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Hold my phone: Students dodge phone bans with valet service

Oct. 5, 2012 at 11:21 AM ET

Tina Fineberg / AP /
Students from New York's Washington Irving educational complex line up to leave their cellphones and other electronic devices, for a dollar a day per item, in a privately operated truck parked near their school.

Some schools ban cellphones from their campuses entirely. This means that students are punished just for being caught with cellphones, whether they are using them or not. In order to circumvent these bans and have their beloved gadgets available as soon as they leave school grounds, some students are using a peculiar valet service ... to check their cellphones.

The Associated Press took a look into these valet services, now popping up mainly in New York City. Essentially, a truck is parked near a school in the morning and students are able to drop off their phones. Once classes are done in the afternoon, the items can be claimed again.

According to the website of Pure Loyalty, one of the services, there are security precautions in place to keep phones safe while they're out of students' hands:

Each student is given a security card to ensure that their device is only returned to them!!!! If a student with a security card loses their ticket, not to worry. We have a system in place that secures their phone. Each student is given a FREE security card. Replacement cards are $1.

Of course, these glorified claim tickets don't cover all bases. As the AP points out, one valet service's truck was "held up in the Bronx in June, and some 200 students lost their phones." No word on whether they were compensated for this loss.

A cellphone valet service typically charges students a dollar per day — an amount which quickly adds up, considering that the school year is about 180 days long. Some services, such as Pure Loyalty, offer promotions which include a prepay special ($15 per month, according to a rarely updated website) or free days in exchange for new customer referrals.

One might wonder why students don't simply conceal their cellphones while on campus. Who would know that a silenced or powered down device is hidden in a backpack pocket, after all?

Unfortunately for the students, metal detectors installed in many schools not only detect dangerous contraband such as weapons — they also reveal stealthily hidden smartphones, leaving valet services as one of the few options for those who want their gadgets for the walk or bus ride home or during an after-school activity.

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