Business professor Benson Honig was a preferred customer of Park N’ Fly at Toronto’s Pearson Airport.
The frequent traveller never gave much thought to the negative consequences of leaving his vehicle in the company’s premium-priced valet parking lot, fenced in and behind a security gate.
Nor did he consider what could happen if he allowed the company to perform an oil change while he was away, at an additional expense, as he did on this occasion.
He didn’t consider what could happen until he showed up from a trip to Europe and went to collect his vehicle at the customer service counter.
“They said we’ve got bad news,” Honig recounted, explaining his surprise at what the assistant manager had to say next.
His Lexus hybrid SUV had been in a serious accident. Honig would never drive it again.
“An accident?” Honig had asked, explaining no one had sought his permission to remove his car from the valet lot. How could it have been involved in an accident?
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It turns out that Honig’s vehicle had been picked up by a driver for an oil change company and things had gone wrong.
“When Mr. Honig parked with our valet service, he requested an oil change service from Supreme Lube, the oil change contractor,” Frank DeCesare, Park N’ Fly’s vice president of marketing, explained to Global News.
“Supreme Lube sent one of their employees to pick up Mr. Honig’s car from our valet lot to take it to their facility to carry out the oil change. While being driven by the Supreme Lube employee, Mr. Honig’s car was involved in a three-vehicle collision on Dixon Road.”
But Honig says he never gave permission to move the car off the lot, and never entered into a contract with any other service provider.
Until Global News contacted the parking lot company, Honig says he didn’t even know the name of the oil change company. He says he believed any work would be done on site by Park N’ Fly.
“It’s deplorable,” Honig told Global News, referring to the customer service he says he subsequently received from Park N’Fly.
Honig says the company was unresponsive to emails and phone calls and abdicated responsibility for the accident, even though his vehicle was left in Park N’ Fly’s care.
Ultimately, Honig says he had to pursue a damage claim through his own auto insurance company. He says he is still out at least $15,000 In damages for items he could not recover from the vehicle and because the Lexus, a pristine low mileage older model, was worth more than what the insurance company was prepared to pay him.
“I would not recommend anyone use their service following their obscene lack of assumption of responsibility,” he wrote in an email to Global News.
Another Park N’ Fly valet customer, Donald Cooke, told Global News someone drove his brand new Nissan truck for a ride while it was parked at the company’s lot in early July.
Cooke, who says he habitually records the odometer reading when he parks in a valet lot or takes his vehicle to a repair garage, claims his new vehicle was driven about 106 kilometres while in Park N’ Fly’s care during a vacation to Mexico.
In a statement, Park N’ Fly’s DeCesare maintained that couldnt have happened.
”Mr. Cooke’s vehicle was parked at one of our secured lots which is less than one kilometre away from the Valet facility and we explained that no one would have been able to drive the vehicle for the 100 [kilometre] as suggested based on the location and timing of the movements,” he said in a statement.
Cooke says his satellite radio was programmed to another channel and his floor mats were soiled. Worse, he says his Ontario accessible permit, attached to his sun visor, was missing when he picked up the vehicle.
Cooke rejected Park N’ Fly’s offer of a discount on future parking and wanted to alert others that the company’s terms and conditions deny liability for accidents however caused.
Park N’ Fly defended its customer service efforts.
”Park’N Fly has been in the parking business for over 45 years and operates in seven markets that span coast-to-coast. On any given day we’re serving thousands of customers and as such have an established policy and procedure that guides our customer service agents and ensuring we exceed our customer’s expectations. Should we fail to meet a customer’s expectation, we take every customer complaint seriously, striving to improve our service as a result,” wrote DeCesare.
The complaints aren’t alone; in 2015 Global News reported on incidents where people returned to damaged vehicles in the Park ‘N Fly Toronto lots.
Honig, who has since replaced his vehicle, says he intends to sue the company in small claims court for additional damages.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.