This company mislead us to believe that they were personally cleaning my daughters gown on site but they sent it to another dry cleaner instead.
I ordered cleaning service without preservation for my daughters wedding gown on Feb 8t, 2013 and the cost of service was $320.00. The gown was purchased at Bridal Galleria and the cost of the gown was $4000.00. The gown was last worn on July 2012.
The customer service at Heritage Garment was good up front and we were impressed. The problems started once my daughter received her gown back and opened the box. She immediately noticed that the gown was dark and dingy and the bodice was pressed so hard that there were creases on the bodice where before these were rolled soft folds. This detail was one of the reasons we bought the gown. She took a piece of fabric that wasn't cleaned and compared that to the gown. It was clear the gowns color had changed and was no longer the same.
Recognizing that her gown was damaged she asked me to contact Heritage Garment for follow up. Here's how it went:
4/16 I emailed their customer service agent ******* explaining the gowns condition and expressing how disappointed we were.
4/17 ******* responds saying that she will ''consult with her associates'' on how they were going to solve the problem and she would get back to me.
4/I7 ******* ask to contact my daughter and I replied that l would be handling this for my daughter since I live locally and my daughter lives in NYC. I also felt it was my responsibility to resolve this since I was the one who sent Heritage Garment the gown instead of using the gown cleaner Bridal Galleria recommend to us in Campbell.
4/26 Heritage Garment sends me a request to review them on Yelp and The Knot. Obviously, they have an automatic system that they do not monitor carefully.
5/17 I send ******* a message saying that I took the gown to 3 different dry cleaners in my local area including the gown cleaner I was referred to first, and each cleaner confirmed that the gowns color was damaged. We decided to ask Heritage Garment to reimbursed us for the damages and the cost of the service. ******* then ask to have the gown returned to them to fix saying that those other cleaners are not experienced to fix the gown. My daughter didn't feel comfortable sending Heritage Garment the gown back and just wanted to have the service cost refunded so she could find someone qualified to repair the gown if possible. I also didn't feel they were experienced to repair the gown. I finally hired a textile conservator locally who was recommend to me by the Los Angles County Museum in CA.
5/20 ******* emails me the following:
Dear *******, just a quick note to let you know that we've received your mail and the copy of your daughter's mail. I'm consulting with my partners and with our lawyer right now. We will have the answer for you tomorrow or the day after. Thank you for your patience.
11/25/13 As of today, ******* has had well over 5 months to seek legal advice but still no response to our messages or any refund. Maybe this was a stall tactic or perhaps a way to intimidate us?
I am now considering filing a formal complaint with the Contra Costa DA's office for fraud since this company led us to believe that they were personally cleaning my gown on site however, they can't dry clean on site since they are not licensed by the City of Benicia to do so. Their permit only allows them to wash gowns in the two bathtubs in the back room of their establishment. Any gowns requiring to be dry cleaned MUST be sent away to clean. So, we paid $320.00 to have Heritage Garment send our gown to the local Benicia dry cleaner who cleans gown for $125.00.
From the start this company mislead us to believe they were personally overseeing the dry cleaning of my daughters gown. Only after they damaged the gown did we learn they can't even dry clean on site and that they send all their dry cleaning out to a local normal cleaner. This to me, is unethical and fraud.
I am asking for a refund in the amount of $320.00 for which I paid Heritage for the cleaning service. I would also like to see this company change their website information to reflect the fact that they DO NOT dry clean the gowns they receive from their customers. This discloser would prevent any misunderstanding on who cleans their gowns, where the gowns are being cleaned, and the liability that comes with subcontracting the cleaning services out. I feel it is up to the consumer to decide if cleaning on site is important or not. I can assure you if Heritage told me they were sending my daughters gown out to normal dry cleaner I would't have shipped the gown to them and paid the higher price for service. They mislead their qualifications and experience to sell their services. I strongly believe that all this information is important for customers to know before leaving their gowns with Heritage Garment Preservation.
