A customer came to our Calera Cleaning Center with an evening dress she had recently bought and wanted us to press it for an event the next evening. After picking it up from us, she took it home and found a stain on the dress that wasn’t there when she brought it in. She just knew we put the stain on the dress and wanted us to remove it since we put the stain on the dress.
Of course, we’re happy to help remove the stain and we won’t even charge to do this even though our customer asked for just our pressing service, not our dry cleaning service. We take our responsibilities for caring for your clothes very seriously.
While we can't be absolutely certain, we likely did not put the stain on the dress. We take great precautions to avoid having food or drink around our customers' clothes. We don’t have oil or grease exposed on our equipment. We're in the dry cleaning business so we understand what stains can do to our customers' clothes. But I also understand our customer being convinced that we put the stain on her dress. After all, the stain was not there when she brought it to us.
So who is right?
This is likely a case where both the customer and the dry cleaner are right…the stain wasn’t there when the customer brought it in and we (most likely) didn’t put the stain on the dress. But how can that be?
This is probably a case of an “invisible stain.”
It was invisible until the heat from steaming and pressing the dress found the stain and caused it to darken. Such a stain can result from food or drink dripped on the dress. It could also be from body oils or perspiration…but that is not likely in this case based on the fact that the dress is new.
Yes, it could be our fault, but it could also be the seamstress who altered the dress, or the clerk in the dress store where it was purchased, or even the customer or someone at her home. But it seems like the dry cleaner gets the “credit” for the stain since our efforts resulted in a previously invisible stain becoming visible. This is the dry cleaners’ “hot potato” and the music stopped when we had the dress in our hands.
Sometimes dry cleaning might get this out without “pre-spotting” but more often this type of stain requires pre-treatment before cleaning. And of course the problem is that the stain is invisible and no one knows about it. In this particular case, the customer requested that we just press the dress so there was no chance of getting this stain out since there were no cleaning procedures requested.
If this type of "invisible" stain gets on most “dry clean only” garments, dry cleaning alone usually will not get the stain out. It requires “pre-spotting.” And if it doesn’t get pre-spotting, the stain could become permanent after one cleaning, or in this case, one pressing.
So if you wear a garment, be very aware of the possibility of food or drink spills. And get your clothes to your dry cleaner as soon as possible and alert us that there might be a food or drink spill present. This will help us help you maintain your wardrobe.
Without sounding too self-serving, let me add that stains are not usually caused by the dry cleaners. But your dry cleaner can certainly help you deal with the stain.
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