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Sheepskin jacket is ruined by the dry cleaner, who refuses to compensate - Please HELP!

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I've taken my 1.5 year old sheepskin jacket to the American Dry Cleaning Company early in February. The lady who served me encouraged me to bring as many items as I could to take advantage of the discount they had in the shop. She also offered to become the member of the dry cleaners so i could get a further discount on dry cleaning service, which I did. She could not find the classification for my jacket leather type in the system and put the normal leather jacket instead of sheepskin in the system and on the receipt. There was a lot of other paper work and she filled in a lot of different forms and asked me to sign lots of them. She said it was just some formality and she needed me to sign it so she can send the items to the specialist for dry-cleaning. When I raised a question about the quality of their service for sheepskin type of leather she said that they send it off to the specialist and he is really good and they never had any issues with him and I should not worry. I've taken her word on that and left my jacket with them.

 

Few weeks later it came back shrunk few sizes, lost color and shine, with disintegrated belt hooks and faded trimming on the button holes and around the edges. It looked horrible! I've refused to accept it and it was sent back to the specialist for investigation and repair. When it was returned few weeks later, it was in not much better condition and I've decided to file for the compensation. The shop assistant filled in the form and sent it to the head office. After not hearing from them for few weeks I called them and was told that it’s being assessed by the specialist and they will come back to me in few days time. I called a week later and was told that it's been repaired again and apparently looks amazing and I should go and collect it from the local shop in the next day. This is not what I was expecting as the jacket was already repaired once and I didn't accept it. Anyway, when I went to the shop to take a look, it turned out they forgot to send it. It's been 2 months since I've left my jacket for cleaning and it's almost April now, the timing it completely unreasonable and the jacket is ruined as far as I am concerned.

 

I had a chat with the customer service person and also with the shop manager who completely refused to compensate me and said that he will only refund the cost of the cleaning, nothing else. He said that I've signed the form where I was warned about the risks and this relieves them of any responsibility for compensation. I've tried to explain that I was not given any copies of such document, and the shop assistant didn't explain in full detail what the forms I was signing were for. I was left under impression it was just to describe what type jacket it was as they had no sheepskin classification in their system and to describe the condition of the item. I feel like complete idiot for being duped like this as the lady who served me seemed so genuine and told me that I have nothing to worry about and the leather specialist they are working with is really good and never had any issues.

 

Today I called the TSA (trading association) for help and they said that this particular company is not their member hence they can't help me. It's very strange as the company's website mentioned that they follow TSA service guidelines, etc...

 

To make things worse, I also don't have a receipt for the jacket as it was bought for cash in a boutique shop abroad almost 1.5 years ago. I paid almost 1500 pounds for it but it never crossed my mind to keep the receipt for such long time.

 

Please help me with some advice; I really don't know what to do now! Shall I go to the small claims court or try to write or talk to any other consumer rights organizations. I don't really know what my rights are in this case. Can I get at least some of the cost of the jacket? My heart bleeds to see that so much money was wasted. I've been saving for a year to buy a jacket like this and didn't get much time to wear it, and now I'll have to buy a new jacket (not as nice and definitely not as expensive) for the next winter.

 

Thank you,

Inna

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hi Inna,

Sorry, I can't advise in detail! It would be worth waiting for some replies to your thread since there are very knowledgeable people here who can advise you.

 

Going to a small claims court may not be a good idea because you don't have a purchase receipt for the jacket (so unable to prove its value) as well as the paperwork you signed at the dry cleaners may state the risk in cleaning.

 

If you can prove that the dry cleaners were negligent and didn't take care of your jacket, then you should be entitled to some form of compensation.

However, you would not be entitled to compensation if the paperwork you signed absolved the dry cleaners of responsibility if there is any damage.

 

I could very well be wrong in the above and hope that other people will provide you with better advice!

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I would ask the dry cleaners for a copy of the form you signed. If they say that you have signed something which limits their liability for the cost of the cleaning, they should show you.

 

Even if that is in the T&Cs, the Unfair Contract Terms Act says that any liability for negligently caused damage to property (like a jacket) can only be excluded, if the exclusion is 'reasonable'. I would say that a blanket exclusion is not reasonable and can be challenged.

 

I would be tempted to proceed with a 'letter before action' asking them to pay for the cost of the jacket. Give them 14 days to respond and state that a county court claim will be issued if no response is received. Only do this if you are prepared to follow through (I think you should - small claims action is quite easy and the risk is low).

 

In the meantime it might be good to try and get the jacket. You will want to have some proof as to its condition, to avoid the store trying to argue that it has been repaired and is all fine.


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the discussions you had at the time will form part of the contractual obligations for both parties so the reassurance you received verbally will make a big difference to other conditions that may or may not be published.

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