Saturday, September 15, 2012

Am I breaking up with, or cheating on, my dry cleaner?


If you haven't figured it out by now I'm either very loyal to inanimate objects, have a high degree of corporate inertia, or both. Perhaps the most shining example is the fact that I still bank with Bank of America -- nearly 9 years after moving to a state, perhaps the only state, that has not a single branch within its borders (although you can see the branch in Temperance, MI from Toledo, if that counts) -- heck, its only within the past few months an ATM that actually accepts deposits has appeared nearby (and within the past month, the ability to deposit via smart phone, prior to that I'd use a BofA withdrawal-only ATM on my way home from work and either mail in deposits or visit a branch when I was on the road).

But I digress.

This loyalty has, thus far, extended to my dry cleaner. A dry cleaner a friend recommended in Berea*, of all places, right on Front Street. I've since recommended them to others. But I think the time has come fore me to move on with my dry cleaning relationship.

When I first moved to Cleveland and was living downtown they were actually pretty convenient -- I didn't really get the feeling I was passing by any other qualified dry cleaners on my way to and from, and it was only about 20 minutes of all freeway driving.

Since I moved to Cleveland heights, they are decidedly less convenient for routine trips but I've stuck with them. Partially because they're convenient to the airport (there have been trips where I've landed at Hopkins, picked up my luggage and immediately dropped off 90% of the contents of my suitcase on my way home, only to pick up the results before heading out of town on another trip) and because they've generally treated me and my clothes well. It's a mom-and-pop shop where I got the feeling there was an eye on quality and nary a computer in sight, yet they usually remember my name.

That changed recently though. Perhaps it's because I've been looking for an excuse to take my business somewhere more convenient.

But on my most recent trip, I dropped off a few pairs of pants and a pile of shirts. "All for dry cleaning, please." Though the standard in the dry cleaning world (or at least this cleaner) seems to be dry clean pants and launder shirts, my standard order -- it hasn't changed in at least five years -- is "All for dry cleaning, please".

I've found that my shirts last longer, look better, and feel more comfortable when I wear them when I dry clean (and don't get me started on starch). That plus a care tag indicating "for best results dry clean only" make me happy to pay the additional cost per shirt.

When I dropped my last order off the "new girl" wrote up a single ticket correctly, listing my pants and shirts for dry cleaning. I took it and picket up the order early in the morning on my way to catch my last flight. The price seemed lower than I expected, but I wasn't fully awake and wasn't really thinking about it.

When I got to the airport I realized that not only had the pants been bagged separately from the shirts, each bag had a different tag on it, neither of which was a carbon of the tag that had been filled out when I dropped them off. I had a bad feeling. I reached under the bag and felt those shirts. I won't lie. "Those mother.... washed my shrits" was my initial, dejected cry.

I called the cleaners. The woman I answered knows me -- and was the one who had just taken my cash. There are a lot of things they could have done to achieve what the service industry refers to as "service recovery": From the extreme of replacing the now damaged (in my eyes) shirts to a refund for the service I didn't want, or at the very least an offer of a credit of some kind.

But no. Even though she acknowledged that I never have anything laundered, and I had told her that, as always, I had requested that they all be dry cleaned, and that the slip I had been given indicated that they were all for dry cleaning.

"Oh, we've told the new girl that she always needs to write up separate slips for dry cleaning and laundry, they caught it in the back and had her rewrite them"
"But this was all for dry cleaning, and it was written that way on the slip I was given"
"Well you need to be sure, if you see notations like ____ it means that you want them laundered with a hanger and light starch, which only applies to laundry"
"There weren't those markings on the ticket I was given, in fact those markings aren't on the replacement tickets either"
At this point I hear rustling while she pulls the original
"Oh, you're right, your slip was correct. Well, they got laundered that explains why the total was so low, but it's alright. Those shirts can be laundered.

The call basically went on like this with her alternating between implying it was my fault and that since it's OK to launder the shirts per the care tag I shouldn't care. Guess what: If I didn't care I wouldn't have been paying extra for dry cleaning these same shirts (and their siblings) for as long as I've owned them.

I'm also irritated that there was never even an "I'm sorry, we screwed up." I think I was, and continue to be, more ticked off about the way the problem was -- or rather wasn't -- responded to than I was initially about the problem itself.

So if they really don't give a damn about my business I should take my business to somewhere that's more convenient for me regardless of my travel schedule. I'd prefer locally owned, mom-and-pop type and, slightly more importantly, I'd prefer to use a cleaner with a plant on site.

I know there are a couple cleaners in Cleveland Heights, and I need to investigate whether either of them has the plant on site (one of them I strongly doubt, the other is iffy). Does anyone have suggestions for cleaners in the eastern 'burbs? I loaded a few shirts and a pair of pants in my car thinking about giving someone a try this afternoon... but I had an overwhelming feeling of guilt about cheating on my former cleaners. I just need to suck it up.


*- Those reading from out of town: I live in an inner-ring suburb on Cleveland's East Side. Berea is on the West Side. If it's an inner-ring suburb it just barely qualifies as so, it's probably a 45-50 minute one way drive from my house, and about a 5 minute drive from the airport)

1 comment:

  1. A common misnomer is that everything that goes to the dry cleaner gets dry cleaned. Sometimes, washing is far better for the material than dry cleaning. Some materials that we always wash are cotton, linen, polyester. Reason being, dry cleaning leaves them looking dingy and not crisp.