CHICAGO — People trust dry cleaners with materials that are valuable to them, and the customers are as unique as the clothing they want cleaned. The interaction between cleaner and customer can sometimes be forgettable — for good for not-so-good.
Do You Believe in Miracles?
Unlike the experiences in Part 1 of this series, not every customer interaction makes for fond memories, but those can leave an impression all the same.
Monika Manter, owner of Balfurd Dry Cleaner in State College, Pennsylvania, recalls a time when a customer claimed the business performed a miracle — and not in a good way.
“There was a woman who accused us of changing the color of her blazer during dry cleaning,” Manter says. “She claimed that we turned her navy blazer to black. When I showed her that the invoice also stated that it was navy, she said that she was 100% sure of the color of her blazer and that we must have edited the color on the ticket after we dyed it.”
Manter tried to make sense out of the situation, but that turned out to be an impossible mission.
“She was 100% sure that it was her blazer, just that it was a new color,” she says. “I explained to her that we don’t use dyes and it’s not possible to make a blazer darker during dry cleaning, but she still wanted a reimbursement.”
Manter reports that no reimbursement was issued as a result of the “miracle.”
“It was the first time she used us and she never came back — as far as I know!”
The Case of the Missing Khakis
On the whole, Sasha Ablitt, who owns Ablitt’s Fine Cleaners in Santa Barbara, California, has had good fortune with her clients. “I have only ‘banned’ three customers in 20 years,” she says. “They all came back anyway — using different names, as though we wouldn’t recognize them.”
But there was one client who struck fear in Ablitt’s heart.
“I was new to the cleaners and this male customer was coming in two or three times a day demanding a pair of khaki pants,” she says. “We had given him all his clothes, but he insisted he was missing another pair of pants.”
This went on for a few days, and the customer was growing increasingly agitated.
“The following day, I was out doing a route in a gated golf-course community in an affluent area,” she says. “He spotted the company logo on our van and started aggressively following me. I was nervous because I was new to the business, I couldn’t see who was in the car following me, and I didn’t know the roads in the area very well.”
The man drove Ablitt off the road.
“I was so scared,” she says. “He hops out of the car and asks to see the inside of my van to check if his pants were there. I was little relieved to know who he was, but I was still apprehensive. I assured him they weren’t, and he took a look for himself. I was shaking, even though he was, at that moment, now acting reasonable.”
Ablitt believes the man must have recognized his behavior was out of line, because his demeanor quickly shifted.
“When he left,” she recalls, “he said, ‘Thank you for checking. I’m in the middle of a divorce and my wife must have them. I just wanted to be sure.’”
Ablitt and her team didn’t see the man for about six months but he eventually returned. Since then, he has been a pleasure to work with.
“He is still a good customer and even a friend now,” she says.
Come back Thursday for the conclusion of this series, where we’ll hear stories of cleaners calling customers bluffs, good dogs and nearly naked men. For Part 1 of this series, click HERE.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].