Contact Name and Title: ******* **** - partner
Contact Phone: ************
Contact Email: *******@************.com
We are very sorry that ******* was not satisfied with our wedding gown cleaning service; however we do need to respond to her allegations and truly hope that she can still be a satisfied customer.
******* contracted our services on Jan 2013 for ''Cleaning Only'' her daughter's wedding dress. We received the dress in February, inspected, determined its treatment, presented for approval via e-mail, and after that was done, proceeded with the cleaning process. Our inspection notes describe the dress as very dirty, some ruffles undone and suggested hand wet cleaning as the right process to reach the best results. The dress was cleaned accordingly, pressed and repaired, even when repairs were not requested nor paid for. ******* mentioned her desire of selling the dress and we wanted to send the dress with the best presentation possible to facilitate the sell.
We shipped her dress on April 12 and then a few days later received an e-mail from ******* expressing her daughter's dissatisfaction with the results. We e-mailed each other discussing the problems and trying to reach an agreement when the communication stopped on June 6 when we sent our last email with no reply.
On Nov 27th we received a notice from BBB stating *******'s complaint in which ******* alleges that...
* Her wedding dress was cleaned off site and that she was unaware that it would be cleaned off site.
* She did not receive a reply from us after her email of May 25.
* Her wedding dress color was changed during processing and that the pressing was done incorrectly.
* We misled her into believing we were dry-cleaners, and we are a fraudulent business.
1. ******* alleges that her wedding dress was cleaned off site. This is incorrect, as all work on *******'s wedding gown was done in our facility at ********************* in Benicia. It is true that we do not have dry cleaning equipment in our facility, however her wedding gown was not dry cleaned. The treatment planned and accepted for the condition and style of *******'s ******* ********* dress was ''Silk Wet Care'', which is done in our facility. About 95% of the wedding dresses we process are hand cleaned on site using water and professional chemicals instead of dry cleaning solvents.
******* was notified via e-mail of the suggested treatment, she e-mailed with some concerns, we replied explaining our process. ******* accepted our recommendations and so her dress was wet cleaned as planned.
2. ******* also states that she did not hear from us after our email of May 20th and insinuated that the conversation halted on our side. Our records show two more emails from us where we offered to reprocess her wedding gown at no charge, and in one of them we attached a pre-paid FedEx label to cover shipping costs to us. Our last e-mail was dated on June 6th. We received no reply to this email.
3. *******'s original complaint was that her wedding gown discolored due to our treatment and that it was pressed incorrectly. In regards to this, we can only state that there was nothing in our process that would contribute to a change of color on her dress. And we assert that the dress did not change colors while in our care. Silk fibers have a tendency to yellow with time if not stored properly, but ******* states that the gown was ''darker'' so we are uncertain of the cause. Although we did not feel responsible for the discoloration, we offered to make the changes she desired (which would include whitening her gown through a chemical process - a service that we offer for vintage wedding gowns) at no charge to her. We also offered to re-press the bodice and explained to her that the pleats on the bodice were easy to re-press (the fabric is satin organza which is very manageable)
4. ******* asserts that we misled her into believing we were dry-cleaners, and that we are a fraudulent business. Please be advised that we hold a proper and current business license and we operate under city, state and federal regulation. We belong to the ''dry-cleaner'' industry; we are affiliated with the DLI (Dry-cleaning, Laundry Institute) and most of the time, online searches bundle us as dry-cleaners because it's the closest description to the service we offer, but we do not call ourselves ''dry-cleaners'' nor indicate anywhere on our website that we dry-clean in our facility. Most wedding gowns can safely be cleaned with water. The few dresses (about 5%) that need to be dry-cleaned are personally taken to our close partner and afterward receive additional detailed treatment (spot cleaning, repairs, pressing and preservation) back in our plant. We determined that *******'s dress should be wet-cleaned which we did in our facility, under close supervision. ******* knew and accepted the wet cleaning treatment. There was an open conversation via emails (******* requested no phone calls, which is our preferred way of communication with our costumers) and nothing was hidden from her.
