The dry cleaning travails continue.
After leaving the two dry-cleaning services written about previously, I found one I liked. It was next to my new office (well, then-new office; we’ve moved again since then), the service was good, and the owner was friendly. Unfortunately, late last year he developed cancer. I found out about this when he showed me the golf-ball-sized nodule on the back of his neck, which made me shudder and gasp out loud. He got that removed and beat the cancer, but he didn’t have health insurance — and so, in addition to running his dry-cleaning business, he set about working another job in an attempt to pay back everything he owed to the hospital and everyone else. Ultimately, he sold his business, and for not much. He had been a (small) client with my company, and when he came in to settle his final bill, my business partner and I looked at each other and then told him he didn’t owe us anything.
The new owner I wasn’t so crazy about. All of the customer service people were replaced with people who didn’t know what customer service was. Plus, they kept breaking the buttons on my pricier shirts. Now armed with some inside knowledge about dry cleaning, thanks to the writing I had done for the previous owner, I knew the cause: They were using a heat press to dry my shirts. It’s a faster, and therefore cheaper, process. It also frequently stresses and then cracks buttons. Whenever I pointed this out, they gamely offered to replace the button they’d broken, either with one from somewhere else on my shirt, or a mismatched one from a drawer full of scrap buttons. Thanks. Thanks a lot.
After trying another dry cleaner, which charged about double what I’d been paying elsewhere, I got a coupon in the mail from the place where the three teenaged girls argued over who would have to wait on me. I figured those girls had to be gone by now. So I dropped off 24 shirts and a suit, with the coupon. The coupon was clearly marked to save 15% on laundry for shirts. The girl didn’t take the coupon.
“Don’t you want the coupon?” I asked.
“We don’t need it.”
“Then how will they know to take the 15% off?” It wasn’t like she had scanned it or anything.
“I wrote it onto your receipt.”
“Right,” I said. “But I won’t have that when I come back. All you ever ask for is a phone number. That’s all that any dry cleaner ever asks for.”
“That’s okay,” she said. “I wrote the 15% off on your receipt.”
“Which I’m keeping,” I said. “Where is your record of it?”
“On what I wrote.”
“But if I don’t present that to someone when I pick up my clothes?”
“Oh, we’ll still give you the 15% off.”
“Oh, yeah. It’s in the system.”
Tonight I went to get my clothes. The girl who greets me, a different one than the one from two days before, rings it up and says, “$95.20.”
That seemed too high by far. “Did you take off my 15%?”
“What 15%?” she asks. Of course.
“When I dropped those 24 shirts off, I presented a coupon for 15% off.”
“Oh. Do you have it?”
“No. But the girl on Sunday said it’d be in the system.”
“No, I don’t see it.”
“Okay, well, I did. Honest. You mailed me a coupon, and I brought it in here with me when I dropped off the 24 shirts.”
She has no record of that, of course, but goes to see an older woman who approves the discount.
Now she says I owe her 80 dollars and something. I tell her that it costs $2.65 to launder a shirt — I had checked on Sunday — and $10.25 to dry clean a jacket and a pair of pants, and one of those 24 shirts had been silk, which costs $6.95 to dry clean, so my total should be ( ( (23 x $2.65) + $6.95 x .85 ) + ($10.25 x 2), which equals — here, I admit, I pulled out my iPhone — and since there’s no tax on a service, I tell her my total should be $78.22. She looks at me like I’m Stephen Hawking for being able to figure that out. Then she looks plaintively at the older woman who trundles over to supervise.
The older woman starts over from the beginning, and I walk her through my computation. Have I mentioned that at this point a line is forming behind me? Moreover, I have a cold I’ve picked up from one of the several coughing/sneezing members of my family, so one would think I’d rather be home implementing my mother’s traditional Mollie Wochner cure for anything (a shot of whiskey and to bed). But I don’t see why this is difficult, I feel I’m entitled to my discount because it was the coupon offering that brought me in here, and I also have the vague notion that I’m doing a service to this company by instructing their employees in math. The woman runs through it all again, and then announces that I owe $72.07.
“No, it’s $78.22,” I say. Now they’ve gone from overcharging me to undercharging me.
“No, $72.07. Because of your 30% off .”
“What 30% off?”
“Thirty percent off dry cleaning a suit. It was applied to the two pieces of the suit.”
“Why am I getting that?”
“Because you brought in a coupon.”
“No, I brought in a coupon for 15% off, and that was on laundering shirts.”
“Oh. Where is that coupon?”
“I don’t have it! The girl said she put it into the system!”
“It’s not in the system. But she did put in 30% off both of those suit items.”
“But you don’t owe me that!”
“Well, I’m sorry, but it’s in the system. So your total is $72.07.”
Finally, we compromised. Mostly because I was ready to pass out onto the floor. We settled on $74.35. I don’t know why. She asked me to sign a slip of paper saying they had given me that “discount.” I said sure. Whatever. At home, I gave a cursory review to a few of the shirts and didn’t see any broken buttons, so that’s an improvement. But I really don’t feel like haggling over the price of professional laundry.