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Valet Parking: A Short Horror Story

This novella just in from a SideDisher with a cracked up car:

On Friday night November 16, 2007 I pulled up to the valet stand at The Club Restaurant owned by Robert Colombo and Billy Solomon. As I pulled up there were several other high-end luxury cars that were unoccupied but waiting for the attendant from RP Valet to park them in the garage. After my guest and I walked inside the doors of the restaurant, a young enterprising criminal happened to take a fancy to a new Lexus LS 460L sedan and seeing that the valet was nowhere to be seen, decided to experience the pleasure of driving such a fine automobile. He jumped in the car and as he was rounding the corner from Welborn on to Cedar Springs, the employee from RP Valet came back from the garage and found the Lexus MIA.

Without thinking he jumped in my car and proceeded to chase the stolen Lexus throughout Uptown at high speeds, hitting several parked cars along the chase. The Lexus put a quick move on the valet driver and the valet driver attempted a U-turn to continue the chase but not before hitting another car in the street. Eventually the Lexus was wrecked and not drivable so the suspect ran away and was eventually caught along actual Turtle Creek near The Mansion. I came out for my car around 9:30pm and was told they could not find it. The new valet guys from RP Valet acted is they knew of nothing unusual taken place with my vehicle. I suggested that we go down in the garage and I could point it out to them. They immediately protested and said to go back in The Club and they would come and get me when they found my car. Later I found out why they protested. My car was being used in a car chase reminiscent of Smokey and the Bandit! Around an hour later I was told they had found my car. As I walk to it I noticed that the entire rear was damaged and the bumper was barely attached to the car. Upon hearing the story from the RP Valet employee I was just amazed that he would take a customer’s car to chase a stolen one. My car was barely drivable but the new Lexus had to be towed as the front wheels were completely damaged. It took over six weeks to have both cars repaired.

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  • Nate

    Note to self: if you see RP Valet wherever you go, consider self-parking instead.

    Note to valet drivers: just call the police. That is what your company’s insurance is for. Better to admit what happened than risk the lives of innocent people on the street, including your own life. You are a valet driver, not a professionally trained law enforcement officer. Leave it to the true professionals to retrieve the car.

  • KR

    I have also had a bad experience with RP Valet. This story does not surprise me. The RP Valet driver should have let the car go and not risked his safety or others. I imagine that he is no longer employed by this outfit.

  • Brad

    Forget the driver. I hope The Club has sense enough to rid themselves of RP Valet company.

  • Matt

    Here’s a good list of places to avoid, if you want to avoid the risk of using R.P.

  • allison

    I drove behind one of their company trucks on Turtle Creek last night. I made sure I was 200 feet behind at all times. Not a very good turner, that one.

  • John

    On December 16th I gave my King Ranch F150 to RP Valet out in front of Mi Cocina West Village. After 1 hour in the restaurant my date and I returned to the valet stand. I placed my date into the passenger side of the vehicle and walked around to the driver’s side. The door was open; the valet driver took a tip and let me drive away. Since my door was opened for me and it was dark, I did not notice the damage until I left the property that there was a huge gash in the driver’s door and the running bar was also bent. When I called RP the next day, James the manager said “You’re the guy with the burgundy truck, I know all about the accident!” As you can imagine I was furious! The excuse I was given about the driver not reporting the damage when he returned the vehicle was that he did not speak English and was nervous. Jeb Morris, another manager came to the firm where I work and admitted in front of two attorneys that the non-English speaking nervous guy was driving the vehicle when it was damaged. The claim ended up being denied because the non-English speaking valet driver said it was a hit and run on McKinney Avenue. However, in the beginning the story was that he ran into something. Wow! This non-English speaking nervous driver could not have pointed to the damage to let me know? After several calls to Donovan Fulkerson at RP I was given some lame story. We had to send many e-mails from the firm in order to get a reasonable response. According to Engle Martin and Associates, their insurance company, their garage keeper’s insurance policy does not cover cars on public streets. Therefore; anywhere they drive your car on a public street, in or out of a garage is not covered. I guess since I don’t drive a Bentley I was not a priority to them. I have had to use my insurance company to get the damage fixed. The local Progressive agent I use said he has dealt with RP, and not one claim has been their fault! They are a band of gypsies. DO NOT VALET WITH RP…..EVER. For good info of where not to park check out their website l this will scare you!

  • Cari

    Anyone happen to copy the list of clients? The page has already been taken down.

