Open Forum

Subject: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

1.  Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 02-11-2015 22:12
I have a self-serve customer who burned her clothes in one of my dryers and wants compensation. The items (silk sheets, a comforter and a couple of other items) didn't have any tags on them with wash/dry temperature instructions. Wondering how people usually handle this? Credit for the dry, some compensation for the clothes, politely point out we can't be responsible for their actions? I keep the machines well maintained so I don't think the temperature is off and if I made them any colder I'd have people complain the heat is too low. ------------------------------ Samer Hakoura Store Owner ACM Suds New York NY ------------------------------


2.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 02-11-2015 22:40

I usually check the temperature of the dryer with a laser thermometer first to ensure that the dryer is not overheating and run it empty and look from behind to make sure that it is cycling.  Next I would inform the customer that as a self-service customer that you are not responsible.  Do you have signs stating this policy?

Do you have a card system to determine how long they had the clothes in the dryer?  If not, did they say how long the dryer was running.  Silk sheets can easily burn in 20 minutes on high.

Are they a regular customer?  What was their attitude?  I would never admit responsibility, but I may offer a small credit as a courtesy.


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James DeLeo
NY / NJ
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3.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 02-11-2015 22:46
James - thanks for the response. To answer your questions: Card system, 30min on high, signs throughout the store. With the laser thermometer, do you aim that through the glass as the dryer is working to get an accurate number? Any suggestions on which thermometer to get? Many thanks ------------------------------ Samer Hakoura Store Owner ACM Suds New York NY ------------------------------


4.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 02-12-2015 07:59
Edited by Paulie B 02-12-2015 08:00

You must open the door and quickly direct the laser dot to a dark spot in the dryer. Glass will reflect some of the reading, and so will shiny metal, giving you a lower temperature than what is true. I bought my Laser Thermometer from Harbor freight. It's accurate. 

Also, if you  keep your dryers clean of lint on a regular basis, it is not likely that the fire will grow past the actual pocket.

What model dryer?

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Paulie B
Store Owner
Mr Machine
NYC NY
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5.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 02-13-2015 06:55
On Dexter dryers you press 'two' buttons on the control panel' and it reads the temperature.   check your manual.

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FRANCIS J PIRAINO
Other
POCONO SUMMIT PA
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6.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 04-24-2015 07:30
Edited by April Smith Miller 04-27-2015 13:14

To what extent do you keep the dryers clean of lint. We clean the filters every day. Is that enough?
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PHILLIP E STUMBO
ALLEN KY



7.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 02-12-2015 06:20

Samer,

Years ago in my parents' laundromat a fellow claimed that a dryer had ruined all of his expensive silk shirts.  It turned out that the insurance company knew all about this fellow and this particular scam of his.  The claim was rejected and nothing more was heard from the fellow.

Suggest you verify the claim to ensure you are not being scammed.

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Andrew Marosy
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8.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 04-26-2015 08:05


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PHILLIP E STUMBO
ALLEN KY
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How often do you clean the lint filters?



9.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 04-27-2015 07:47
Daily without exception ------------------------------ Samer Hakoura ACM Suds New York NY ------------------------------


10.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 04-27-2015 08:49


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PHILLIP E STUMBO
ALLEN KY
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Is the lint filters the only place we have to clean lint?



11.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 02-12-2015 07:39

Depending on the size of the dryer used. If a 30# dryer that turns in only in direction could be overloaded with these items.

Depending on comforter size the sheets and other items could be pressed up on the drum and burn.


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Harry
Store Owner
SupaWash Laundromat
Ashland, MA
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12.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 02-12-2015 07:51
Be thankful that the store did not burn down.

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JOEL BLITZER
Other
WESTBURY NY
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13.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 02-12-2015 08:33

Samer,

We all know that a customer will spend between $600-$1000 per year in our Laundromat.  We don't want to drive away customers, but we also don't want to be responsible for their own mistakes. If the dryer over-heat is our fault, we pay what ever the customer asks (within reason).

On a customer error this is where it gets trickier.  Our philosophy has been that the clothes have already been used and so the maximum figure would be 50% of the replacement value.  If this ever went to small claims court the judge would allow a depreciation of the clothes value to be accepted.

The balance is to make the customer fell like they received something.  They may not be happy but you don't want them pissed off where they leave you.  I usually start out the conversation saying lets look at the care labels on the garments and then lead into we we have signs clearly stating that "Not responsible for any loss or damages".  Then I take about used clothes and depreciation and if you were to purchase these at the Goodwill store what would you pay...  Then I ask them what do they think is a fair offer?  If it is 50% of the replacement value then I'll pay it.  More times than not it is even a lower number.

I believe you can gain your customers "respect" just my talking to them one on one.  Remember you are in control.  Also remember that there are some customers that you just can NOT afford to have and you have to gently tell them that they have several other Laundromat choices if they are not satisfied with your store.  (That is the nuclear trump card and not to be used lightly.)

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Karl Hinrichs
HK Laundry Equipment Inc.
President
Armonk, NY
914-273-5757
karl@HKLaundry.com
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14.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 02-12-2015 09:34


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Brian DeCoster
Store Owner
Laundromania
Iowa City IA
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How long is your cool down?



