Pull the pin and stand well back…

Complaining is a real British speciality – and although complaints must be taken seriously, there is humour to be found in this unavoidable situation, as Howard Bradley points out

o my mind the one of the funniest moments from comedian Jasper Carrott involved car insurance claims and the outlandish reasons given by the claimants with gems such as “I parked on the wrong driveway and hit a tree that I have not got”.


I always thought that they were a bit far-fetched but decades spent dealing with complaints in the drycleaning industry have led me to believe that these really may have happened.

Without naming names I have carried out fault investigation for several drycleaning businesses and official national and international standards organisations. Complaints of this nature always have to have forms filled out detailing the actual issues and processing information. In the main, they are straightforward as are most complaints and fairly easy to determine cause and responsibility. Sometimes however I have had some really ‘different’ ones that leave one scratching one’s head.

These are some genuine complaints that I have had to deal with. ■ “The customer says that she brought in a ribbon to be drycleaned and we say she didn’t”

■ “The customer says that these jeans were a skirt when she brought them in for cleaning”

■ “The customer is complaining that his trousers have shrunk” — this was genuinely followed by another form a few days later relating to this which said “The customer has died, there is no rush”

■ “The customer is complaining that when he took his suits out of the wardrobe after cleaning, they had both shrunk”. The date of cleaning


BOMBS AWAY: A relic from Howard’s family’s drycleaning shop shows a prop that stood on the counter. Customers may have thought twice about complaining when confronted with this bad boy. You would have to be really brave to pull the pin out to get the numbered disc…but hopefully the jape provoked laughter rather than fear

showed that they had been cleaned eight years before.

■ “The customer took the duvet to their holiday home and left it there, they say that the smell from the duvet has permeated the walls and that they want a replacement cottage.”

■ “The customer says that the wee down the zip of his trousers is not his and that a member of staff must have done it.”

■ This from a very experienced branch manager: “ I cleaned the wedding dress in pure solvent and I didn’t even used

HOWARD BRADLEY detergent, but it’s gone grey.”

■ One of the most memorable was when a drycleaning branch sent me a complaint item with a blank form. I subsequently contacted the shop and asked why the form was blank the reply was “The customer spoke no English so we did not know what the complaint was”

■ “The customer does not believe that we have drycleaned their suit as it does not smell of drycleaning fluid. Please can you make it smell?”

I was responsible for causing a complaint which I was not expecting. I was asked to clean the theatrical costumes for a large very well known theatrical touring company which was putting on the Oscar Wilde play “The Importance of Being Earnest” and I recall that a pair of trousers had mud on it. Naturally, I did the best job that I could with cleaning all the items only to receive a telephone call from the Wardrobe Keeper after the items were delivered where she complained that I was meant to leave the mud on the trousers as it was a prop. Oh, well, you can’t win them all...

Most of these complaints were eminently avoidable if handled correctly in the shops but I have also learned over several decades of drycleaning, no matter how hard one tries you can please most of the people most of the time, but you will never please all of the people all of the time. ■

June 2021 | LCN 23

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