Automobile News, Opinion

A Guide to Valet Parking


We all remember the horrific crash last week involving a white Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder at the Le Meridian Hotel in New Delhi that involved the hotel’s valet driver losing control of the car and hitting the back of another car and crashing into a barrier at the end of the porch all while narrowly missing a staff member of the hotel. I am really quite sure that these star studded hotels have a large number of really expensive cars coming through the doors which would’ve given sufficient practice and experience to the drivers. So what happened on the day when this unfortunate driver crashed this Gallardo Spyder that cost the owner over half a million dollars to import ?  In fact the whole world did not stop thinking about how the valet or the other people involved in the crash fared.

Yes the car was expensive and had a massive crash, but are the damages being claimed with the insurance company – worth more than a human life?

Assume it was your car that had crashed like that. It may not cost over “half a million dollars”, does not have scissor doors, a folding roof or a 5.0L v10 engine. I’m sure the trauma you undergo will be on par with what the owner of the Lamborghini. So what steps can you take to prevent your car from being involved in a crash like this?

Find your own parking spot

It isn’t always mandatory to hand your car at the valet. You can park it yourself too. As soon as you enter the premises, start scanning the area where you could squeeze in your car. In this way, you are in control of your own car. Even if you do shunt, the blame is on you and it is much easier to claim insurance.

I agree it’s not as glamorous as getting off your car with people opening the doors for you and a person quickly coming down to collect your key and only gives you a small token in exchange as a proof that the car belongs to you. But walking that few meters helps you keep your car keys in your pocket and not in a small box that is filed with keys of all the cars in the area. So it is a small price that you have to pay to ensure that your car is safe.

If you have no other option but to hand it over to the valet…

Brief him about the niggles in your car:

There must be some problem that you are aware of and the driver simply isn’t. He will not know about the problem until you tell him about it. So when you are handing him your keys, give him a brief about the problem. This will reduce the chances of him messing up and he knows what to expect rather than it being a surprise.

If you have a really powerful vehicle…:

If you are one of those driving around in a really expensive and cool car and by the minutest of chances is reading my post, when you do give it in to the valet, tell him that the car is really powerful & expensive and ask him to be really light with the throttle. Tell him in a way such that you don’t scare him. Just give him a gentle reminder.

You can spot the experienced drivers:

When driving into the drop off zone, head to the valet where you feel have the most experienced drivers. If you visit a place often, request that the same valet who you know is experienced to pick up your car every time.

Tip Before and After:

We usually tip the driver only when we have received the car. Tipping before can also help, as the driver will tend take good care of your car. Paying a small tip running into a maximum of Rs. 50 will save you a bill of repairs that will run into thousands.

Keep that valet ticket safe:

Valet Parking

If you are unsure where to keep it and think it may fall off your pocket, keep it in your wallet.

Plan and take everything that you need before handing over your car:

Let’s consider a scenario where you’ve forgotten something in your car. You call for the valet to bring out your car, you pick up what you need and ask him to park it again. Most of the parking lots used by the hotels involves multistory’s, a large number of pillars, and hundreds of other cars crammed into the tightest of spaces. What you are doing here is simply doubling the chances of your car being dinged.

Finally, Check your Vehicle:

When you receive your vehicle, have a quick walk around to check for damage on the vehicle. If you happen to spot the damage after you get home, it will be really difficult to prove negligence/wrongdoing by the hotel management.

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