How to get more for your money from the dry cleaners part1

CleanerAlways ask: Does your suit or shirt really need to be dry-cleaned?
Most of us dry clean our delicate clothing way too much; more often than not simply brushing your wool sports jacket and hanging it in a well ventilated area will eliminate odors caused by light smoke or food. If you spill food or drink on the garment, simply spot clean it as necessary by gently blotting the cotton or wool fabric with clean water. Stains that require quick attention such as mustard or red wine, especially on light colored or silk fabrics, should be taken to the cleaners the next morning.

Immediate action after the spill should be to change the garment if possible, slip it off in the case of a tie, or carry on as if it doesn’t bother you. Avoid home remedies such as club soda and salt and never rub a stain or put water on a fabric that can’t be washed in water (ties especially) – you’re just as likely to damage the fabric, especially if it’s fragile.
Confess your stains

Dry-cleaning is wonderful for removing general grime from clothing but may not work on specific stains. If your clothes have stains, always point it out in advance and tell the cleaner what it is, if you know. Giving a heads-up will help your cleaner do a better job.

Check your garments
Check your garments before you leave the shop to ensure that stains are gone. If the stain is still there, ask the cleaner to try again.

Keep it together
In an attempt to save money, we sometimes take in only one piece of a suit or outfit. That’s not a good idea because the color of items that are dry cleaned more frequently may pale in comparison to their matching pieces. Saving a little bit now may ruin your outfit.

Store clothing properly
The plastic bags that cleaners use are just meant to help you get your garments home dust free. Do not store your clothing in the bags even for a short time. The bags can cause damage like yellowing or spotting.

Take in garments promptly
Leaving a pile of clothes in the back seat of the car until you remember to go to the cleaners is not a good idea. Sunlight and heat in a closed car can cause your clothes to fade, set in stains and weaken fabric fibers.

How should you select a dry cleaner?
In selecting a dry cleaner use the five rules below to significantly reduce the likelihood of disappointment at the dry cleaners.

What is their lost garment/damage to clothing policy? Do they replace or give you depreciated value? What this means is that a three-year-old custom suit bought for N20, 000 can be argued by a cleaner to only be worth N5, 000. Always choose a cleaner with a great replacement policy.

Are they clear on their pricing? Do they try the old “bait and switch” trick, and if so, what does this say about the integrity of the cleaner? Make sure to ask how much you’ll be charged upon picking up your item. The lowest price guarantee that brought you into the store may only apply to one item, and even the listed prices may just be starting prices not including extra costs applied to specialty garments.

How long have they been in business under their current name? Be wary of a cleaner that has changed ownership and names every few years. In case you do have an issue with a cleaner, take his firm to court, and win. Collecting on a judgment is notoriously difficult because unless they voluntarily pay up, you need to force a withdrawal. Dry cleaning businesses can often maintain multiple bank accounts under various names and you may end up filing with a court a half dozen times for a sum that quickly becomes not worth the effort.

What level of training do they have? When you hand the person behind the counter a silk shirt and ask for it to be laundered, you want someone behind the counter to suggest that the shirt should be carefully dry-cleaned instead, since a harsh washing method like laundering would destroy the shirt. Don’t be afraid to ask about trainings and “test” their knowledge of the cleaning process.

Are they environmentally friendly? In addition to being friendly to the environment, non-chemical cleaners are superior to petrochemicals.

How to protect yourself in case of lost or damaged clothing
Do your homework: Do a Google search and locate any online reviews – what are others saying about how the dry cleaner reacted when something went wrong? Now realize a customer’s view is only one side of the story and an upset customer is more likely to report a problem than a satisfied one who is to give praise – so don’t let a single review scare you off. But don’t ignore it either. Give them a call and ask a few questions- are they friendly and competent or rude and unhelpful?

Maintain your records: Ensure that when you drop off your clothing you receive a detailed receipt. It should have a legible description of what you dropped off, when it was dropped off, who it was left with, and what you asked to have done. For most shops this isn’t standard, and may be met with a frown, especially at rush hour. But without it, it’s your word versus theirs if something goes wrong. Also you should have photographs or video of all your valuable clothing.

Foster a relationship of trust: The best way to protect yourself is to create a long-term relationship with a merchant that builds trust between both parties. The men and women in the dry cleaning industry are like anyone else, and will often bend over backwards for a customer they like. You have to understand the margins in the industry are paper thin, and many of these companies would go out of business if it wasn’t for family member’s pitching in. However, they often do realize a long term relationship isn’t about a single sale and are very interested in building loyalty and repeat business. So strike up a conversation, tip if the service warrants it, learn their names and ask about their family – because when you lose that receipt, and they lose the garment, more often than not an agreeable settlement will be reached.
• To be continued

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