As you know I was out of town for most of the week. I really didn’t feel like paying the $30+ per day to park at Newark, and I didn’t want my Bride to come and pick me up late Thursday night when I got home (especially if there were delays) so I decided to give The Parking Spot right across from EWR a try. They’re right there, cost only $9/day, and
As the leading near-airport parking company in the nation, The Parking Spot provides full service parking to 21 major airports in the U.S., with a total of 33 parking lots. When you reserve a space with The Parking Spot, you can expect more than cheap airport parking. You’re getting a superior airport parking experience. Our lots are spacious, fully-fenced, well lit, and open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We offer: friendly shuttles every 5-7 minutes, earn free parking with The Spot Club, luggage assistance, complimentary newspaper & chilled bottled water.
What’s not to love? I’ve seen their vans zipping about the airport all the time, so I figured what the hey.
Well, you can get the measure of a company (and of people) not by how they do things right when things are running smoothly (heck that’s the easy stuff; as Jane Austen wrote “Everything nourishes that which is strong already.”) but rather by how they perform and act when things go really, really, reeeeeeally wrong.
I parked my car there on Monday afternoon. I had reserved a spot, pulled into the secure gated drop-off area, left the keys with the attendant and was soon on the shuttle bus; ten minutes later at most I was in the terminal and preparing to expose my inner-most secrets to TSA. So far so good.
Fast-forward to Thursday, sitting in the Las Vegas airport creatively whiling away the time while my flight was delayed 3 hours, making my eta back to Newark now 1am instead of 10pm, so I was glad I hadn’t drafted my poor Bride to come pick me up. She’d get to sleep!
So after a reasonably uneventful 5 hour flight we land around 1-ish, I walk off the plane and call them to send the minibus around. It shows up very quickly (yay!) and me and a couple of other folks hop aboard for the short drive to the lot. The nice fellow driving helps them with their luggage when we get there and the cars are all lined up and off they go.
My car’s not there.
The manager comes up to me and very apologetically says to me “Oh Mr. Bingley, I’ve been waiting for you. I’m sorry your flight was so delayed, but um, well we seem to have lost your keys.”
You know, I’m a little tired and not focused terribly clearly here at this late/early hour, why by gum I almost thought I heard you just say you’ve LOST. MY. KEYS. ?!?!?!?!
My car keys, which also had my house keys and several other keys, as well as the all-important key id tags for various beer and wine clubs I belong to. Oh and the gym tag (what, you think this body was sculpted for free?).
Now I guess some folks would react to this sort of thing rather violently or emotionally but that’s really not my style; the deed was done, the milk was spilled and the coop had collapsed on the chickens. The big question, the only question that mattered was what do we do now.
The manager explained their system for tracking the keys (which is, after all, the core of their business) and, well, they knew which employee screwed up. In a nutshell, the keys are scanned in and out every time they are touched to move a car and this fellow simply grabbed a couple sets of keys to “save time” and dropped mine somewhere (in another car, on the ground) after he moved mine. As they say in The Hobbit “short cuts lead to long delays.” In this case my delay. The manager again was very polite and apologetic and offered to rent a car for me to get home or to have someone drive me home and I could come up the next day…strike that, later the same day because it was now 1:30am on Friday and get the car. I said no, drive me home, I will get my spare keys and come back with your employee and get my car now, I didn’t want to wait and who knows, if the gods were smiling perhaps the keys were dropped in my car and not someone else’s and are now god-knows-where.
So my poor Bride (so much for sleep!) gets a phone call from me at 1:30 (which is an hour when everyone just loves to have the phone ring) and I ask her to put the spare car key outside and leave the door open as I have no house keys now. We drive 45 minutes from the airport to Chez Bingley, I run in, drop off my bag, pick up the keys and run back out. Then 45 minutes back to the airport. The fellow who gave me a ride was a very nice fellow, btw.
Get there, open up the car, the manager and everyone is crossing their fingers that my original keys are in the car. Nope. Damn.
Now life has just gotten a lot more complicated and expensive. I talk to the manager and tell him that I am going to have to spend the next day getting new car keys and all the locks on the house changed and that I expect them to pay for it. He says “of course” and gives me the contact information for his supervisors and apologizes again. I get in and drive home, getting there at 3:30. Yay me.
After a few hours of sleep I get up and head out, going first to the locksmith to arrange for new locks (they came Saturday and installed them) and then to the dealership to get a new key and fob for the car (I sat there for an hour or so as they made/programmed them). During the day I got phone calls and emails from various managers at the Parking Spot assuring me that they would cover the charges and apologizing again for what happened. I will repeat again: every Parking Spot employee I had contact with was courteous and polite and promised to make it right (as much as they could).
So we shall see: tomorrow I’m emailing them the receipts for the roughly $700 I had to spend (I didn’t charge them for my time, but I’m giving that way) and their words will be put to the test. Key control is the core of their business and they messed it up. It happens occasionally and unfortunately this number came up for me last week and not Powerball. Based on all my interactions with them over the past few days I fully expect them to honor their commitments to me and I will keep y’all informed on how it goes.
Quite honestly, assuming they send me the check reasonably quickly I wouldn’t hesitate to use them again. Oh sure I’ll joke about it and annoy their employees by saying “now don’t lose my keys this time!” when I drop the car off but losing my keys aside they do a great job. Now I know that sounds kind of like saying “well aside from that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” but seriously: they’re polite, inexpensive (in theory…) and close to the airport.
So the ball is in their court.