When I received Next’s reply to my letter, I was encouraged by the company’s attitude. It clearly has the best of intentions and wants to resolve the matter and to reassure drycleaners of

its commitment to testing products and to investigating complaints thoroughly.

Nevertheless, it misses the point, namely that the problem is only revealed after a curtain has been hung for sometime in a position where the lining is exposed to strong daylight/sunlight and that the pattern of damage to the lining will coincide with the pattern of that exposure. Parts of the curtain that have hung against a wall may not be affected.

LCN will be pursuing the correspondence further, in attempt

to clarify the exact nature of this particular problem. However,

I believe that Next’s current response illustrates the difficulties that the various parts of the textile care industries have in communicating with each other and with their customers.

When problems occur, explanations must be completely clear, as must any requests for action. This is not easy, especially as such explanations are often given when both parties are under stress.

The difficulties may lie in tone and in language.

We need to be clear about our grievance without sounding adversarial. We must be able to ask for action clearly and reasonably. We may also need to be realistic in our demands.

Above all, both sides need to be ready to listen to what the other is saying and try to understand their viewpoint, without necessarily accepting it.

We may also need to be persistant, provide further explanation if necessary, or perhaps try a different type of approach – for example by letter, if a complaint in person has not worked.

With regard to Next, I believe that given the company’s responsible attitude, it should be possible to reach a satisfactory solution and I will try to follow my own advice in doing so.

If we succeed, I believe that Next will not only have helped itself, LCN and its readers, but the industry as a whole.

Thanks to the readers who have already contacted me about their experiences with these curtains, thus helping to illustrate the nature of the problem.