5 On Your Side

$15,000 dry clean bill stuns Garner woman

Posted September 28, 2015

More than $15,000 for a dry cleaning bill?

Yolanda Sinclair admits she didn't know how much it would cost to clean and air out her clothes and linens after her Garner home was struck by lightning and caught fire.

Her insurance agent contacted CRDN, Certified Restoration Drycleaning Network, a division of Brothers Cleaners. Representatives arrived a couple days after to remove her things. Without fully understanding their contract, Sinclair signed it.

She expected the company would send an estimate. Instead, CRDN billed her insurance company for $15,720.

"In my mind, I was only thinking it was going to be about $3,000 to $4,000 dollars," Sinclair said. "They could have gave me $5,000 or $6,000, and I could have bought everything in my house brand new."

After all, Sinclair lived alone in the two-bedroom home.

The CRDN contract does not mention providing an estimate, Sinclair's insurer, State Farm, sent the company an email saying "We previously requested all policyholders receive an estimate."

Sinclair said she never had the chance to decide which items would be cleaned and which simply thrown away.

CRDN charged more than $12 to clean a pair of 9-year-old flip flops, $40 to clean an old cap and gown, almost $18 each for shower curtains. THe company cleaned 46 tote bags, including reusable grocery bags, at a cost of $12 each.

"If they had given me an estimate, I would have told them don't do anything," she said.

Asked about the lack of an estimate and whether they consider the cost effectiveness of cleaning vs. replacing, Bob Hilker, owner of CRDN provided 5 On Your Side with a statement saying, CRDN is "a restoration company"... "not insurance claim consultants."

State Farm provided agent Chad Richards to talk about the claims process, even though he wasn't involved in Sinclair's case. 5 On Your Side asked him about cleaning items of little value.

"It 100 percent seems like a waste of money," he said. Adding, "I don't see things cleaned most of the time."

He advises homeowners to take it slow in deciding what to do after a disaster like Sinclair's fire.

"You have time," he said. "You have time on your claim. There is no reason you should ever have to feel rushed."

Sinclair wishes she hadn't rushed even though State Farm gave her a check to cover the $15,000 cleaning cost.

"It is very overwhelming, the whole process," she said.

State Farm initially told Sinclair the dispute was between her and CRDN. After 5 On Your Side got involved, the insurer decided to investigate the claim. So far, Sinclair has not paid Brothers.

"Although the insurance company is paying for it, that's not right. I still have to stand by what is right," she said.


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  • WesleyAdam Vanasek Sep 29, 2015
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    Wow! That's outrageous!

  • Marcy Lyn Sep 29, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    I agree, State Farm Insured folk, watch your increased premiums.

  • Lewis Smeltzer Sep 29, 2015
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    Nice to know what cleaners I will never use - no Brothers for me.

  • Real Libertine Sep 29, 2015
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    This is a microcosm of exactly how the mortgage crisis happened: a confluence of the ignorant and the greedy. And the rest of us get stuck with paying the bill.

  • Mary Jones Sep 29, 2015
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    Sadly, the services have already been provided. I believe it was a lesson learned if this happens again. The honest thing to do would be for Ms. Sinclair to just pay the company and take a hard learned lesson.

  • John Tavolacci Sep 29, 2015
    user avatar

    State Farm is part of the blame... after all its State Farm Policyholders who are paying this bill.. Mrs Sinclair has no right to this money... State Farm should have advised Mrs. Sinclair that she has an option to either clean the damage goods or have them replaced... Brothers Cleaners tried to take her literary "To The Cleaners" Bottom line State Farm Policyholders should be concerned that their Insurance company would pay a claim like this. Just think how much lower everyone's premium would be if State Farm was more efficient in running their business...

  • Brian White Sep 29, 2015
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    "Rule followers are the ones that never go anywhere in life."

    Going nowhere is a lot better than going to prison for fraud.

  • Marcy Lyn Sep 29, 2015
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    Her insurance agent contacted CRDN, Certified Restoration Drycleaning Network, a division of Brothers Cleaners

    Her insurance company contacted them, I am sure she felt secure in who her insurance company sent.

    However, if her insurance company paid, forward the check.

    Just be gland you had insurance.

    Company doing the cleaning sound like crooks, taking advantage of the situation.

  • Trey Waters Sep 29, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    Why? I'd probably love to live next door, because he probably has a very nice house running this type of business! :-)

  • Erica Konopka Sep 29, 2015
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    Seems to me, this article should be about Ms. Sinclair stealing services and embezzling money from State Farm, rather than the business practices of the restoration company.

    "We delivered a schedule of charges to Ms. Sinclair on July 21.  Charges were based on prevailing and customary rates.   Ms. Sinclair first objected to the amount charged on August 17‐ after all work she requested had been
    complete and after receiving 1/3 of her treated belongings in July. 
       In connection with her billing question, we learned that Ms. Sinclair had received full payment for our services from her insurance carrier that included CRDN as a payee.  However, [b]we also learned that Ms. Sinclair requested, and was provided, a replacement check that was payable to her and her alone.     
    Ms. Sinclair now enjoys possession of roughly $15,000‐ representing the charges associated with our
    service ‐ and 1/3  of her treated belongings.   CRDN has received nothing.