Has Your Dry Cleaner Ever Hung You Out to Dry?

I’ve been searching a long time for a dry cleaner that is affordable yet effective. For more than three years now, I’ve tried at least 10 different cleaning companies.

My problem is personal, and I’m a bit embarrassed to be sharing it here. But, it is at the crux of this week’s real world story. So here goes… My problem is that my suit jackets are emitting an…um…scent. Some would call it body odor. I’ll just call it a scent.

I have repeatedly asked dry cleaner after dry cleaner if they can help me, to no avail. My last experience, however, just about hung me out to dry.

Real World Story:  I was on a mission to find a dry cleaner that could help me. My first step was to call my previous dry cleaner. After explaining my “situation” to the woman on the telephone, she sounded doubtful, so I proceeded to the second step — Yelp.  The first thing I noticed was that my previous dry cleaner was not even listed. That was a clue. Next, I listed my search results by reviews and started calling. The second dry cleaner that I called was extremely friendly. I told the guy on the telephone about my “predicament,” and he confidently assured me that he could help me. I jumped in my car with my FIVE jackets and headed on down.

When I walked in, the dry cleaner’s owner was already working with another customer who did not look very happy. On her way out, the customer whispered to me under her breath, “You’ll never come back.” I didn’t think much of it and proceeded to do business with the owner. I told him about my “problem,” and he promised he could help me. I again explained and asked him a second time, “This problem needs to be fixed. Other cleaners cannot help me. Are you sure you can help me?” He replied, “Yes, yes, yes.” For a third time, I asked for reassurance, “I’m counting on you. Will you guarantee to me that you can help me?” He gave me a big smile and said, “Yes. Don’t worry.” I left feeling happy and confident that my long-standing problem was finally solved.

Three days later, I excitedly returned to my new dry cleaner to collect my clothes. The owner’s son, a younger employee, was at the counter. He took my ticket, found my clothes, and hung them on the counter’s hook. I said, “Okay, here’s the test.” I lifted the plastic wrapping and took a big, long sniff of the first jacket. And guess what? It still stunk.  I was devastated. And so, I started to exclaim, “Oh no. They still stink!” The employee could see my tension and didn’t know what to do. I said, “The gentleman who took my order promised to get the smell out.” The employee went to the back and came back with the owner. I reminded the owner of his promise, and he said, “Oh no, we can’t get out body odor. That’s part of the fabric. We can’t get it out. You need to go see a doctor.” He then started to laugh as he walked away.

To say that I was livid is an understatement. The young employee just stood there, looking frightened. All I said to him was “Please don’t promise something that you can’t deliver.” I grabbed my clothes and stormed out.

(ADDENDUM:  I Googled my scent problem after I returned home and discovered a solution – rubbing alcohol. Turn your garment inside out, spray with rubbing alcohol, and hang outside to dry. Problem solved.)

Strategies that Turn it Around:

  1. Under promise and over deliver. NOT vice versa!
  2. Don’t lie.  If you can’t do something, don’t say that you can!
  3. If you make a mistake, admit it and apologize! It’s not that difficult!

Remember: The main reason for all complaints is an unmet expectation. So don’t set an unrealistic expectation by lying about your product or service.

What did YOU do when a vendor lied about what they could do for you? Please share in the comments section below.

2 Responses to “Has Your Dry Cleaner Ever Hung You Out to Dry?”


  1. 1 sjdigioia July 25, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    Unfortunately too many business will just “chase the buck” and say whatever they must to get your business regardless if they can to as promised. Pretty brave story to tell Barbara.


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