Valet parking is a practice that is becoming more common in Jakarta today.
Why valet parking? In countries like the USA, valet parking is a service that is offered in establishments like hospitals, malls etc as a choice for patrons. Like in hospitals for example where parking spots are reserved for emergency vehicles, patrons can choose to use the valet service for convenience. Similarly in malls, if you’d prefer not to go around the parking lots looking for an available parking spot, the valet service is there for you to use, at a fee. In areas where parking is scarce, some businesses offer valet parking as part of their service.
All that is well and good. But when you feel that you are forced to valet park your car and pay a fee on top of it, even though there are available parking spaces, you can’t help but left feeling cheated and extorted.
I went to a restaurant in Senopati, Jakarta Selatan area tonight with my very dear elderly aunt who walks with a help of a walker. We needed to park right outside the restaurant so she could get in and out easily. The parking area was empty outside the restaurant as it was still quite early. As soon as I parked the car, a uniformed parking attendant approached the car and said he needs to valet the car and I have to pay a valet fee. I refused to because 1) I already parked my car, why valet and re-park my car when the car park was empty? 2) we were customers there, why should we pay a valet fee on top? Shouldn’t this be part of the service? This is a case of customer service gone bad. Never mind about the food and the restaurant service, which were actually quite good, we now think twice about going there.
Another practice that is becoming common is the blocking of car spaces in malls to free up for valet parking. Let’s revisit, valet parking service should be a choice for patrons who choose to pay a fee for the service, not being forced to. There are still many patrons, like myself, who prefer to park my car myself (I can park myself, thank you very much). So, when you went around looking for a car spot and you saw that half of the parking area was blocked for valet only, even though almost all of the valet spots are empty, you can’t help feeling cheated. You were left with no choice but paid a valet fee on top of the parking fee we already pay. The more people use the valet service, the more money they make. Bingo! another money making exercise.
Customer service is all about feeling good about the service you are paying for. Customer service is about complete customer experience – from the time you enter an establishment. On that note, parking should be an integral part of customer service, that provides convenience and affordable service. It shouldn’t be another scheme to make money of customers. For that I say “valet me NOT, thank you!”