Our side of the story is that we completed the services we were contracted for and more - we hand cleaned, hand pressed and included repairs (a service valued at about $120) free of charge ( ******* did not want to pay for the repairs and we felt bad about sending the gown back to her without the repairs)
We do take great pride in our work, and are very saddened to have an unhappy customer which is why we have bent over backwards to assist her. We have been expecting the return of her wedding gown for several months so that we could whiten her gown and correct the pressing, and, as we said before, have another happy costumer. There were never ''misleading'', ''unethical'' or negligence on our part and we always answered her emails and left the communication open for an agreement.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. We are a small business with a great reputation due to our special service and our customer attention. Our BBB rate is very important to us as well as our reviews (******* posted the same letter in Google). We would love to find a way to solve this situation. Thanks,
***** ****** ******* ****
PS: we do have copies of the e-mail communication between ******* and us. We will prefer not to have to share them since they were between our client and ourselves, but we can share dates and summaries of the information exchanged.
Final Consumer Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
Regarding the company's assertion that they sent a response to us, we never received a response to our May 29th email until Dec 6, which was prompted by our filing of this complaint. They claim they did send a response but we did not receive any.
Since that time we have contacted textile conservators at two museums (Getty and LA County) as well as two conservators who are in private practice. All four indicated that wet cleaning is not recommended for silk due to the danger of shrinkage and the potential for soil redeposition on the gown, which may be the reason why the color has changed. They also indicated that the redeposition problem is consistent with the color change which I described.
Regarding the assertion of fraud, I had called them prior to sending my daughters gown specifically to ask if they did dry-cleaning on site as we had seen online feedback indicating that they send gowns out for dry-cleaning. I was told by their staff "yes we do all cleaning on site'' and that the information on the web was from competitors and not accurate. Interesting that they now confess that they do not do dry-cleaning on site but claim they do not mislead anyone. Here are some links and text from their website which is clearly misleading:
Cleaning Your Dress
We give your gown TLC (tender loving care.) Unlike wholesale drycleaners and many national companies who clean gowns in large quantity (as many as 30 gowns at a time), each gown we treat gets individual care. Most gowns are hand cleaned
while some are spot cleaned or dry-cleaned in virgin solvent.
At Heritage Garment Preservation, we have cleaned silk gowns with every solvent that is available for dry-cleaning. We have used perchloroethylene, Green Earth, and Hydro-carbon (also called DF2000.) We have also wet processed many silk gowns and have found many benefits to this method of cleaning.
Risks of Wet Processing Silk Fabrics
There are some risks in wet process cleaning silk fabrics.
1. Slight shrinkage of the silk. Usually the shrinkage is minimal and usually the fabric stretches back to its original size during pressing.
2. Slight stretching of the silk. This is particularly notable if the fabric is very lightweight, with sizing added for body. Without the sizing the fabric tends to drape more and may give the appearance of stretching.
3. Pressing silk is more difficult after it has been wet-processed. Wet-processing may leave the texture slightly altered, particularly in thinner silk fabrics.
4. Silk satins may not have the same sheen after wet process cleaning.
5. As mentioned earlier in this article, the removal of the sizing changes the weight and ''feel'' of the silk. More sizing may be removed with wet processing than dry-cleaning. However, removing sizing is beneficial for preservation purposes, as sizing can attract mice and insects.
< This is incomplete information on risks after talking with experts !!!>
Hand Cleaned Wedding Gowns
Your wedding gown will be either hand cleaned or hand spotted and then dry-cleaned in virgin solvent. (new solvent or solvent that has been distilled to pure condition). With virgin solvent your wedding gown will be thoroughly cleaned without the contamination of oils and dirt from other wedding gowns. Our hand cleaning process protects delicate fabrics and embellishments from damage caused by machine cleaning. For yellowed wedding gowns, our whitening treatments are done individually and will return your gown to a nice off-white color.
