Dry cleaners destroyed dress, refusing refund
September 16, 2008 8:45 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend took a $200 dress to the dry cleaners, paid $9 for it to be cleaned, and it was returned with broken threads and missing beading. The dry cleaning place sited some Federal Trade Commission ruling that they say protects them from having to pay for the clothing. Three part question, all of which are important to me: a) What is the FTC ruling they're referring to? b) How difficult will taking them to court be? c) Are there any strategies to further the discussion of them simply paying for the dress?
posted by davebug to Law & Government (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Well, the infamous judge who sued his dry cleaners did at some point receive an offer from them of full reimbursement for the missing pants, but he declined it as insufficient. In that case local consumer protection law came into play, so that it something to look into.
posted by exogenous at 8:53 AM on September 16, 2008


To my knowledge there is no such FTC ruling. There is an IFI's Fair Claims Guide that many dry cleaners follow to resolve such issues.

You can always take them to small claims court. Sometimes, just threatening that will start negotiations. Otherwise, you have have the power of spread consumer sentiment about their dry cleaning business.
posted by blueplasticfish at 8:56 AM on September 16, 2008


Generally the ticket they give you has no end of disclaimers. I'm surprised they didn't wave that at you.
posted by Ponderance at 9:02 AM on September 16, 2008


According to Illinois Legal Aid, the FTC comes into play in requiring that all clothes be tagged with proper fabric care labels. If the dress had a tag saying it was dry-clean safe and this still happened, then your beef may be with the manufacturer and not with the cleaner.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:04 AM on September 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I second taking them to small claims court. At the very least, you'll have the case heard by the judge.

I would also read their disclaimers on the claim ticket and see if your wife's dress falls under any of them.
posted by reenum at 9:04 AM on September 16, 2008


Not what you asked, but perhaps of interest to you... are you sure the dress is beyond repair? If it's just missing some beading, you can perhaps find some identical or very similar beads and sew them on, or get a seamstress to do it. There are bead stores now (intended for people who make jewellery) that sell every kind of bead imaginable.

Then if the cost of the repair proved to be a significant amount, you could go after your cleaners for that.
posted by orange swan at 9:30 AM on September 16, 2008


Being labeled "dry-clean safe" does not absolve the cleaners unless they handled the dress properly and it was, in fact, NOT dry-clean safe.

On the other hand, if the dress was safe to be dry-cleaned and it still ended up ruined, that suggests some measure of negligence on the part of the dry-cleaner, right?

Small claims court is the way to go, here. I wouldn't even bother negotiating with them any more at this point.
posted by toomuchpete at 10:03 AM on September 16, 2008


Funny, my dry cleaner ruined a pair of slacks recently and she cut me a check for the cost.

I find it baffling that the dry cleaner wouldn't want your repeated business. Surely that's worth more on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis than $200? That's the angle you should take. Have you been using them long?
posted by softsantear at 10:04 AM on September 16, 2008


It's worth adding: if this is the first time the dress was dry cleaned, it might be a good idea to approach the manufacturer before you file the small claims suit to see if you can get them to cover it.
posted by toomuchpete at 10:13 AM on September 16, 2008


Small claims, BBB, and word of mouth are your best weapons. However how much is it going to cost to take them to small claims? Is it worth a 200 dollar dress?
posted by Mastercheddaar at 10:27 AM on September 16, 2008


Disclaimers on tickets like "not responsible for damages" are generally not legally binding. They do serve to keep many customers from pursuing damages, so many establishments use them as a buffer, but you can definitely go to small claims court no mateer what is on the ticket.
posted by mmf at 10:28 AM on September 16, 2008


You should check with the store where you bought the dress and see if you can take it back. It sounds to me like poor construction of the garment. A 200$ dress should withstand a dry cleaning. What do the cleaning instructions say?
posted by cda at 11:14 AM on September 16, 2008


Funny, my dry cleaner ruined a pair of slacks recently and she cut me a check for the cost.

I find it baffling that the dry cleaner wouldn't want your repeated business. Surely that's worth more on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis than $200?


Perhaps the dry cleaner didn't know how much the dress cost. A $200 dress I'd expect a cheque; a $2,000 dress and I'd expect them to try to weasel their way out of it.
posted by Mike1024 at 2:04 PM on September 16, 2008


Businesses of all kinds will try to buffalo their customers with bullshit about what "the law" requires. This is a new twist, but it's the same old stuff.

A very common one is "State law: no shoes, no shirt, no entry". That may be true in some places, but in others it's just a cover for the fact that the owner wants to make sure you have a shirt and shoes on.
posted by yclipse at 7:33 PM on September 16, 2008


The owner, and probably a few customers.
posted by tremspeed at 11:39 PM on September 16, 2008


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