DESK is an editorial section that Dave will update from time to time with
his viewpoint on various drycleaning-related subjects. If you have any suggestions
for topics you would like to see covered here or to offer your commentary
on any particular editorial subject, TELL
ANYONE'S BEEN "TAKEN TO THE CLEANERS"
IT'S THE CLEANERS!
family has been in the drycleaning business since the late 1920's and for all
of three generations. I learned this trade from my father, who was taught by
his father, both of whom were certified at NID (pre-IFI, National Institute
of Drycleaning), and both of whom have contributed to the level of instruction
in cleaning and spotting and to the old-school customer service philosophy from
which I have been trained.
our family business, Uptowne Drycleaning, Inc., we are members of the Better
Business Bureau, as well as our industry's local and national trade organizations,
WSDLA (Western States Drycleaners and Launderers Association), and IFI (International
Fabricare Institute). We feel it is important to maintain these affiliations
so that we are always currently informed regarding the latest business and industry
tips, techniques and problems. We utilize two complete solvent systems, petroleum
and perchlorethylene, so that we have the flexibility to choose whichever solvent
best suits any particular application. We enjoy an excellent reputation as a
high-end, full service drycleaning and laundry establishment; we are accessible,
knowledgeable, experienced and well prepared
our industry. That, however, does not change the status
quo. We still must cope with a frustratingly common problem.
day I have to defend myself regarding problems that occur with textile products
in the drycleaning or laundry care process. Why? Because when a customer brings
in a garment to be serviced and returns to find the garment has in some way
become damaged, most people find it very difficult to accept the fact that someone
other than their drycleaner may be responsible for damage that becomes apparent
only after the garment
has been drycleaned or laundered. Instead of asking what may have caused the
damage and who should be responsible, they look directly at me and draw their
own conclusions. For example, instead of asking me why their spandex slacks
may have shrunk in the drycleaning, they are sure I washed them by mistake.
Instead of asking me why the dye in their multi-colored silk shirt has bled
into another color, they assume I cleaned it in "dirty solvent". Instead of
asking me why there is discoloration around the collar of their blouse, they
believe I used improper spotting techniques. Instead of asking me why the cuffs
on their shirt are starting to fray, they are convinced I scorched them with
a hot iron. Instead of asking me why the color of their new spread no longer
matches the color of the drapes, they are sure I mishandled it in some way.
It is literally day after day of "put up your dukes", and I'm not kidding here,
folks. Give the drycleaner the benefit of the doubt? I don't think so. Trust
that he is telling you the truth? Not very often. It is like this every day
in the drycleaning business. Why? It is the "taken to the cleaners" mentality
that has developed over many years.
Garment Industry Textile Chain
Over the years, drycleaners
have been taking the fall for mislabeled and poorly made garments
from the manufacturers and for damage caused by use or misuse at home by consumers.
A manufacturer defect which causes colors to bleed - a
broken link at the manufacturer level - or a wayward spray of cologne
- a broken link at the consumer level
- will result in a broken chain, no matter how strong the drycleaner link
remains. The drycleaner
however, is most likely to be present when the damage or defect is discovered.
Thus, fault is almost invariably assigned to the most accessible link
- not necessarily the broken link.
you say. Don't I think drycleaners have contributed to their own derogatory
reputation? Oh, absolutely! There have been, and still are, many drycleaners
who lack the necessary skills to do the job properly, and who could handle customer
service problems more thoroughly and delicately. There are, however, many of
us who try our best every day to provide excellent service and a premium product.
Unfortunately, the trust and respect we receive from our customers is minimal.
the following example:
us assume you have purchased an expensive garment from a well-respected national
retailer. It passes from the manufacturer, to the retailer, to you - or from
link 1, to link 2, to link 3 in the chain. You wear it happily and, eventually,
take it to your drycleaner, link 4, to be serviced. The dye runs, or it shrinks,
or the buttons melt, or the colors fade or two pieces of a suit don't match.
When you return to pick up the garment, your drycleaner tells you that, although
the damage was sustained during the care process, he followed the manufacturers
instructions on the care label but the garment did not properly withstand the
prescribed care procedure. Furthermore, he tells you it is a manufacturing problem
and the garment should be returned to the retailer.
the conversation quickly deteriorates from this point and a defensive posture
is taken by both you and the drycleaner. You say, "Don't you know I paid
a FORTUNE for that garment, and I bought it at ABC department store, and this
was the FIRST TIME it was cleaned?" Your drycleaner simply apologizes and repeats
the facts. You don't trust that he is telling you the truth. Your drycleaner
has not mishandled your garment in any way, but you do not feel confident in
his explanation and assessment of the damage. Any
way you look at it, and whoever is really at fault, this is a hassle you do
not need. You do not want to return the garment to the store.
this point the customers' reactions vary - some will say it was not like that
when I brought it to you, therefore it's your problem. Some will pound on the
counter in front of other customers and demand immediate reimbursement. And
for the small percentage that agree to return the garment to the retailer, half
of the time a salesperson at the store will still say it was the drycleaners'
fault. Then what do you do? Nobody wants to be taken advantage of or made to
look foolish. So, even though the responsibility for this problem lies completely
with the manufacturer (link 1), it becomes mired in a funk between links 2,
3 and 4, and never makes it back to 1. Naturally, the bad guy is the last guy
- the drycleaner. It becomes a negative, no-win situation. Taken to the cleaners.
us assume you have a favorite rayon shirt that you save for special occasions.
It fits you perfectly and it has been drycleaned many times; however, this time
when you pick up the shirt, there are spots of color loss along the top of the
collar. They weren't there when you left the shirt for service, and you believe
your drycleaner has somehow mishandled the care process; however, he says that
he thinks it is probably chemical damage from your after-shave or cologne, and
that the damaged color wasn't rinsed out until the shirt was drycleaned. You
think…probably? Defensive positions are assumed. It becomes a negative, no-win
situation. Taken to the cleaners.
Let us assume your wife
sends you to the drycleaner to pick up a silk blouse she wore under a blazer
office. When you get home, she becomes upset that you would not inspect it
before accepting it from the drycleaner. She claims that since it was perfect
before and now there are wrinkles under the arms, they have ruined it by pressing
it with a hot iron. So, back you go. Your drycleaner explains that when silk
gets wet with perspiration, fibers are stretched and damaged. Wrinkles or
puckers form when the fabric dries, and there is nothing that can be done
to reverse the damage. Your wife says that's a
bunch of baloney. So defensive positions are assumed. It becomes a negative,
no-win situation. Taken to the cleaners.
I could go on and on and
on. I have experienced more of these situations than I care to remember, and
I'm sure every other drycleaner would agree. With the introduction of a single
problem, regardless of customer tenure or loyalty, this attitude affects people
of every educational and professional level, causes reasonable people to become
unreasonable and creates a strange dichotomy of competence, i.e., before the
problem, I'm the expert - after the problem, I don't know squat. Go figure…
Anyway, I do believe this "taken to the cleaners" cliché is a bad rap on many
hardworking drycleaners and, although I am sure some of the reputation is
justified, the other side of the coin should be "made out like a manufacturer".
time you experience a problem with your drycleaner, don't jump to a hasty
conclusion. Utilize your drycleaner's expertise. Use common sense. Read through
our Damage & Responsibility section or ask
Dryclean Dave! Let the proper party take the fall.
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