What redress do I have if my clothes are damaged and the drycleaner said they followed the care instructions on the label?
You can ask the drycleaner for compensation, complain to the Drycleaning Institute of Australia or the Dry Cleaning Complaints Arbitration Board, who will investigate if it was really the drycleaner's fault or that the instructions on the care label were inaccurate. You can also take the damaged garment back to the retailer you bought it from and explain that the garment was damaged although care instructions were followed. You can demand a refund under your statutory rights. If this fails, you may lodge a complaint with the ACCC and/or take your complaints to a consumer or small claims court in your state.
Can I make a claim for damage if I bought my garments or textiles second-hand?
Yes. Second-hand garments and textiles are excluded from the mandatory care labelling standard, but you may be able to make a claim for the damage of your garment. The catch is you may need to produce a receipt - which is not always possible when buying second-hand items - to make a claim. Go to the Drycleaning Institute of Australia's Fair Claims Guide (or the Dry Cleaning Complaints Arbitration Board's website for a comprehensive PDF copy) to find out the replacement value of your item.
Why doesn't the drycleaner return my garments after I've been compensated for the damage they caused?
It is the drycleaner's responsibility to remove the damaged garment from circulation as it is no longer serviceable.
Why is there such a wide range of pricing among drycleaners?
Pricing depends on location, competition and quality of service. Shop rentals mean a shopping mall drycleaner is likely to charge more than one located outside. Your local chemist or tailor may also double as commissioned agents for drycleaners, who leverage on them to build volume. These business owners benefit from drawing customers into their shop.
Why are men’s clothes cheaper than women’s to dryclean?
Men’s shirts are similar in size and fabric composition and new shirt-pressing equipment have been designed for this classification of clothes. Women’s shirts – often smaller and with more detailing – are not suitable for high-volume shirt presses.
Are Perc and GreenEarth environmentally friendly?
When released into the air, perchloroethylene (perc) can contribute to smog when it reacts with other volatile organic compounds (VOC). In Australia, drycleaners must use an approved transporter to remove perc waste and take it to an Environment Protection Agency-licensed facility. Hydrocarbon solvents are less aggressive than perc, but also contain VOCs that contribute to smog. Liquid silicone – the same base ingredient found in everyday shampoos, soaps and lotions – is more environmentally friendly than perc and other hydrocarbons, and is odorless and non-toxic. “GreenEarth”, a silicone-based dry-cleaning solution patented by GreenEarth Cleaning, is not a VOC and degrades within days to silica and trace amounts of water and carbon dioxide.
However, only a handful of drycleaners use this in Australia, as it costs more than double the price of perc and users must pay an annual fee to GreenEarth Cleaning.