----- End of web site information ---
The fact of the matter is our gown was returned by them damaged and discolored (did not match the fabric swatch we had from hemline trimming). This fabric was not sent to them but was stored with the gown in the same bag before we sent the gown to them. Our expert textile conservator suggests that this is evidence that the color changed during the cleaning process. They do not "feel" responsible for this damage, which just increases our certainty that they are not qualified. It is true that we relied on their recommendation regarding the "wet silk cleaning" process, but only after they assured us that this would not cause any damage or problems. Since they were claiming to be experts we followed their "expert" advice. After further investigations, I have learned that they are self-taught with no formal education on textiles and this shows in the many contradictions they display on their website. Many of which I offer above.
We did indicate that we wanted a full refund of what we paid as they damaged the gown. Which by the way, they never clearly offered us before our reporting them to the BBB and we are still not clear as to when they will agree to that? In addition, we expect that they will remove the misleading information on the web site and not lie to customers who call and ask specifically about on site cleaning. Until these issues are addressed, I can't accept that this is settled.
Final Business Response
We would like to say, once more, how sorry we are that ******* is unhappy with our service. Our primary business objective remains happy customers. We had mentioned in a previous email that we stand behind our warranty – including our money back guarantee. We were under the impression that we were in a dialog with ******* by email discussing this option. Based on that email dialogue, we believed that the dress was first going to be returned for us to fix it. We have attached a screen shot of our last email sent on June 6th. However, if the customer prefers to proceed without that effort, we will gladly honor our money back guarantee. A ''General Release'' letter has just been mailed to ******* which she can sign and return to us. As soon as we receive the signed document, a refund check will be sent for the full amount she paid ($320). This is our standard procedure regarding any money back issues.
Now, we feel that we need to clarify some things said in the original complaint, reviews on Google/TheKnot and the response to our reply. ******* mentions a phone call. Unfortunately, we do not keep records of phone calls so we are not exactly sure what was said. Occasionally some clients ask us if we do all work on site, we answer that we do most cleaning on site and that every wedding gown receives treatment on site. For customers who ask for more detail we factually reply that the majority of wedding dresses are hand cleaned on site, and the few that must be dry cleaned are taken to a trusted local dry-cleaner, and that all dresses are hand spotted here. Each of these is a factual statement of our business practices. Please understand that this practice is directed towards providing the best customized care for each of our customer's wedding gowns. In some ways, we do compete with dry-cleaners by offering a specialized service that they also offer. However, we do not call ourselves dry-cleaners nor advertise as one. We take pride in not being one, actually. In our experience, we find more efficient and better results when you combine treatments. We have an excellent associate drycleaner to assist us with those few gowns that should be dry cleaned under our supervision. But we reserve the spot cleaning, pressing, detailing and preserving to be done in our facility.
******* told us that her dress was discolored after our treatment. We assert again that her dress color was in not altered by our treatment. However we have offered restoration services to her and requested the piece of fabric she mentioned to match the color. We were going to cover the expenses of the restoration process (which is more costly than Clean Only services), included shipping (we sent her the pre-paid label in two of our emails in May). We were waiting to receive the dress.
We have learned several things with this experience and are making changes to our customer service to assure better communication with future clients. As ******* suggested, we made some changes to our website to minimize any risk of possible future misunderstandings. Please see question ''Is all work done at your shop?'' under our ''Wedding Gown Cleaning'' Section on our Frequently Asked Questions website page: http://www.************.com/wedding-gown-preservation-faqs/
We are also planning to follow up more closely if any case like this appears in our future, including phone calls until the matter is resolved.
Now, ******* and/or *******'s daughter used strong words in her complaint and online reviews such as ''fraud and misleading'' Our reputation is very important to us so our customer's use of those words and the negative reviews accusing us of ''ruining a wedding gown'' are particularly upsetting; and given all of the details of this transaction along with the efforts we have put in to remedying the customer's complaints, we feel that the accusations are not fully factual. We would greatly appreciate it if ******* would remove the negative reviews.