  • Catherine

    Oh, I can top RP valet with my story about Lone Star Valet. My sister valet parked her car at her office and when she went to retrieve it, she was told it was “not drivable.” Apparently, the valet had “bumped” a post in a parking garage and the car would no longer start. Not exactly sure how you “bump” a pole and a car becomes undrivable.
    The valet company of course had to admit the accident since they could not even get her car started, but did nothing to help get it towed or anything. My sister had to call the tow truck and have it taken in.
    What happens next is where it gets really unbelievable. One of the company VPs contacted my sister and said they would provide their insurance information to the collision repair center and all would be well. The next day, he called and said nevermind, they would pay cash to the collision center. Then, the estimate came back, a whopping $16,000 (and they supposedly just bumped a pole?) so they quickly changed their tune. The president of the company called my sister (the VP had him call because he said he was too embarassed to call her) and asked if she wouldn’t mind running it through her insurance and he would give her some “pocket” cash in exchange. Well, my father is in the insurance business, they picked the wrong girl to try and help them committ insurance fraud!
    Long story short, she did run it through her insurance just to get the car fixed, but let them know what happened and now they are going after the valet’s insurance.
    But, they story doesn’t end there. My sister got a new car as my dad did not think the older one was safe since the front end had been completely rebuilt (he was right, the first time we went to pick it up from the repair shop, we got about a block before it stalled out!). The car was appraised in order to collect the diminished value and my dad left 4 messages for the president who never called him back. Right now, the president of Lone Star Valet should be reading the certified letter from my father’s attorney.
    In the end, $16,500 to get the car fixed, $3,000 for a rental and an outstanding $6,000 dimished value claim. Did I forget to mention that this happened October 22 2007???????

  • John

    RP took down their client page. Huh, someone is reading these!

  • John

    I know some of them! Il Sole, Dakotas, all of West Village, Matitos, Maguires, Steele, The Club. There are a few more in the downtown area.

  • Pam

    My friend and I were sitting on the patio at Patrizio’s in Highland Park Village and witnessed the valet guys scrape the wheels of a Mercedes and BMW on the curb as they were parking them. The scraping noise caught our attention and we just looked at each other in disbelief as the valet guy inched back and forth trying to get the BMW off the curb! I tried to look at RP Valet’s client list, but the list cannot be viewed. Go figure!

  • KR

    RP also rides them hard at Nick and Sams. Can’t believe they really operate a business like they do.

  • Snoopy
  • KR

    In looking at the picture of the RP Valet parker with his hand out you can only immagine him thinking how nice it would be to get his hands on your keys and give your a car a good fast joyride through the neighborhood. If I were RP I think I would change the name of the company as this bad press cannot be good for business. Sounds like they and their insurance company could care less about a customer’s car.

  • Nate

    I wonder how feasible a strike against valet companies would be. Hmmm, imagine a busy weekend evening, nobody parked their cars with valets. Instead, they all self-park someplace and walk a few minutes to the restaurant or bar. Would they take notice that they need to accept full liability for damages they knowingly cause to a customer’s vehicle?

  • Donna

    I have been a proud employee of RP Valet for over twelve years now and would like the opportunity to respond to the accusations put forth on this blog. Yes, the incident originally submitted in this blog did occur, although many important details have been omitted. A vehicle was stolen while our employees were present in the front area of the restaurant, not while they had abandoned the front area. The employee did break corporate policy by chasing the thief instead of waiting for the police. It was a decision made in a split second that he regrets, but that was made out of genuine concern for his customers. I am sorry that this occurred and that such criminal acts take place in our city.

    Here are the details left out of this account. The customer submitting this blog neglecting to inform you that his vehicle was immediately taken in repairs, even prior to our insurance provider giving the necessary authorization, so that his vehicle would be returned to him as quickly as possible. While his 2000 Avalon was being repaired by one of the finest repair shops in Dallas, we arranged for him to drive a 2007 Lexus rental. Our insurance paid for all repairs of his vehicle and for his rental for a period extending past when his own vehicle was repaired because he simply did not want to pick his car up yet. His reason for writing this blog stems for his request for additional money from our insurance or from us directly outside of the repair cost. The expert adjusters hired by our insurance to handle this incident are certain that no additional money is legal or reasonably due to him.

    I want to thank the other vehicle owner involved in this incident. He was giving the same high level of service as this blogger and has repeatedly returned to the establishment and thanked us for going above and beyond in handling this matter.

