For dry cleaners, the problem of customers leaving unclaimed garments with them is a common one. The law governing these types of issues varies from state to state. In some regions, the dry cleaner can donate any unclaimed garments to charity after set time. In other areas, the dry cleaner can sell the items after attempting to contact the customer to arrange for the items to be picked up and paid for.
In many cases, the dry cleaners don't ask for payment in advance, so customers who do not return to claim items create problems. For one, the clothing piles up, claiming storage space. Moreover, if a number of customers don't return to pick up their clothing items, it can create cash flow difficulties for the business owner. Fixed expenses like rent, electricity, supplies and wages must be paid whether customers pay promptly for services rendered or not.
Dry cleaners in Massachusetts must keep unclaimed garments for 90 days after the cleaning or repair services have been performed before they can dispose of the items. The dry cleaner is required to warn the customer before taking action. If the items still are not picked up, the dry cleaner can donate them to charity, sell them directly, auction them off or dispose of them in any other manner he chooses.
New York Law
In New York State, a 2009 law allows dry cleaners who have unclaimed garments on the premises to dispose of these items after six months. The dry cleaner can sell the clothing or donate it to a charity.
Dry cleaning businesses operating in Ohio may dispose of unclaimed garments 120 days after the cleaning, alteration or repair work has been completed. The Ohio Uniform Commercial Code requires the dry cleaner to notify the owner of the garment of the date and time when the items will be offered for sale. If the items remain unclaimed for 180 days or more, the dry cleaner has the right to sell or give them away without notice.
A customer can avoid having her clothing sold or given away by keeping track of where the items were dropped off and the date they will be ready for pick up. A wall calendar, diary or computer program may be used for this purpose.