While we respect textile conservator's opinions, we are very confident that the cleaning industry has more hands-on experience with the actual cleaning of silk fabrics. We have been in business since 2000 and have cleaned thousands of wedding gowns and gained tremendous and valuable experience. Further, we take courses through the California Cleaners Association and the DLI (Dry-cleaning and Laundry Institute) on wet cleaning, textiles, chemicals, and advanced bleaching techniques. Please note that these courses are not required by law, and in fact dry-cleaners are not required to have formal training to be in business. However, we have taken these courses because of our desire for excellence. We occasionally receive dresses that have been dry-cleaned previously and the customer is not satisfied and desires a more detailed cleaning. 13 years in this business gives us the experience necessary to call ourselves ''experts''.
If ******* has an interest, the DLI offers a service known as a textile analysis. The DLI can scientifically determine the cause of the discoloration. We will pay for all costs for this service as we remain fully confident that our wet cleaning did not cause the discoloration of the gown. Let us know if you wish to proceed with this neutral test.
We have proved our good will and desire to serve ******* and her daughter. We have responded to every email, complaint, accusation and we will reimburse her the cost of the service. We hope we receive the same courtesy from ******* by revising her posting, since we have complied with all of her requests.
Hopefully, we hear from you soon. Thanks.
***** ****** ******* ****
I was on vacation due to the holidays and this case should not be closed. I am only today reading the businesses response and I will follow up on this within the next tow days if not sooner.
The situation with Heritage is not resolved. They have not addressed the main complaints we have:
1) Misleading information on their web site. Their web site continues to display misleading information to consumers that imply they do all work on their site. They claim to be experts because they have been in business for many years. It is laughable that they claim such expertise while they send gowns out to others to clean. This is truly arrogance at its height. Textile conservators whom we have contacted regarding this are insulted by their claim that their years in business in any way replace training, research and use of scientific methods.
I have received many responses to my posts on this problem from brides who agree that the Heritage site is misleading. Even former Heritage customers have contacted me to convey their concern that their gown was sent off site without their knowledge.
2) Their satisfaction guarantee - we did receive a letter from Heritage, which our lawyer is reviewing. The refund of money from Heritage appears to be contingent on our stipulating that they did not cause any problems and a lot of talk about terms that only a lawyer would understand. Form what we gather this letter has us agreeing to release them forever from any liability.
F First, if the gag portion is accurate then we can not sign it as I am already in discussion with the District Attorney about the misleading content on their site, and information they continue to convey verbally over the phone. Second, we would never agree to state that they did not cause the problem that they clearly did cause. Third, I guess the satisfaction guarantee is yet another example of the misleading information we are concerned about in point 1.
We will not be satisfied that Heritage has remedied the situation until the following has been demonstrated;
a) They take full responsibility for the damage they caused and refund the monies we spent with them with no string attached.
b) They remove the misleading information from their web site, and ''train'' their staff on how to properly respond to questions regarding what they do and don't do.
On a side note we have contacted the Wall Street Journal regarding the award to Heritage for best ''presentation'' (which itself is potentially misleading to brides who might mistake presentation for preservation). The WSJ indicated that they were not aware that Heritage did not perform all the cleaning on site, and they would not have been awarded this had WSJ known this to be the case. Clearly their site is misleading if trained journalists cannot determine that they send the dry cleaning out to others.
Heritage refuses to acknowledge that they are misleading the public, yet in conversations with the District Attorney and the Wall Street Journal we have been told that they do feel the information is misleading.
We will not agree to state that Heritage did not cause damage to my daughter's gown, nor will we agree to cease educating the consumer regarding their business practices, since Heritage is doing their best to mislead the public.
Further, I feel that the BBB hasn't done much to help resolve this matter for us. It appears that nothing more than a back and forth exchange has been happening between the business and myself. At what point does the BBB decide that this matter can't be resolved? If Heritage isn't wiling to remedy the issues I outlined above then I would consider this issue unresolved. I travel for my job and I can't keep this back and forth going on much longer given the short times allowed for responce. I feel I have been clear as to what I expect and that hasn't changed from day one. If the BBB isn't able to encourage Heritage to meet my request then I feel this matter will go unresolved. I'd rather come to a decision one way or another. Simply going back and forth is nothing more than a waste of time for everyone.