My mission, which I accepted, was to find cheap San Francisco parking for two nights.
Cheap San Francisco Parking
Street parking was not an option at my vacation rental, as vehicles required residential permits. Yes, I could risk getting a parking ticket and the rental car company might never figure it out, but that is not my style.
I turned to my research assistant Google and searched for “cheap san francisco parking.” Brilliant, huh? Well, the results were anything but brilliant.
With a baseline parking rate of $80, I spent a few minutes doing a deeper dive.
- I expanded the search area on the above websites and others;
- found some smartphone apps, like ParkingPanda, and
- searched on coupon sites, like LivingSocial.
One website showed a rate of $70 at the Grace Cathedral, about 2 blocks from my vacation rental. Other websites showed $76 and $84 for the same location, so I was not confident with that $70 quote.
Then I turned to social media, posting messages on Twitter and Facebook. In a San Francisco-centric Facebook group, several people mentioned a brand new service called Luxe.
The Luxe website describes Luxe as: “on demand parking and valet services.”
Garage Parking versus Luxe Valet Service
Those Facebook friends assured me that Luxe had a great CEO and charges $15 a day maximum. Before leaving home I downloaded the Luxe app, just in case I decided to use the service.
After checking and settling in at our vacation rental house, I had to decide: park two blocks away at Grace Cathedral or try Luxe?
Luxe lists a contact phone number in the app, so I called their Luxe Customer Delight (love that title) hotline and a real person (Kate) answered. She was friendly and answered my questions (patiently and professionally). Kate also gave me a code for $15 off my first valet service.
I tend to overanalyze travel options but finally decided to have some fun and try this new service. Heck, it might be a future Uber or Airbnb.
Still I wondered, where do they park cars? Is it safe? Really, $15 a day? Those are natural questions, right?
Using Luxe for Cheap San Francisco Parking
Before requesting a Luxe Valet, I had to set up my Luxe app, verify my smartphone number, and link my credit card.
When I was ready for my car to be parked, I click the request Luxe Valet button and someone is dispatched to pick up and park my car. When I want my car back, I click a button and my car magically appears.
Immediate responses, within the app and by text messages, alerted me with the driver’s name, a picture of the driver, the location of the driver, and the estimated time until the driver arrives. Luxe Valet suggests 15 minutes for each request (pick up and return).
It was great to also receive text messages. The below graphic is the actual text message I received from Luxe, containing contact information for the pickup and return.
For the pickup, after clicking the request button in the Luxe Valet app, I sat in my vacation rental’s window seat, looking for the driver. When I saw the driver two doors away from my place, I went downstairs to meet him. As I was walking down the stairs, I also received a prompt text message that the driver has arrived.
The driver (valet) was wearing the Luxe shirt and professionally identified himself as my valet driver. I handed over my keys and watched my rental car disappear, like my kids going away to college (which actually did happen last week, sniff).
Skip ahead almost two days, I opened the app and clicked the button to request my car. Again, I received updates in the app and by text message, with the driver’s name, picture, and status. When the car arrived, I received a text message and hopped downstairs.
I thanked the valet and he turned away to leave; as opposed to typical valets whose hands are permanently curved upward to receive gratuities. I asked him, since it was my first experience, if I should sign anything or whatever. He said no, but handed me two cards with discount codes (want one? see below) and took off with his skateboard.
The pricing structure surprised me. I anticipated a total charge of about $15, since they had my car for less than 48 hours ($15 a day) and I had a $15 off coupon. Well, I received an email with a receipt for $46.69 (with no breakdown of costs).
I sent a message to Luxe email support and received an immediate and informative response from my new favorite Customer Delight agent, Kate. She explained that Luxe charges
- $15 per calendar day. So, my “day” did not start when my car was picked up but, rather, at 8 a.m.
- $10 per overnight. That fee was not mentioned when I spoke to her on the phone before pickup but, then again, I did not specifically ask.
My rate breakdown, she explained, was $15 (day parking) + $10 (overnight) for the first two days and $11.46 for the third day (2 hours and 2 minutes), with the $15 credit applied.
So, while the total charge was $30 more than I expected, I still saved at least $20 (one pasta entree in North Beach) and had a great new experience to share with you.
Luxe also provides add-on services, like oil changes, car washes, and detailing, along with a car drop service within 50 miles.
What do you think? Would you use Luxe Valet or another valet parking service?
If you are interested in one of the codes for a $20 discount, let me know by leaving a comment.
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