Tell your dry cleaner to remove their glued on or heat sealed barcodes
By: Stu Bloom
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The growing use of barcodes
Many dry cleaners glue or heat seal barcodes on your fine garments and household textiles.
In the case of garments, they typically seal the barcode:
- on the front or rear of the brand label,
- on the front or rear of the care label,
- on an inside side seam of a blouse or shirt,
- on the inside of a hem,
- on the underside of a collar,
- on the inside of a waist band,
- on the inside of a pocket,
- on the underside of the pocket flap of a jacket,
- on the inside of the front placket of blouse or shirt,
- on the inside of the fly flap of a trouser, slacks or shorts, etc.
We recently saw a barcode heat sealed directly onto the fabric on the inside of the collar of a Chanel jacket!
We’ve even seen garments with at least 5 barcodes belonging to different cleaners glued on or heat sealed in different places on the same garment!
This increasingly common practice prompted a recent discussion on warriortalk.com. One individual commented as follows:
I’d take issue with this practice, personally, and make them remove the labels immediately. The clothes are mine, and if I pay someone to clean them, they are only to clean them – not modify them in any way I don’t request or at least pre-approve. If I take my car to a mechanic, he’d better not put on a bumper sticker without my approval; same principle.
And this from a discussion on styleforum.net
That pissed me off so badly. Last time I got my pants back from the dry cleaners they all had those super sticky bar codes applied to them. I refuse to use that dry cleaner in the future. Just hope they are not all starting to do this.
We’ll said. Couldn’t agree with you more.
If your dry cleaner glues or heat seals barcodes onto your fine garments and household textiles, make them to remove those barcodes. Suggestion: Do not take no for an answer. @ravefabricare
The real reasons dry cleaner use barcodes
When you ask dry cleaners why they glue or heat seal barcodes on your fine garments and household textiles, they’ll tell you that they do so in order to “track your items through their production system”.
That’s the pronounced reason or spin. The real reasons are different.
Value (discount), ordinary(middle market) and wannabe (illusion) dry cleaners use barcodes for 2 primary reasons:
- Barcodes aid in the automated distribution and assembly of garments.
- Barcodes aid in tracking piece counts in the cleaning and pressing departments.
A RAVE FabriCARE Position Paper, titled Dry Cleaner Barcodes On Fine Garments: Hop On The Roller Coaster, explores this issue in greater detail.
In that Position Paper, we submit that a true quality cleaner would never heat seal or glue barcode labels anywhere on your fine garments and household textiles.
- Because they’re not ours
- Because we’re not a discount, ordinary or wannabe dry cleaner
Barcode labels are typically used by high volume/low price, highly automated value, ordinary or wannabe dry cleaners where the operational focus is on getting your garments into a machine, onto a press and into a bag. ASAP. At lowest possible cost. They’re in by 9:00 and out by 5:00; or picked up on day 1 and delivered on day 3.
- Because we move and assemble by hand
A true quality cleaner moves and assembles your fine garments and household textiles by hand. Not by an automated machine that relies on reading the barcodes as a basis for moving and assembling your garments and household textiles.
- Because we don’t pay employees based on the number of pieces they “produce” per hour
A true quality cleaner does not pay their skilled cleaners and hand ironers based on the number of garments (or pieces) a employee can push out in a one hour period.
If you meet the standard (say 37 trouser/slacks per hour), you’re hailed as a hero. If not, you’re replaced.
If management focuses on and pays for pieces per hour, they’ll get quantity; if management focuses on and pays for quality (irrespective of the number of pieces per hour), they’ll get quality (provided their cleaners and hand ironers are skilled craftspeople in the first place).
The key to making this work is to ensure that cleaners and pressers scan the barcode of every time they handle a garment.
What should you do?
So the critical question is this: What should you do if you discovered that your dry cleaner glued or heat sealed a barcode onto any of your garments or household textiles?
The overwhelming majority of dry cleaning customers probably couldn’t care less. All they want is a “cleaned and pressed” garment or household textile at the cheapest possible price.
Other customers — particularly those with a large investment in their fine garments and household textiles — may frown upon this practice. For those individuals, what are your options?
I’d suggest the following course of action:
If you’re a retail store customer…
- Ask you dry cleaner if they barcode your garments and household textiles.
- Examine your garments and household textiles for any signs of barcodes before you leave their facility.
- If you find any barcodes, insist that they remove the barcodes (without damaging the items) before you leave their facility.
- If they tell you that no one’s available at that time to remove the barcodes, tell them to call you as soon as the job’s been completed.
- If they tell you that they’re unable to remove the barcodes, tell them that you’ll find a fabricare specialist with the skills to remove the barcodes and that you’ll be presenting them with the bill for reimbursement.
If you’re a pick up and delivery customer…
- Examine your garments and household textiles for any signs of barcodes upon delivery.
- If you find any barcodes, contact the dry cleaner, request that they pick up the items and tell them to remove those barcodes (without damaging the items).
- If they tell you that they’re unable to remove the barcodes, tell them that you’ll find a dry cleaning specialist with the skills to remove the barcodes and that you’ll be presenting them with the bill for reimbursement.
RAVE FabriCARE removes barcodes
If you’re unable to find a dry cleaning specialist with the skills to safely remove these barcodes (the barcode label and the underlying glue), you might want to consider RAVE FabriCARE. We ship nationwide.
We charge $10.00 to remove a barcode plus our regular cleaning price.
Please note that the removal of barcodes involves the use of certain chemical agents. Accordingly, we cannot honor any request to remove a barcode without re-cleaning the entire garment or household textile. This way the residue of the chemical agents is removed without fear of a chemical reaction between the dyes/pigments in the fabric and the chemical agents in the future.
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