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22 June 2010

I have to confront the drycleaners. I hate confrontation. Tips?[More:]
They ruined 2 of my husband's shirts on my first trip there. I picked them up two weeks ago but we didn't notice the damage until today. I don't have a receipt. I dropped a bunch of shirts off yesterday (not including the damaged ones).

So. Do I ask for replacement for the two damaged ones (they're unwearable)? Do I take back the shirts I dropped off, or leave them and demand that I not be charged? I have very little experience with either drycleaners or confronting businesspeople.
Is the damage to the first two shirts clearly from the dry cleaners? I believe you, but could they say, "No, you did this to them after they left our shop."?

If it's indisputable dry cleaner damage, I'd ask for a reimbursement. The worst they can do is say no. If not, don't mention the first two shirts and pick up your new batch without them being cleaned. Don't go back.

I have only ever dry cleaned one thing in my life
posted by youngergirl44 22 June | 09:45
Dry cleaners deal with this sort of thing all the time. I also hate conflict but I'm usually okay if I go in with a "We all want to solve this problem, right?" I'm not sure what is wrong with the shirts that make them unwearable or whether it's obviously caused by something that they did. Do you have a record of payment even if it's not a receipt [i.e. a debit card statement or something]?

The big deal is you'll want to be

- hi we just examined the shirts we got back from you last week
- there is a large problem that we are fairly certain was caused by you
- how do you propose we go about making this right?

If they're total assholes [unlikely] you can just skip dealing with them directly and go to small claims court if you want to [usually not worth it, but available as an option] or talk to your local business bureau or other thing. But really unless they're jerks they'd probably like to straighten this out also. Think about what would make this okay for you. Money for new shirts? Repairing the problem? A coupon for $50 or further dry cleaning. Stay calm, be friendly, act like they want to fix this until you've gotten clear signals that they don't.
posted by jessamyn 22 June | 10:13
what Jessamyn said. Do bring the shirts to show them the problem. I doubt you'll have much trouble convincing them you paid, as they would have a record of your last ticket.

Also, be aware that in many states you can pursue a consumer protection act claim in small claims court -- in my state and many others that means a treble damages recovery. Also, small claims court is not too tough -- just a matter of filling out the forms and showing up to present your evidence (including, I'd suggest, the shirts or a photo of the damage to them). Lawyers aren't allowed.
posted by bearwife 22 June | 11:01
What jessamyn said. Start with being reasonable and collaborative and assuming good intentions. If the other person acts like a jerk back, then I always figure it's a good reason to sever the relationship because who wants to deal with a jerk? In this case, for me, that would be firmly asking for the just-dropped-off shirts back and going elsewhere.
posted by occhiblu 22 June | 11:03
That is to say, I also hate confrontations, but it helps me to remember that my "nuclear option" in these situations is just walking away, and that I don't have to go all apeshit (because even the thought of going all apeshit makes me flustered). So, at any time, if I decide that I've had enough, I can leave. (After you leave, you can then decide about things like small-claims court; you don't have to do that while in the presence of potential jerkiness.)
posted by occhiblu 22 June | 11:05
Thanks. Here is a crappy cellphone pic of the damage to one of the shirts. I don't know what they did to it but it's fairly obvious he would not have worn it before like this and it's been hanging in his closet since we got it back from them. The shirts were about $25 new; I just want to be able to replace them.

≡ Click to see image ≡
posted by desjardins 22 June | 11:06
Dry cleaners are a tough one. Clearly, the best thing you can do is stop giving them business. Give them a bad Yelp review, and post your pics there. I can almost guarantee that going to court over this will be a waste of time.

Through life, I've learned that stuff ruined at a dry cleaner is kind of a normal casualty. It's not inevitable, but it happens more often than you think, and it happens to everybody that uses dry cleaners. That doesn't mean that you have to let it go, of course.

The problem here is that the only thing the dry cleaner will usually do is give you credit toward more services, which is kind of counter-productive to you boycotting them.

As for the confrontation, I usually don't go in looking for a fight. It's always better to go in with a "I have a problem, could you be a doll/mensch and help me fix this?" attitude. People naturally want to help you fix your problems, especially whenever it is within their means to do so. When they can't fix your problem, you ask to speak with a manager. Acting upset is not usually helpful, in my experience, but it's okay to be upset without acting it.

My caveat, though is if they continue to stonewall you, despite your being kind and rational, then it's okay to go apeshit.
posted by jabberjaw 22 June | 13:05
I'm back. The damage to one shirt was dismissed out of hand (the explanation seemed reasonable, it's too complex to go into here). She said she'd send the ripped shirt to the owner (off site) and he'd call me. She barely spoke English so I didn't press too hard. I couldn't get the shirts I'd taken in yesterday because they had already been sent off site, so I'll fight that battle when I pick them up. But now my husband has nothing to wear tomorrow, so I had to buy new shirts at $30/each. Ugh.
posted by desjardins 22 June | 14:16
Keep track of everything. Your cell phone photos wasn't bad --- keep it, and all receipts for replacements. Keep notes on your conversations. You don't have to turn this into the Cause of the Century, but having documentation keeps your options open. You can also tell the dry cleaner the replacement cost for the shirt the owner is looking at. It would be nice to recover the costs you have to expend now.

FYI, the last time this happened to me -- my former dry cleaners shrank a beloved and irreplaceable (gift) sweater to a size suitable for a dainty toddler -- I gave them some dreadful online reviews and went elsewhere. Take the options that seem best for you.
posted by bearwife 22 June | 14:39
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