Monday, November 30, 2009
Help Me Howard: Dry Clean
Ever picked up clothes from the dry cleaner and discovered a shirt or dress was damaged? It's life. It happens. But when it does, does a dry cleaner have to pay for the damage? Sometimes no, sometimes yes, so let's bring in Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- When Cindy Lazarowicz looks for a dress, she first looks at the price tag.
Cindy Lazarowicz: "I'm kind of a spend thrift."
She likes plain black dresses. Then her daughter convinced her to try on this one.
Cindy Lazarowicz: "The colors, it was a springy dress. I could wear a sweater with it and wear it inside to work."
Cindy loved it, but she won't be wearing it anymore.
Cindy Lazarowicz: "I thought it doesn't look right. What's wrong with it, you know?"
After bringing it home from the dry cleaners she noticed her bright blue, green and yellow dress had disappeared.
Cindy Lazarowicz: "Wait, the colors are gone, and they're just not there, and the brown is faded."
Take a look at the dress when it was new and now, so Cindy took it back to the dry cleaners who said, it's not our fault it faded.
Cindy Lazarowicz: "She basically said she followed manufacturer's directions."
Cindy says she had the dress cleaned a couple of times before at another dry cleaner before and never had a problem and suspects this cleaner washed it instead of dry cleaning it.
Cindy Lazarowicz: "She keeps promising I dry cleaned it, I wouldn't lie."
The dry cleaner says they weren't lying and therefore weren't paying to replace the damaged dress.
Cindy Lazarowicz: "It really made me angry because I had trusted them with the dress, and it came back obviously damaged, obviously worn looking."
A fairly new dress now faded, and the dry cleaner refusing to fix the problem.
Cindy Lazarowicz: "It's been frustrating because there's nothing you can do."
Well, Howard, if a dry cleaner damages your clothes what can you do?
Howard Finkelstein: "Once Cindy shows she brought her clothes in good shape, and it came back in bad shape, the law will presume that the dry cleaner did something wrong. It's then up to the dry cleaner to prove it was the manufacturer's fault, and if they can't, they have to pay to replace the clothes."
When we called the dry cleaner, the manager told us they followed the instructions on the label. That it must have faded from a manufacturer's defect. We then contacted the Republic Clothing Group that made the dress. They reviewed their factory reports and told us there were no complaints at all about this dress fading. When the dry cleaner heard that, he changed his mind and agreed to pay for Cindy's dress, but Howard says, he won't have to pay the full price.
Howard Finkelstein: "The dry cleaner does not have to pay for a new dress, only what the law calls fair market value. In other words, what it was worth in the used condition on the day she brought it to the dry cleaners."
Cindy paid $125 for the dress, the dry cleaner gave her $60 for it plus $12 for the cleaning. That won't replace the dress, but Cindy won't have to. When Republic Clothing Group found out how much she loved it, they told us they were going to send her a new dress.
Cindy is happy, and instead of getting taken for a ride by a dry cleaner, she can relax and enjoy riding her horse.
Patrick Fraser: "Glad we could help straighten it out, get her money back and a new dress, and if your dry cleaner damages your clothes, odds are, if you are a regular customer, they will work with you. If they won't, take your business somewhere else."
Been treated dirty? Ready to un-dress them? Stop, let us address it. We've got a laundry list of ways to clean your troubles.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
EMAIL: email@example.com (Please include your contact phone number when emailing)
REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org