Ask the Expert

Settling a Disagreement with Your Cleaner

customer-counterWhether it’s a broken button, a previously unseen spot, or color fading, imperfect results are a problem for both drycleaners and their customers. Damage that occurs during the dry cleaning process may stem from the failure of a component part to be drycleanable or from the circumstances of use. Regardless, dry cleaning customers need to know who is responsible for damaged items and what recourse they have to remedy the situation.

What is the Law?

Wearing apparel is covered by the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Care Label Rule. Textile garments sold in the United States must have a permanent, legible care label attached in a conspicuous place. All parts of the garment must be able to withstand the recommended care procedure.

What Can I Do?

It depends where the responsibility lies. If the problem arises from a manufacturing defect, you should take the article back to the retailer for an adjustment or refund. In some cases, the retailer may resist making an adjustment, even if the problem is a manufacturer defect. Ask the retailer for the name of the manufacturer or obtain the RN number which usually is found on the care label. Look up the RN number in the FTC website for the manufacturer’s name and address. Send the item to the manufacturer via registered mail, return receipt, and include an explanation for the return.

Drycleaner Responsibility

Occasionally, damage done in dry cleaning is the responsibility of the drycleaner and not the result of preexisting conditions or defects. In such cases, the cleaner will usually settle the claim promptly and fairly, often using the Fair Claims Guide published by the International Fabricare Institute (IFI). If there is some doubt about responsibility, the member cleaner can send the garment to the International Textile Analysis Laboratory to determine the cause of the problem.

Reprinted by permission of the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (formerly IFI).