You have put your best dress into the dry cleaners and when you go to pick it up it has been ruined.
What does the law say?
When you have clothes or other items dry cleaned the law says that the dry cleaning must be:-
- Carried out with reasonable care and skill
- Finished in a reasonable time
- Provided at a reasonable cost
- Keep your dry cleaning ticket
- Dry cleaning may highlight existing wear and tear
- Dry cleaning may not remove all stains
You do have rights if the dry cleaning is unsatisfactory:-
- If the item is poorly cleaned you can ask for a refund but if the dry cleaner offers to clean the item again it would be reasonable to allow them to do this.
You may be entitled to compensation if:-
- The contract has been broken and the cleaning was not carried out with reasonable care and skill or finished within a reasonable time at a reasonable price
- The dry cleaner has been negligent and the item has been damaged
- You have accepted a re-clean or a repair and but the problem has not been solved
The amount of compensation will depend on the seriousness of the breach of contract. If the item is totally ruined your compensation would be based on the value of the item but a deduction can be made to allow for the use you have had.
How to solve your problem:-
- Check the fault is not the result of normal wear and tear
- Contact the dry cleaner straight away
- If you cannot agree on what caused the fault find out whether the firm is a member of the Textile Services Association who offer an informal conciliation service
- If the dry cleaner is not a member of the TSA an expert opinion can be obtained from a Test House specialising in this area. You need to write to the dry cleaner and agree which expert will be used and that you will both be bound by the expert’s findings
- If you have obtained evidence but the difficulty remains then you should write to the dry cleaner reiterating your complaint and advising them they have fourteen days to resolve matters or you will consider legal action. Send your letter by recorded delivery and make sure you keep copies of all correspondence.
- If the dry cleaner makes an offer, think about it carefully and be realistic. You may not get a better offer by going to court.
- If the dry cleaner does not reply to your letters or refuses to do anything, your only choice is to go to court. Court however should be your last resort. Before going to court you will need to have sufficient evidence to prove the dry cleaner was responsible for the fault and be assured the dry cleaner is solvent.
If you have lost money on dry cleaning don’t waste more money on a case you cannot win.