Abu Dhabi/Dubai: Residents looking to have a relaxed night out on the town often enjoy the luxurious service of valet parking — until their vehicle is damaged.
Valets do not take any responsibility for damage despite the steep charges at some hotels. Residents have complained that valet drivers have misused their vehicles, and some have also received traffic fines due to the staff's lack of consideration.
Dipen Patel, a resident of Dubai, has been in two such situations. The first incident occurred while Patel was staying at one hotel and received an SMS message from the Roads and Transport Authority saying his vehicle had passed through the Salik toll gate at 6am, even though he was asleep.
"The worst experience was at a hotel in Deira, and when I got [my car] back I found that the front left rim had been badly scratched and brushed against a pavement," he said.
"No one took responsibility and I was sure they caused the damage, since I had the car maintained at a workshop only one week earlier."
Hotels say they do take responsibility for damage to a customer's vehicle, but not for stolen valuables," said a concierge at Movenpick in Deira.
"If customers have any valuables we inform [them] that they are parking at their own risk. But, of course, if a car has dents or is damaged in any way then the management will conduct an investigation, and try to find out who is responsible for the damage and take the necessary course of action."
Several residents also pointed out that they felt discriminated against by valet drivers, with those owning non-luxury cars made to wait longer.
"There have been numerous occasions when customers came after me yet collected their cars before I did," said Anvi Menon.
"I do not think that it is a coincidence that all the people who were attended before me owned high-end luxury cars. The attitude of valet drivers is different because [of] what you drive or what you wear."
Mohammad Abdul Raheem said that he never leaves valuables in his vehicle for fear that they may get stolen.
"The hotels do not take responsibility for stolen items, so the best way to prevent it from happening is to take my belongings with me. I would not feel safe leaving my laptop or camera inside," he said.
"So far I've never had anything happen to my car, but there have been times when I've had to wait, whether a few minutes or a half an hour, because many people have given their tickets and it seems there aren't enough valet drivers," said Filipina Rosalind Macapagal.
Tips to follow
- Don't leave valuables in the vehicle
- Check for any dents or scratches before handing the vehicle to the valet driver
- Make sure to collect the valet receipt
- If using the hotel's services, be sure to benefit from free valet parking by having your ticket stamped