Occasionally things do go wrong when a garment is cleaned. While some problems may rest with the cleaner, in many circumstances your dry cleaner may not be to blame. Responsibility for breakdowns in quality garment cleaning falls into three categories: manufacturer, dry cleaner and consumer responsibility.
If your dry cleaner followed the recommended cleaning process as outlined on the care label and the garment is damaged during cleaning, the manufacturer is responsible. And if, when wearing the garment, you cause a stain which cannot be removed, unfortunately, it will be your responsibility.
Most cleaners will attempt to restore and repair the garment or explain the cause of the problem to you. They may also offer to obtain an unbiased report from a testing laboratory to help explain the problem.
As a consumer, your responsibility is to care for your garments by following the manufacturer's care guidelines as indicated in the care label. If there is a stain, tell your dry cleaner what type it is and when it occurred.
In Canada, we have a voluntary system for care labelling that is used by manufacturers. It is simple and easy to understand and is based on five symbols each with their own meaning. You can read more about Care Labels here, including an extensive PDF file with the Canadian regulations.
If a problem arises after cleaning that is the result of a manufacturing defect, return the garment to the store and ask for a credit or refund. If the retailer refuses, you may have to send it directly to the manufacturer. They can be identified by the "RN" or "CA" number on the care label. Their address can then be obtained from the Competition Bureau. Check the Blue Pages for the regional office nearest you or visit their web site at competition.ic.gc.ca. You can then send the item to the manufacturer via registered mail with an explanation for the return.
If your dry cleaner asks you to sign a consent form, it indicates he/she is aware of a potential problem and wishes to alert you to the fact that there may be some damage caused to your garment in the cleaning process. If you agree to sign, the item will be processed with care and will likely be fine. Be aware, however, that if the garment does become damaged, you have waived your right to compensation because in signing the form you indicated that you were aware of the risks involved.
Sometimes garments are ruined or lost by dry cleaners. How do you know if the compensation offered by your cleaner is fair? There is a tool available to dry cleaners to determine "fair" compensation."
Click Here to view the Step by Step Guide (also available here in French) to help you determine what is fair. Not all dry cleaners use this guide but there are similar guides like this one available to you if you search the Internet. Being realistic about a garment's value (not its sentimental value, but actual value) is the first step in determining compensation for loss.
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