So, here's the deal. At the dry cleaner's, every now and then we make a mistake. Like, a big one that ruins your clothing. There's a rain jacket in the back that the bosses kept as an example to the new hires as to why it is VERY important to read the care label every time. This particular rain jacket had been a 'do not dry clean' item, however it had been sent through the drycleaning process instead of the wash. For those who don't know the drycleaning process (I didn't when I started, I assumed it had something to do with steam), the 'dry' part means 'no water' not 'no liquid'. The drycleaning machine looks a lot like a normal washing machine, except instead of water it uses a chemical bath. Some things cannot go through this process because they will have a chemical reaction with the solution that will ruin it; beads or sequins will melt, and if someone forgets to empty a lighter out of a pocket the entire place will go up in a big ol' BOOM. So this coat had been made of a material that had a chemical reaction with the solution, and had turned from (what I assume had been) some kind of gore-tex woven material to a very crunchy-sounding flexible plastic. We referred to it as the Crinkly Coat.
When something like that happens, we will 1) refund the money for the drycleaning process and 2) buy the item. You don't get to keep the item, and why would you want to? It's ruined. We give you the money that the item cost you, we keep the item, you go out and buy a new one. You are left in the same place you were before you set foot in our store. We do not give you the money for you to buy a new item and let you keep it, because then you would either have a free cleaning and a free brand-new item, or a free cleaning and a free (insert dollar amount here).
Not entirely related, but I was strangely entertained by the Crinkly Coat. If I was having a bad day, I would go over to the back, crush a sleeve between my hands for a couple seconds, and walk away giggling.
This story, however, is not about the Crinkly Coat. This is about a perfectly normal wool coat that went through our process, and looked exactly like every other coat that had ever gone through. Crazy Coat Lady apparently did not approve of this. She claimed that the coat had been very soft and fuzzy before going in, and came back rough and flat with the fuzziness gone.
Another thing about the drycleaning process: it is EXTREMELY gentle. Two examples that I was given are this: If you have a tissue in your pocket, in the washer it will come out as a big clump; in the dry cleaner, it will come out perfectly unharmed, and even a bit smoother for the process. If you smush a tomato on your pants, they will come out with seeds still attached. So, being such a gentle process, it is most likely impossible that her 100% wool coat had any harm come to it. It looked like every single other coat that had ever come out of that store.
So after about a week of back-and-forth after she made her complaint, my manager sent the coat back to the mall location with her refund for the cleaning and a form for her to sign in two places. The first part of the form stated that she was accepting the money back for her jacket (around $17), the second part stated that she would not take any further action against the company. I was also told to not give her the coat until after she had signed it.
Crazy Coat Lady was having none of that. She read it over, then asked if she could see the coat. Well, even though I was not supposed to let her have the coat without signing, what was I supposed to do? Say "Oh, sorry, you're not allowed to see your own property"? So I brought it out front to let her see it. I tried to keep one hand on it as I hung it on the rack over the counter, but she took it down and started criticizing the work again.
She claimed that it had been sent through the machine again when she had not wanted it to, and while I had not been explicitly told that it had not been tampered with, I told her that I didn't see any reason why they would do that and it was most likely not the case. After all, why would they bother putting even more work into cleaning something when it's already been established the customer was not happy and they would be losing money?
She just got all cranky and muttered 'They did it again'. So she told me she would sign the first part of the form, but not the second, because she fully intended to go after them for the price of the coat. I say that I had been told not to give her the coat until she had signed it, and try to pick it up off the counter. She has a deathgrip on the thing, and after one half-hearted tug I just let it go. No way in hell am I going to play tug-of-war over her own coat, no matter what my manager had said. We had not paid to replace her coat, therefore it was still her coat, and I was not going to try and claim otherwise.
So I call down to the main location, get my supervisor on the line and tell her of this. She tells me that she has to sign it to get her coat and refund, as she had been asking for not only the refund, but also for us to give her the money for a new coat while she KEPT her old coat, because she was going to go to another dry cleaner's and get them to try to fix it.
That is not how this works. If we give you money for your coat, it is because it is RUINED. If you are going to go somewhere and have it fixed then continue wearing it, it is NOT RUINED, and we will not be giving you money to buy a new coat because then you will have gotten free drycleaning for the coat you are still wearing and an additional free coat.
While I'm talking to my supervisor and relaying information between the two, the lady takes issue and starts ranting about how she was not going to sign it because she wanted her money. She is being so loud that I end up angling the phone towards her (while still being held inches from my ear, and about 2-3ft from her mouth) and when she is finished, ask my supervisor if she got that. She did indeed, loud and clear.
So she tells me to put Crazy Coat Lady on the phone, and I hand it to her. She starts ranting and raving, and one point nearly SCREAMING "We are not TALKING about purchasing my favourite coat, I would like to KEEP my favourite coat!" and continues ranting about how they ruined her coat and we owe her the money. Then mid-sentence, she stops talking, and after about a half second's hesitation SLAMS the phone down on the counter, grabs her coat, grabs the form she was supposed to sign, and storms off without another word.
Somewhat stunned, I pick up the phone and see that the line is still open, so I hold it to my ear and hear my supervisor's voice, which sounds quite irritated.
Supervisor: "Have you calmed DOWN now?!?"
Me: "Umm, no, she slammed the phone on the counter and stormed off with the form."
Supervisor: "Oh, that must have been when I put her on hold. I'm not going to just stand here and be talked to that way."
Supervisor: "Did she get the money?" (it had been in an envelope stapled to the form she was supposed to sign)
Me: "No, I took it off before I handed it to her."
Supervisor: "Well, I don't know why she took the form, there's nothing useful on there."
Me: "I don't know."
Supervisor: "Well, don't worry about it. I'll leave a note for the owner."
She had ended up staying a while after her shift in order to be there in case I needed to call, and I ended up staying later as well because the time she spent screaming was the time that I usually spent putting away the deliveries from the main location. We actually got a bit of a laugh from the whole situation, though, which is good. Fortunately, we never saw or heard from her again. Well, I did see her once, but it was at a grocery store and she didn't recognize me. I'm pretty sure she was wearing her 'ruined' coat, though.
There are a couple more memorable stories from the dry cleaner's, but this one is by far the most entertaining. If anyone wants to hear more, I'll try and remember the details and submit them. Working there wasn't all bad... we got free suckers, the boss would order take-out on the employees' birthdays, and during the Christmas season a lot of customers would bring in chocolates for us. I even got a tip once, it was either $5 or $10, can't quite recall. I didn't keep it, though. I saw someone busking on my way home and gave it to him. Felt good to pay it forward.
Anywho, that's all for today.
May all of your customers be sane. Or at least good for a laugh.