DENVER - We've all heard horror stories of dry cleaners destroying garments. But honestly, how many of us stand there and inspect each item before you take it home?
You may do that after hearing Tiffanie Montgomery's story.
"I was shocked. I was in disbelief," Montgomery said.
When she got her dress home from Continental Cleaners on Leetsdale, she said she couldn't believe what she saw.
"At the bottom of the dress it looks as if something got stuck, [or it got] caught in something," Montgomery said, holding the pink, flowered gown in her hand. "And they ripped it out. And instead of saying, 'You know I'm sorry, this is what happened,' they stuck it in a bag."
She said as soon as she saw it she contacted the owner, who said he is no longer responsible for the garment after it leaves the store.
Duane Davis, the owner of Continental Cleaners, would not talk on camera. However, off-camera, he said, "I'm not responsible once it leaves the store. Let a judge decide."
"I don't think that they [Continental Cleaners] intentionally meant to ruin the dress," Montgomery said. "And it's not about the dress. It's about the response that I got from the owner himself."
The Better Business Bureau said it has received other complaints about this business.
Continental Cleaners did not respond to those complaints, which is why spokeswoman Megan Herrera said the company has an F rating.
According to Herrera, situations like these are tricky.
"It's a little tough because it wasn't noticed at the time of pick up," Herrera said.
"The dry cleaner can say, 'Well, you know, how do I know the dress didn't get ripped somewhere along the line of taking it home, or bringing it back in the house?' or something like that."
Herrera recommends checking garments thoroughly before you leave the store. But, most people just don't feel they have the time to do that.
"You really should, because things like this can happen," Herrera said. "A lot of times there are honest accidents - and the best way to catch them and resolve them is to take that five minutes, at the most - and just check everything. Look at it closely."
"Make sure that there is no damage at that time," Herrera said. "Even if there is [damage] at that time, it still can be kind of difficult to determine who is at fault."
When fault-finding is difficult, the consumer can still file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, in an effort to find resolution.
"This is a way to keep it out of court," Herrera said. "This is a way to bring in a neutral third party, like the Better Business Bureau, and help get the issue resolved in a reasonable manner."
That complaint will go on that company's file and anyone who visits the BBBs website will be able to see the complaint. In an effort to increase transparency, the BBB recently started publishing complaints online.
That offers some consolation to Montgomery, who plans to file a complaint. She says she isn't trying to recover the $183 she paid for the dress she bought on sale at Macy's. She simply wants to make a difference and hopes telling her story will save others time and money.
"I do not want this to happen to anyone else," Montgomery said. "It's frustrating."
Here are 5 tips from the BBB on how to avoid finding yourself in Montgomery's situation:
1. Use a dry cleaner that upholds standards of ethical business practices. Find cleaners that are accredited with the Better Business Bureau. Visit the BBB's website, denver.bbb.org, or call 303-758-2100 for a list in your area.
2. Always check your garments for damage or insufficient service before paying - and especially before leaving. Determining responsibility for damage is difficult if discovered after it has left the business.
3. Make sure care labels are permanently attached to your garments and the instructions are properly followed by you and your dry cleaner.?
4. Know that older garments are more vulnerable to damage and some stains are impossible to remove. Research details with the International Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (dlionline.org).
5. Take note of any warnings posted by cleaners that dismiss responsibility of damage or other issues.
It's important to also note that there are several Continental Cleaners locations in the metro area - and they are individually owned. To find information on your location - or any other dry cleaning company, visit the Better Business Bureau's website.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)