Who should cough up for the damage to my dress?
Q Mary contacted Smart Consumer about a new dress she bought for her son's wedding that cost €250. After the wedding she had it dry-cleaned but, to her horror, the red dye ran into the fabric making it unwearable.
On complaining to the dry-cleaners Mary writes: "They have stated that the dye used was not fast and therefore the dress was unsuitable for the dry-clean process".
So Ann went back to the boutique where she bought the dress who replied that the "dry-cleaning instructions were correct, and that the cleaners either used excessive bleaching or the garment was exposed to a machine-washing process contrary to label instructions".
Mary wants to recover the cost of the dress and asks: "Who should I pursue?"
A Assuming the boutique is correct in saying that the dry-cleaning label on the dress was accurate, the dry cleaner is at fault here.
The service they carry out has to be carried out with the 'necessary skill' and 'due care and diligence' under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980. As this did not happen, they are now legally obliged to remedy the situation for Mary.
Given the dress cannot be repaired, they have to provide compensation so that the dress can be replaced.
Mary will need to prove the cost of the dress, by a receipt, credit-card statement, or note from the shop. She should ask for the full amount if it is new, but if it's older she would ask for a reduced sum.
If the dry-cleaner says no, I suggest Mary puts her request in writing and adds in that letter that she will take small claims action if she doesn't receive a favourable response.
If needs be, the last resort is the Small Claims procedure and applications can be made online www.courts.ie.