your flight.)

Many consumers have been inconvenienced with long waits to have their cars returned to them. And they simply tolerate it instead of making the valet service accountable.

But some consumers are bolder. They are paying for a luxury service. They expect to get a luxury service. And when they instead get a slow service that inconveniences them, costs them lost time, and sucks away some momentary joy-of-life through the aggravation caused by inadequate service, these consumers put their foot down. They don't accept it.

They are among the small percentage who understand the art of complaining, especially at luxury properties.

If you become the victim of excessively slow valet service, then you ask to speak to the valet manager. You calmly explain the facts by saying something like:

"I paid for a luxury service and your company failed to provide it. Consequently, I have been inconvenienced; I lost valuable time, and I'm really annoyed right now. I understand that sometimes service businesses like yours experience glitches, but I do not accept not getting what I paid for. Therefore, I want my parking fee refunded right now, and I am really going to go crazy if I don't get my car back within the next 5 minutes."

If you get a bullshit story about how a refund is not possible, then you summon the head manager of the venue. If you are at a hotel, then you want the hotel manager to hear about how their valet service has crossed the line by handing unacceptably poor service to you. Then you say precisely what you want for the situation to be made right.

Say that you want your entire parking fee removed from the bill. Say that you want an additional $50 taken off your hotel bill as compensation for all the aggravation inflicted upon you (or whatever figure seems appropriate).

(If you are a guest at a luxury hotel, they might surprise you with an amenity of some kind and more intensive personal service and care.)

At a luxury property, that's how it works. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. UNLESS you go overboard with your tone. If you behave like an asshole, they might just decide that they would rather not have you as a guest in the future. (Really.)

Being cordial, yet firm and resolute, will usually produce results.

So how could it take 30, 45, even 60 minutes to get your car back from a valet service?

  1. Staffing mistakes happen. Sometimes a valet manager under-staffs a shift. Sometimes an event brings far more people and cars than were expected. This can easily lead to a fiasco.

  2. Workers sometimes don't show up for work. This totally happens. You know, a lot of these workers are college students. A little too much drinking the night before can lead to a staffing shortage. Or if one of the valet guys decided to do legs at the gym last night, he might suddenly realize that he is unable too run.

  3. Valet parking companies sometimes have great difficulty hiring new workers. It's difficult to find quality suckers to work for peanuts in all weather conditions.

Well, if you get hit with slow service, it is not unreasonable to ask for your money back, or some other concession. Try it out!