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What to Do When a Hotel Valet Earns You a Parking Ticket

February 17, 2009 at 4:16 PM | by | Comment (1)

So: you left your rental car in the hands of your hotel's valet parking people. A few weeks later, that car rental company contacts you to ask you to pay for a parking ticket that was issued while the valet was in possession of the car. Aw, hell naw. You ain't payin' for that. So what now?

A disgruntled individual wrote in to ask travel columnist Chris Elliott for advice when she found herself in a similar sitch. After staying at the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco, the car rental company had called the guest to hit her up for $85 to pay for a parking violation incurred by the hotel's valet.

After the guest called the hotel and "was reassured that the independent company used by the Mandarin would reimburse" her, there was no follow-up on the part of the hotel or the valet company — and then, after the guest persisted, the Mandarin folks told her they wouldn't take action until a copy of the actual citation was faxed over to them (which the guest was having a tough time obtaining). Ugh.

Chris Elliott to the rescue! From the article, published on MSNBC:

Instead of excuses, a Mandarin representative should have called you as promised to ask for the necessary paperwork [...] I think you could have handled this a little differently, too. Once you reached someone by phone, you should have immediately asked for an e-mail address for both the hotel and the valet company. Copying both parties on any future correspondence would have ensured that everyone had access to the case notes in the form of your previous e-mails.

You also overlooked two items. You might have asked the hotel if it would accept any other document besides a faxed or mailed citation. A credit card billing statement, an invoice or a citation number could have also done the trick. And second, you should have enlisted the help of your car rental agency in securing the necessary paperwork. (Government agencies are notoriously slow, but the odds are good that your agency has a copy of the document your hotel wants.)

In the end, Elliott ended up contacting the Mandarin on the guest's behalf and, as it turns out, they would accept a citation notice from the car rental company. After the guest faxed the notice to the Mandarin, she got a check for $85 — and everyone lived happily ever after.

[Photo: mbeldyk]

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Five stars, huh?

A little snippet from the Mandarin Oriental mission statement:

We will strive to understand our client and guest needs by listening to their requirements and responding in a competent, accurate and timely fashion.

Unless we can push it off on the valet company.

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