Local cleaners damage wedding dress, refuse to help bride

Local cleaners damage wedding dress, refuse to help bride


by KATIE KILLEN / NBC Charlotte


Posted on February 5, 2014 at 5:20 AM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 5 at 6:09 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- For many women, it's the most important dress they'll ever wear. 

But, when a local bride took her wedding dress to an area cleaner before the big day, she got much more than she bargained for. 

It was just two weeks before Kristen Kelly's wedding day when a hand-made sash on her dress was shredded. 

"I'm not a crier, but I cried in my car.  I was so upset," said Kelly.  The wedding dress was a splurge. 

"I am not one to spend money on things, but I spent money on the dress because it's the most extravagant dress you'll ever wear in your entire life. I think it's worth feeling beautiful on your wedding day." 

Later, she bought a vintage, hand-beaded sash on the website Etsy.  The sash had to be sewn onto the gown by a seamstress. 

Two weeks before the wedding, Kelly had bridal portraits done.

"The bottom of the dress got very dirty and I needed that cleaned," she said. 

Kelly took the dress to County Cleaners in Harrisburg with what she says were very explicit instructions for the attendant. 

"I just said, 'just the bottom spot cleaned' and she said, 'not a problem.'" 

However, there was a problem when she went to pick up the dress. 

"The whole dress was cleaned, just put in and cleaned, the whole entire dress, including the handmade, hand-beaded sash that I had to on the dress that I knew, could not be cleaned." 

According to Kelly, the sash was beyond repair. 

"There are threads hanging off [and] there's beads hanging off, there's beads missing.  I actually heard a few clink to the floor when i picked up the dress." 

Kelly says the cleaner made her pay for the cleaning, before she could leave with the dress.

She said the total to contact the designer of the sash, have her make a new one, rush ship it, have a seamstress take off the old sash, replace the old with the new, plus the cost of that cleaning: $360. 

She says she contacted the manager of County Cleaners several times to get a reimbursement. 

"She called the owner and the owner told her there was nothing they could do about because I signed a waiver," said Kelly. 

Kelly admits to signing that waiver and says she didn't receive a copy, but argues she only signed with the idea that the dress would be spot cleaned at the bottom---not the entire dress dry cleaned. 

"I said the waiver is only good if you do the services i authorize," Kristin said.  NBC Charlotte tried to talk to the manager at County Cleaners in Harrisburg. 

We asked for a copy of that waiver, but the manager wouldn't provide it.  The store’s owner told us he had no comment and asked us to leave the property. 

 Kelly did file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau against County Cleaners' Harrisburg location. 

The BBB contacted the cleaners on Kelly’s behalf, but County Cleaners didn't respond. 

"Personally, I don't care if they say, the heck with the BBB, but to say that to your customer when they've gone to us, gone online to voice their concerns, you are definitely risking it," said Tom Bartholomy, BBB president. Bartholomy said businesses should consider waivers on an individual basis. 

"You know you can have all of the forms and everything that you want to line up, but, hey look at the situation.  She specifically said, I want these services provided [but] the service you provided damaged the dress," said Bartholomy. 

In fact, County Cleaners has several location across Charlotte all owned by the same person.

The BBB combines all locations on their website.  County Cleaners currently has an F rating, in part, because other customers have filed complaints with the BBB and County Cleaners let them go unanswered. 

As for Kristen Kelly, her October 11, 2013 wedding was unforgettable and she did replace that sash.  However, more unexpected, the weeks leading up to the big day, equally memorable.