How much to tip a valet
Valet parking, warm and friendly, just like grandma!
All the fears you have about parking your vehicle with a valet are about to be put in reverse, no pun intended. The following is a guide to all things valet, including tipping, vernacular and common myths about leaving your vehicle in the hands of a total stranger.
Note: I type these words as a valet for special events, hotels and restaurants over the past few years.
One day, long ago, a valet put a small scratch on a man's brand new Porsche, and ruined the reputation of ALL valets that would follow. While there have been dents put in vehicles, money stolen from the center console, radio stations changed and engines raced, these are NOT common occurrences. Take a look and notice that most valets you will park with are guys. Guys are typically car enthusiasts and respect the value of most anything that pulls up to their spot. I work events where it isn't uncommon to get several Bentleys throughout the day and $100K vehicles are a regular sight. If I baby my $30K truck, you can imagine the care I take with such autos. Fact is, your vehicle is safer parked with a valet, than somewhere on a street or in an alley because there is usually a designated area where the valet is parking.
Helpful Hint One: If you pull up and are sociable and friendly with the valet, your vehicle will be taken better care of than if you are a jackass, and think you and your vehicle are the best thing on the planet.
With the high price of gas and housing, especially in California where I am from, "extra" cash is not particularly in abundance these days. Trust me, I am so broke, I cannot pay attention. But I digress. To the point, if you can regularly spend $5 on a Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks, you can afford to drop a valet $3 on the rare occasion you might happen to valet your ride. The average tip at the events I do is $2.
The events I work are free of charge for the guests, and we rarely charge. Meaning, the service provided to the guests is free, provides a safe environment to arrive and depart from, and is time saving. Yet a small percentage of people still do not tip.
If you do not tip when being charged for parking, such as at a restaurant or hotel, that is one thing. If you do not tip at an event you are not being charged for parking, you are cheap. Saying "thank you" does not pay the bills, and 9.9 times out of 10, the valet you just stiffed1 is making minimum wage, usually working his second or third job of the day. If you are against tipping, simply find your own spot.
The clientele I work for are usually on the upper end of the tax bracket, and is used to a different style of living and being catered to. That does not mean, however, that the guests arriving at their functions are as well versed in dealing with someone who is providing a service for them, such as the valet service. The guy in the beat up Ford truck will always tip better than the guy driving the Maserati. A valet will know the price of your vehicle, and will know how cheap you are being with your tips.
If you normally tip your pizza guy, your hairdresser, your bartender, your taxi driver...you get the picture. Doubling the tax on your dinner bill? What's another few dollars for the guy who is running for cars all night, and saving you both the time and aggravation of trying to find a spot?
Preferential treatment has been known to fall upon pretty women, the coolest cars and drivers who tip on the way in. If you would like your vehicle to float2 all night, there are definitely ways to make that happen.
Helpful Hint Two: A valet with dark glasses is standing in a particular spot next to a female passenger's door for a particular reason and is looking to spot a particular piece of clothing.
EVERY joke about your car that you could possibly think of has already been told, time and time again. The first time someone tells an original joke, I will give them their tip back.
If you are thinking of using the following jokes, please stop and bow your head in shame as you hand over your vehicle claim ticket:
- "It's the red Ferrari, Lamborghini, (insert sports car reference here)!" You can be assured, if you pulled up in any of the aforementioned rides, I will know and remember exactly who you are.
- "Mine's the Honda, but I'll take that Bentley right over there." The $2 tip you have in your hand will get you the car you arrived in, and nothing more.
- "There's a quarter of a tank left, and 43,412 miles on it, so if you go racing around I'll know." If you say this joke in a minivan, truck or anything other than a sports car, your joke telling privileges should just be revoked.
- "Why didn't you wash/wax/paint it?" I wash mine maybe 3 times a year.
The best joke I have heard, for the record, was from an old Polish gentleman: "My wife says, "why do you never take me anywhere expensive", so next day I took her to gas station."
Another classic: Q: What is the difference between a porcupine and a Corvette? A: On a porcupine, the pricks are on the outside.
Scenes like those from the movies Casino Royale and XXX should teach us a valuable lesson about valeting your vehicle: never toss your keys to a valet, never leave your vehicle with someone you think is a valet and always wear your seatbelt. Please share your best and worst valet stories, and your thoughts on tipping.
- 1: stiffed - rudely denying a tip after services rendered. - 2: float/floating - vehicle being kept up front, watched closely by the valets; easily accessed at the end of the night when you are ready to leave.