Valet gets caught joyriding with a customer's McLaren supercar.

I haven't posted here at RealValetControl.com in a while because it is basically the same old shit, over and over. Every day cars get damaged. Every day valets steal things from their customers' cars. Every day keys get lost. But this particular episode of valet parking monkey business is interesting...

A hotel customer entrusted his McLaren to the hotel's valet service. It appears the customer woke up early, looked out his window and saw his car was missing. How could he go back to sleep at that point?

Of course he went downstairs to investigate. From the video it's clear he caught the valet red-handed.

I mean... this is crazy. Some valet parking services actually don't have insurance coverage for cars costing more than $100,000. That car never should have been moved unless it was absolutely necessary.

Clearly this valet worker had extremely poor judgment. Not only did he take a very expensive (and noisy) exotic sportscar out for an unauthorized joy ride, he also showed the customer that he was carrying a concealed handgun(!). Wow... 

Are there really valet parking companies that allow their workers to carry handguns? 

I'm surprised the customer told the valet to park it. I would have stayed calm and told the valet:

  • "Stop the car."

  • "Turn it off."
    At this point I would use a smartphone to photograph the valet's face, (if I had an extra phone available).

  • "Get out."

  • "Give me my key."

  • Now it is time for some questioning. If you are in a "one party consent" state, then have your phone already recording the dialog. (Two party states require both parties to be aware that a conversation is being recorded. If this law is broken, you can be prosecuted and even do jail time, so be aware of which kind of state you are in.)

    "What's your name? Say your name again. I didn't hear it."
    "How long have you been valet parking cars here?"
    "This is important... Did you hit any potholes?"
    "Are there any red light cameras around here?"
    "Do you know if you went through any red lights?"
    "Let me see your driver's license." (Take a photo of it, then hold on to it.)
    "Why were you driving my car?"
    "Be honest with me."
    "Is this the first time you've driven a car like mine?"
    "You know you shouldn't have been driving my car. Where did you go?"
    "Did anyone else ride in it?"
    "Did anyone else drive it? Are you sure?"
    "Did any of your co-workers know that you were taking my car for a spin?
    "Did you drive my car soft and easy or a little bit aggressive?"
    "Be honest with me, because the performance data recorder is going to tell me everything."
    "At any point did you rev up the engine?
    "How high?"
    "Would you say it was light or aggressive revving?"
    "How fast did you go?"
    "What's the fastest you went?" (Yes, a second probe here.)
    "Did you burn any rubber?"
    "At any point did the tires squeal?"
    "How high did the rpms go?"
    "Did you do any heavy breaking?"
    "How long were you behind the wheel?"
    "Did you take any selfie photos in or around my car?"
    "Did you post or brag anywhere on social media about it."
    "How often do you do this sort of thing?"
    "Do other valets here sometimes take cars out for a ride?"
    "Do they do it more than you?"
    "Did you take anything out of my car?"
    "Did anybody take anything out of my car?"
    "Where is your manager?"
    "When is your shift scheduled to be over?"
    "Is there any reason why I should cut you a break?"

That's probably enough questions. (Give the license back.) The idea is to get the valet talking to strengthen your case for compensation from the hotel.

This is a multi-night free event.

This means all hotel charges for this stay refunded plus a completely free multi-day stay at the hotel in the future, all parking fees refunded, free dinner for two at the hotel's restaurant, and reimbursement for the absolutely necessary vehicle inspection to assess however the valet may have damaged the car with reimbursement guaranteed for all repairs costs.

The video evidence you got makes the case strong. It is a publicity bombshell. If they treat you right, which means prompt and substantial compensation, then you keep it quiet. If they do what is typical, which is to stall and dodge, then you get ahold of one of those consumer reporters at your most popular local TV news station and ask for help in getting action. 

Unauthorized joy rides is just one of the risks of using valet parking sevices.

I will take a guess that this valet had little or no McLaren experience.

From my own experience as a former valet worker, I can tell you that once you drive 50 or 100 Porsche 911 cars, or whatever, it's totally no big deal. You just park it, and that's it.

But if it's a first time event with a particular sports car, the valets will almost fight over who gets to drive it. And believing that this might be the only chance to ever drive one of these, they are going to take some liberties with it. This is something they are going to enjoy. It's one of the reasons why they sought this job--to drive cars like this.

Only the most seasoned, most experienced valets should park high value cars like this, especially the sports cars. Rookies don't belong in these cars.

Overnight valet workers at hotels usually work alone. There is no supervision.

From 11 at night to 2 in the morning there might be bursts of activity here and there... then it gets slow until the very-early-morning-risers begin to request their cars. That dead period between 2 and 4:30 is prime time for joyriding and other mischief.

If you've got a fancy car, tip big ($20) and have them leave it on the driveway, with you holding the keys. Problem solved.

I remember at one of the hotels I worked at we had an overnight guy who was extremely aggressive and rough with our customers' cars. He especially enjoyed going full-throttle in our parking garage whenever he got behind the wheel of a Maserati. (And boy, those things were loud.)

I would tell him in a cordial way that he should knock it off. He would agree with me. But then I'd catch him going way too fast again!

I didn't rat him out because I felt the loss of his job would soon send his life down the toilet. He needed that job, and he knew it. And he knew he would have a difficult time finding a replacement job. Yet, that knowledge didn't stop his reckless driving. It was his habit.

Oh, he had skills. He could handle those cars very well. But it was outrageous. And risky.