Money Wise--The Dirt on Dry Cleaning - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/10/03

Money Wise--The Dirt on Dry Cleaning

Hundreds of thousands of people get their clothes dry cleaned every day, and unless you've got the most simple garment, it can cost you. But some of us are paying more than others. It happens every day. Some dry cleaning customers call it a rip-off, but almost every dry cleaner says it's perfectly okay to charge a woman more than a man.

Dry cleaners all over the world bring in hundreds of dollars each day, and it's no different in the Coastal Empire. One of the most popular in Savannah is Curry Dry Cleaners. It first opened in 1944 and when the original owner retired, his son took over.

"It's all I know," Herbert Curry told us. "It's the only job I've ever had."

But there's something interesting about this business you may not know. It costs more to have one of two similar shirts dry cleaned than it does the other. They're made of the same material. The only difference is, one belongs to a man, the other to a woman. The price difference is about $2. So, we hit the streets of Savannah to see what residents thought about this dollar discrepancy.

Delane Cannon of Savannah told us, "I think it's a rip off."

"It's unfair," said Pamela Meserv from Boston. "Why should women pay more than men?"

The reason for the price difference has nothing to do with a woman being a woman, and everything to do with the size of her shirt, Curry explains. "It's just the way the equipment is designed," he said. "And a lady's short is just too small to go on a shirt unit."

A man's shirt has no pleats, and most of the time fits on this machine in a way it can be pulled and flattened with no wrinkles. Because they're usually smaller, a woman's shirt has to be pressed and maneuvered by hand in another machine, because it won't fit properly on the shirt unit.

"It takes a lot longer," said Curry. "It probably takes four or five times longer to do a lady's shirt than it does a man's shirt."

And when that happens, time and money become an issue, which is why, when it comes to dry cleaned shirts women will most often pay more than men.

And keep this is mind: it's not just Curry dry cleaners, so we don't want to single them out. It's most every other dry cleaner too, and they say it's because of the equipment. But, we did run into one woman who noticed the big cost difference. She threatened to take her business elsewhere and the dry cleaner, which she asked us not to name, started cleaning her shirts for the price of a man's. We also learned that if a shirt is too big, that's reason enough for extra charges as well.

If you have money questions you'd like answered in Money Wise, email moneywise@wtoc.com.

Reported by: Dmitra Denmark, bdenmark@wtoc.com

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