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Laudromat ruined clothes - recourse?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure if this is in the wrong place or not, but it is clothing related, and I didn't know where to put it. Moderators, feel free to move it if you think appropriate.

I'm in need of advice. I dropped my laundry off at the laundromat for full service washing. Upon picking it up, there was a note attached to my laundry bag (stapled right through the bag, I should state) that said "no charge." Unsure why, I opened the bag to discover a plastic bag inside the bag with 5 pairs of underwear and a t-shirt. The underwear and T were ruined beyond description (burned, hardened, i don't know) Example Picture:

(those waistbands were white!).

The manager wasn't in, so I got his name and was told to return the next day. Upon getting home I opened up the laundry bag to discover that those 5 pairs of underwear and that shirt were the least of my problems. Nearly the entire bag was ruined. This stuff is not even donation worthy.

I itemized everything and went in today with the list and the laundry to speak with the manager. He was very short with me, and completely unsympathetic, expressing mostly that "this isn't my fault." This stuff had all been washed and dried dozens of times before and there was certainly nothing IN the clothes that could have caused this (he blamed it on "special fabrics." Bullshit!).

Then he cited that the washing instructions (on the underwear) were only symbols and not writing and that he can't read that. Most of his employees don't speak English very well and these symbols are there for the express purposes of people of ALL languages to be able to understand them. AND he owns a laundromat for christsakes!

Luckily there was nothign really nice in the wash (or I wouldn't have dropped it off), but the sheer quantity of stuff that was ruined adds up (plus now I have to replace a bunch of underwear and things because they were all ruined. My itemized list added up MODESTLY came to about $550. I told him this and he offered me $50 in CREDIT. I said that was ridiculous and I thought that $200 in cash was a VERY VERY fair request. He scoffed at this and told me there was no way I was getting any monetary compensation. We argued for a bit back and forth (though civilly), but he wouldn't budge and I thought I was already being overly modest.

I was wondering what kind of recourse I have here. I don't want to sue anyone, I don't want to call a lawyer, I don't want to get into anything ridiculous over this, but I'm pissed and annoyed if nothing else.

AND in the middle of writing this...He just called me to tell me he'd give me $120 cash (ten times the ticket price for the laundry) and that was the best he'd do. I said I'd think about it.

I'd love to hear people's thoughts on this.


post #2 of 10
OK if you don't want to call a lawyer or go to court you should counter his $120.00 with your $550.00. It sounds like the laundry guy spoke to his lawyer, otherwise he wouldn't be calling you out of the blue with a cash offer. I would file it in small claims and then he will more than likely up his offer and you can settle.
post #3 of 10
Call him back and say you will take $200, or take him to Small Claims Court. He might increase his offer of $120 or he might tell you to go ahead and take him to court.

If you do go to Small Claims Court you will probably be awarded a fair sum. But it will take some time and is a bit of a hassle. One advantage of small claims court is that no lawyer is needed.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
How long does small claims court take, generally speaking?

post #5 of 10
Take it to Judge Judy and you'll be done before Days of Our Lives starts.


p.s. I sympathize with you and, regardless of how long it takes, I would take him to court. IF he has to pay a hefty fee, he'll then be MUCH more careful with customers in the future and will instruct his staff not to destroy laundry (or to learn to read the international symbols, which are there for people who don't speak English!). So, you can look at yourself as a enactor of social change.
post #6 of 10
A friend of mine went on Peoples' Court many years ago because her dog destroyed her landlady's draperies. It was hilarious!
post #7 of 10
Take the burned clothes with you to small claims court.
post #8 of 10
I have heard this complaint so much , I think we need to form a union; the United Sartorialists 320 and boycott them.

I would do three things:
(1) Follow up your conversation with a letter sent USPS with delivery and signature confirmation explaining exactly what he did, and his conversation , particularly the part that he hired unqualified workers who didn't know the basic symbols and ask for the amount you are owed. I think there is something about "making you whole" meaning if your 20 old used car get's hit you only get bluebook, not a brand new car.

(2) Next File a BBB.ORG complaint against the business.

(3) small claims last.
post #9 of 10
The bad news is that even if you go to court and win, the amount you win is likely to be unsatisfactory.

You are entitled to your damages. Most of us think of this as the value to repurchase the ruined clothes. Unfortunately, what was ruined weren't new clothes, but used clothes. Accordingly, what you would usually be awarded is amount sufficient to acquire equivalent used clothes.

In most instances, if a cleaner ruins your clothes, you're pretty much out of luck unless you provide them with so much business, they're willing to make good just to keep you as a customer.

People should also take a look at their homeowner's/condo/renter's insurance policies to make sure they have replacement coverage so that the insurance will cover the replacement cost of any ruined clothing (and used furniture, etc.) rather than just the value of the ruined items.

post #10 of 10
At least it wasn't expensive if were my zimerelli underwear, I'd be furious...
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