To Valet or not to Valet

Last night we aired an investigation into Houston valet companies. If you didn’t see it, you can check it out here: http://www.click2houston.com/investigates/16175004/detail.html

I started the investigation in November when I received an email from Kris Valchar.  You’ll see him and hear his story by clicking on the link above.  While we built the story around one incident, we received a lot of emails from other Houston drivers about nightmare experiences with other valet companies.  Check out the comments section of this blog to read some of those.

Of all of the drivers who emailed, Gary Ruby was by far the most persistent. Ruby lives just down the street from The Brownstone at Westheimer and Virginia. From his vantage point, he says he’s witnessed several violations by Mike’s Valet, the company contracted by The Brownstone.  He’s even taken pictures and sent them to us.

We also did surviellance and verified what Ruby told us. Valets at The Brownstone do park customer’s cars on the street.  And since Mike’s Valet does not have a permit from the City of Houston, they are breaking the law.

You’ll notice in one picture, a valet has parked car in front of a fire hydrant.

In the other picture, you see a valet walking away from a vehicle.  This was an SUV the valet had parked in a “no parking” zone. When the valet noticed an HPD officer ticket the driver, the valet took the ticket off of the SUV and threw it away.  Ruby witnessed all of this, and that’s why he snapped the pictures. He waited outside to tell the customer what had happened, but he was intercepted by the valet driver. 

I actually looked the customer up by her license plate and called to ask her about the incident. She told me that when Ruby tried to talk with her, the valet told her that he had taken a ticket off of her windshield and was planning to hand it to her to tell her they would take care of it. But he claims wind blew the ticket out of his hand and into a sewer drain. The Brownstone told her they would pay for the cost of the ticket as soon as she found out how much she owed. Since The Brownstone paid, she didn’t want to make a stink, and declined our request for an interview.

There’s always so much to stories that never see air.

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5 Responses

  1. 11/16/07
    My husband had a dinner with a client at Fogo de Cho last night. He parked in Valet. They had changed the parking situation where self park was a field. So he decided to use the valet. When he picked up his car – the valet drove it to him. My husband was facing the driver’s side and go into the car. He didn’t look at the passenger side. When I got up this morning to get the kids to school- I noticed that someone had hit the whole passenger side of the car. Since it doesn’t have an impact dent – it looks as if the valet turned the wheel of a white car too soon and took out the side of my husbands car. I went inside and told him someone had hit his car last night in the parking lot of Fogo – he said he parked valet and would talk with Fogo. Well Fogo say that they subcontract parking.
    The subcontractor says – prove that we did it.

    Drivers beware! Please do a story about the hazards of valet. There is a brazen lack of care. Since the attitude of the subcontracor is prove it – it’s as if they have a legal right to abuse personal property.

    Thanks
    Sonja

  2. I just wanted to let you know about something. On DEC 20th, my husband and I were attending a Christmas Party held at Intercontinental Hotel on Loop 610. When we drove up, it was very confusing with one person telling us to go one way, and another person telling us to go another way.

    We drove down to get in a line they were pointing to (which we found out later was the valet). We actually were looking for a handicap parking place. We saw two handicap parking places and proceeded to one of them. I placed the handicap card on the mirror and my husband and I started up to the building.

    A young man said to me “you can’t park there”. I asked why not, I have a handicap card. He just telling me I couldn’t park there. We went inside and a person who identified herself as head of the valet, instructed us we would be towed if we left our car there, OR we could pay $16 for valet parking there. I informed her that what she was doing was against the law…she laughed at me…and told me to pay the $16 or move. My husband went back to the car and drove around to the back of the building in a self parking garage. There were no handicap spaces available in the garage (they were taken). I told the “head of valet” that I was going to report them. She said they won’t do anything to us, and laughed at me again.

    After the event I waited out front for my husband (due to my arthritis, it is very difficult for me to walk a long distance). I went back out the same door we came in. I looked at the two handicap parking places. They had cars in each (turned around facing out). Neither one had handicap card or handicap plates.

    Now, I am going to report this to TXDOT, but I just thought I’d let you in on it. This I’m sure is illegal. It was just their attitude that really was disgusting.

    Thank you.

    Margaret-Ann Wood

  3. Amy,
    Have you investigated valet parking services at local restaurants? My wife and I went to dinner at The Reef and valet parked my car illegally and I received a ticket. I contacted the owner of the restaurant and the manager of the parking service and I was told it would be handled. Now it’s been almost 3 months and I just had to pay the ticket myself. Is this common at restaurants in Houston??? Thanks.

    Roy

  4. If you need some more information about the horrors of valet’s feel free to give me a call. One of my best friends used to work for a valet service and would pick me up in a different car every night. When someone checked in to the hotel with a nice car or a limo he would take it out for the evening. Also, when a friend of mine had her car totaled by a valet service they asked her to tell the insurance company that he was driving his PERSONAL vehicle because he did not have business insurance. Also, my wife and I have been fighting for a YEAR with Vic & Anthony’s valet company that put a HUGE dent in our door. They even admitted it but we still cannot get any resolution

  5. La Strada restaurant valets have for years parked their over flow on the streets of Montrose, including in tow-away zones. They also park cars over hanging sidewalks. I know this because I use to be one of their neighbors.

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