The Situation: A reader went to a restaurant and valet parked.
The Outcome: The reader got the car back at night and trusted that everything was fine...
But something went wrong, and the vehicle got damaged.
Here is the reader's story...
Out for dinner. Restaurants in the area use valet company/service. Pulled up, got ticket, paid, and walked across street to restaurant on Saturday night. Upon leaving restaurant, it appears the valet just pulled my car up a few feet and street parked. He opened the passenger doors for my father and son, while I got to the driver's door which was facing me.
I very rarely drive downtown but easier to drive when I am out with my 90 year old father. I did not check my car--again it was only moved a few feet. Wrong! Got home and the whole passenger side is side swiped! I assume the valet tried to garage park and hit a wall! As you can see this is not a tiny dent or scratch. He broke the running board, scratches, dents from back door to tire wheel well. So, he certainly hid the car damage knowing my 90 year old dad would not see it at 10pm at night! And parked the car on same side of street as I had driven up making me think he just street parked it a few feet from his valet stand.
My ticket he gave me has no company name on it, just a valet ticket number of 21. There is a large area with various restaurants and several valet stands. I assume they are all the same company. But, even I know I left and would not be able to prove he did it unless the garage has video cameras that would show he was driving it and did it! But dinner out $170, parking is now my insurance deductible of $500! Plus the $10 parking fee and I tipped him $5! Thanks for telling me you wrecked my car valet!
Be very careful in Market Square area of Pittsburgh--fine dining restaurants with bad valet drivers!
The Lesson: Trust no valet!
The stories continues...
On a further note--never give up. I researched valets in the area and it is one company there and after some digging, I tracked down the company. I was so upset--did not think to return to the scene today to look for my running board parts on the ground.
But also had a son who had to get to soccer...
But tracked them down and the manager of the valet service said my car was probably not pulled into the garage as it was a slow night, might have been on the street the whole time, but cameras would indicate if the car was moved. The valet driver is new he also told me. There are street and garage cameras he said.
I called about 3pm and no answer. I did not leave a message.
Figure I would pique their curiosity. Turns out the manager/company did call me back saying my number was on his caller ID. I asked if they do valet for that restaurant to which he said yes. I explained the damage and said I would send pics. He was defensive. I told him I realize I cannot prove it because I did not see it upon getting in my car/accepting it from the valet. Sadly, I would not have seen the scrapes due to snow on Friday--salt, dirt, rain marks/spots on it from Sat driving into town. But, I would have seen the running board if I had checked. And because I did pick my parents up, earlier and I helped them into the passenger side of the car, and there was no damage to running board at 7:30pm. I drove them home, dropped them off and went home. Found damage Sun morning. I noticed just the running board.
I immediately went to a brushless car wash to look for more damage when car was clean. What a shock!
So--I know it was valet. I garage park my car at home. And it is evident from scrapes it was not another car.
Manager said he would look into it further. He called back in 30 mins with a very different attitude. Much nicer. And told me the driver did go into the garage. I realize from the damage, that he had to round a corner too sharp. As you can see the serious indentation in the middle of the running board, then scraping back door and wheel well.
The manager said he will investigate further and get back to me in a few days. He apologized as well.
But he also stated his insurance Liberty Mutual requires customers to report it upon car pick up.
Luckily, we are retired military with excellent USAA insurance and things will go smoothly for a repair with USAA. But--word to your readers--hassle! When this happens it requires lots of your time--filing a claim, going to body shop, estimate, appraisal, waiting for parts, leaving car for weeks or going back when parts are in, leaving to be repaired, car rental, getting $ from insurance.
This is not a small ding and will be quite costly. Definitely a new running board, but possibly a new door due to damage on door piece and new plastic parts below door and wheel well. Had it been minor, I would accept my part--not inspecting my car at pick up--and not bothered the insurance company. I take pride in my car and prefer it to look nice so would have fixed it for even less than my deductible. Not calling insurance company or tracking valet company down.
This is also first time for car damage...so very upsetting when you did not do the damage yourself and the the time commitment it will take now to fix.
Thanks for your site and blog. I will never valet again. Sadly, some hotels only valet. Found that out at a Canadian hotel--and they park them about 2 miles away! Can you imagine if a car hits your car while they are driving! But what choice do you have? You'd like to think they are careful--but they cannot control another driver!
But I will avoid them and self park for restaurants! I wanted to use metro service but was impossible with my parents joining us to celebrate my son's 13th birthday. They do not drive and telling them to take a bus at night would be rude. Might have to get everyone to learn how to use the Uber app.
So far, this night could cost me $685. A $500 deductible, dinner with tip $170, parking $10 and $5 tip! Does not include my time to get car fixed.
Thanks for your service Ed! Wish I had found it before valet parking!
Thanks for the consumer reporting idea. But again, I am sure the valet company would say--
You used our service Saturday night and called us 4p on Sunday! He did say that--implying I just noticed. Told him took me that long to find your company. But they could say, We do not know where you went after you got your car last night. I can only hope the manager is honest and reveals what he finds on the cameras. Or if street cameras they will see us pull up, get out, him going in and out of the garage....
Weird he already had our car out on the street and ready to go?? A time stamp on cameras might show when he went in and out--bringing out so soon possibly making management question why in/out so soon.
But the valet company did give me email address to send pics. Their is also a very unique set of scratches--which I can pin point to the garage. As some have dividers with wire rope like guardrails. I found these marks on my door. Did not remove paint, so hard to see. But would match up to garage barrier I guarantee. So will go to garage and take pics of that.
But again, you have to ask yourself--is it worth the hassle/fight with them? Already contacted insurance and know I am covered. Or turn it over to them and let them chase the valet co.?
Thanks again Ed! Great service!
Below, the front and back of the very plain claim ticket... and damage caused by a valet worker.