15.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 02-12-2015 10:08
Karl is correct with respect to the way to handle the customer In our operation this is a very common occurance. The way I have taught my attendants to handle it is to look for the wash and care tag, if the tag is missing they have been tought to identify the type of fabric. I have a wash and care cheat sheet in the attendants room that explains how to wash and dry different types of fabrics. The attendant will then explain to the customer that we cannot be responsible for the clothes being laundered incorrectly. I have authorized the attendants to give the customer a free wash and dry coupon for their next visit as compensation. I do not ever pay for the clothes. The other thing I do is I allow the customer to look through the clothes/blankets that have been left by other customers (only those that have been around for more than a week)to find a replacement. That often times takes the fight out of them. ------------------------------ Daryl Johnson Store Owner Giant Wash Laundry Saint Ansgar IA ------------------------------


16.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 02-13-2015 07:05

i'm in agreement with the above. I have 10 stores now, we generally give refunds without explanation. It doesn't matter what happened, I will refund, rewash, pay for almost anything without blinking a eye. The reason being is, 1 customer bad mouthing you is the WORST possible advertisement you can have. If it cost you a few bucks to replace, repair, or rewash something. I don't think you can have any idea of what it will cost you with a customer having to be excorted out of your store for arguing with you about how there clothes got ruined for a hour till the cops get there. Worst possible thing that can happen in my opinion.

 

now silk sheets and all, I would get kinda crafty in my replacement. no tags, well they would get back the CHEAPEST replacement I could find, WITH NO TAGS, as long as it was like for like! must be comparable, and if you give them a replacement that doesn't have tags also, they cant possibly complain (but I am sure they will)

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Ben Gottlieb
Store Owner
Coin Laundry
Jacksonville FL
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17.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 02-13-2015 07:38
I really appreciate everyone's responses. Thank you. I have 34lb Huebsch JT0300DRG dryers and I'll check what the cool down time is. I called the customer and I believe we settled it amicably - she originally wanted $500. I've paid up to $150 before on WDF mistakes we've made but $500 would wipe out the annual spend of a customer. So I politely explained how I am sympathetic to her position as a customer but that it's hard for us to be responsible for clothes we didn't handle even with WDF, items that can get damaged usually have "dry in low only" tags etc. and we settled on crediting her laundry card for 2 washes and 2 drys. ------------------------------ Samer Hakoura Store Owner ACM Suds New York NY ------------------------------


18.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 02-13-2015 10:56
From $500 down to 2 washes and 2 drys? Wow.

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K J
Store Owner
Binghamton
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19.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 02-14-2015 08:45
I think it was less to do with any particular negotiating skills than the fact that I've learned some of my customers are in the habit of overeggagerating: people who are super sensitive to a 5cent change in prices are also claiming to buy "$350 tshirts" that turn out to be from the Gap. Which is why I wanted to know how other owners handle item claims- that fine line between respecting the customer but also not being taken advantage of. I appreciate all the responses on this forum. ------------------------------ Samer Hakoura Store Owner ACM Suds New York NY ------------------------------


20.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 04-22-2015 22:25
Edited by Chris Mallam 04-22-2015 22:25

I have an issue that I will deal with in the morning.  A customers' satin sheet blew past the drum and bulkhead tonight and got caught in the rollers.  Should I offer to pay for the sheet?  I'm sure she's going to say they cost $100 or something.
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Chris Mallam
Clean N Brite
Norfolk VA
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21.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 04-23-2015 07:00

Here's a little trick I have used when paying for damaged clothes. Suppose the customer wants $50 for the damage. After assessing the age and prior condition of the damaged clothes I might offer $20 in laundry service or $10 in cash. If they choose the cash option, after handing them the $10, I give them another $5 "for being so understanding" about the situation. Suddenly they are pleased with the outcome.
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- Winston
Owner, Manager
Mid-Atlantic U.S.
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22.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 04-23-2015 07:04

Chris,

It sounds like that dryer has a defective or non-existent filler.  You're responsible for the damage.  In fact, if the sheet is part of a set (they usually are); a judge would likely order you to replace the entire set if a matching sheet is not available.

Try settling with her for just the cost of her sheet and get that filler replaced before operating the dryer again.

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Larry Adamski
Muskegon Laundromat
Spring Lake MI
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23.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 04-23-2015 08:53
I talked to her and she was really polite. She said that she has been coming here for years without a problem. I explained that there is a felt seal that should have prevented this from happening. Since she claims that she spent $22 for them and they are brand new, I agreed to pay her for the replacement. She doesn't drive, so I will even offer a ride to the store where she purchased them which is right down the street. ------------------------------ Chris Mallam Clean N Brite Norfolk VA ------------------------------


24.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 04-23-2015 09:39

Chris,

 You are definitely on the right track.   Go one more step and buy it for her and deliver it to her house?  You can't pay for the positive word-of-mouth advertising that it will generate.

 

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James DeLeo
NY / NJ
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25.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 04-23-2015 13:15

As a form of preventing some dryer liability.

 

Set all your dryers to default to MEDIUM heat.  Yes the customer is going to select HI, but then it puts more responsibility on the customer.  It has been a very long time since I have been 'pressed' for compensation.  Most customers KNOW they messed-up, especially that fleece cloth.  If the equipment fails, the customer comes first.  If the customer makes the choice to burn up their stuff - no one can stop them.


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Timothy Foster
Owner, Manager
Toledo
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26.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 04-23-2015 14:55
I made the transition from default medium setting to default delicate setting. Now in order to burn their own clothes, not only they would need to load their clothes into dryer pockets, and manually press the start button, but also they would need to set their temperature settings to something other than the default setting.

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J H (John)
Owner
NYC
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27.  RE: Self serve customers burning clothes in dryer

Posted 04-24-2015 08:56
Edited by Chris Mallam 04-24-2015 08:58
I paid for her sheets and gave her a little extra for gas. Everyone's satisfied. I had to order a new dryer drum though. The metal was gouged away in the rear, causing the drum to sag, not sitting flush with the front cover. It exposed a 1/4" gap between the drum and the front bulkhead. ...fix one thing, something else breaks. All temps are defaulted to medium, 165 degrees. ------------------------------ Chris Mallam Clean N Brite Norfolk VA ------------------------------