    When reading this blog please consider the other side to this blogger’s story. RP Valet has been in business in Dallas for over twenty years. We have dedicated ourselves to caring for our clients, their customers and those customers’ vehicles. Our valets park 15,000 to 20,000 vehicles a week, most often without incident. When incidents do occur, we do all in our power to see that they are handled fairly and promptly. We employ over one hundred valet attendants who stand in the cold, rain and unbearable Texas heat, waiting to park your car. They accept responsibility for vehicles that cost tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of dollars in exchange for a tip. In the past twelve years, I have seen valets beaten by drunken guests for no reason, assaulted because they got a customers car seat wet after being asked to retrieve it in a downpour, and treated poorly by people for no other reason than they are “just” a valet. I have witness hundreds of false claims of damage and theft against these employees because people do not realize that their car was already damaged, forgot that they took something out of their car or simply think a valet company is an easy target.

    Are our employees perfect? Of course not. They are only human. They work hard to provide for themselves and their families. I just received a call from someone wanting to know if I had read his blog and this site because they were really having FUN trashing us. I wish the host of this blog would have searched for the truth concerning this accusation before allowing it on the web site. We can provide extensive documentation from our insurance adjusters that provide the facts of the case. I ask that before anyone enjoys themselves further by accusing our company, please consider the lives that you are impacting and the take the time to discover and consider the whole story.

  • KR

    I am surprised if Nick and Sams uses RP as Phil Romano is a stickler for customer service and would not put up with the antics of a vendor like RP.

  • jh

    I managed to print out the collage of logos on the RP Valet clients page. It states that this is a sample of their clientele, so there may be others who are not mentioned there. This list also is not up to date, as it includes two places now closed: Maguire’s Uptown and Il Mulino.

    On this RP clients list: Steel, Hillcrest Hotel, Mi Cocina, West Village, the Magnolia, Bob’s Steak & Chop House, Arcodoro/Pomodoro, Abacus, Jasper’s, Dakota’s, Ferre, Gables Residential, Perry’s, Nick & Sam’s, Il Sole, Cru, The Capital Grille, Mattito’s, Lawry’s, and the Angelika.

  • John

    Helpful tips to any valet! When accidents occur call the police immediately. Second, be honest and up front with the customer immediately. Accidents do happen! Third, make sure your insurance company doesn’t use loop holes to deny claims. If you CHOOSE the business of driving and parking other people’s vehicles it is your responsibility 110% of the time you have them in your possession, especially when your employee is actually operating the vehicle!

    Excuses are like A……S! Everyone has one.

    Think about how wrecking people’s vehicles and making them take off endless time from work to fight to get it fixed is affecting their life!

  • RO

    I came across this blog & I know several employees of RP Valet. I know for a fact that they work hard and the office staff goes above and beyond to take care of concerns and any issues that come up. Its incredible how far people will go to for a handout. The car was damaged, it got fixed and now you have your car back. Plus driving a Lexus as a rental when you only drive an Avalon. Give me a break! Quit whining and move on. Life happens.

  • allison

    Renting a Lexus when you have an Avalon is not way above and beyond to the point that it excuses what he went through. IJS.

  • karen

    perfect example of “There are two sides to every story….”

  • Kent

    Yes! We did it! We finally rid the world of the evil valet! Only in Dallas could such a story get so much blah blah blah… Valet is very much like a woman. To quote; someone, I can’t remember whom: consider valet a necessary evil and avoid it if at all possible.

  • Amy S

    The businesses listed above are some of the finest in Dallas, and wouldn’t hire a sub-par valet company to service their guests. One person’s outrage at what happened does not mean that this firm is not qualified to do their job. You don’t go to work for these fine establishments by being the cheapest, you get those contracts by being the BEST.

    I don’t work for or use RP Valet in my business, but recognize that it has been a great service company for many years. I also have seen first-hand people blame a valet for damage that they themselves have done, but don’t want to claim on their own insurance.

    There is always an option for those who don’t want to trust someone else with their auto – PARK IT YOURSELF.

  • KR

    Jack Boles Valet is the standard by which every valet in town should aspire.

  • Patti Scotch

    Anybody every had a problems with Town Park. They damaged our car New Years Eve at the Gaylord Texan. We have been hassling withthem ever since. We didn’t see the damage until the next morning but our car hadn’t been anywhere but to the Gaylord and the damage is obviously from hitting cement. Unbelievable how dishonest this goup is.