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Sharing my experience with a uniform vendor


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This is a rant, pure and simple, but I hope that it can serve as a cautionary tale for others.  Unifirst came in with a proposal as the "AAA preferred uniform vendor".  As we are a AAA approved shop we qualified for special pricing, almost 30% less than what we were paying at that time.  We gave them our business and it has been a cluster since.  It took almost 6 months for them to deliver, and when they did the sizes were all over the map.  About half of my employees (and myself) had to have size changes.  They embroidered all our dark shirts with dark logos and had to re-do them which took months.  They actually embroidered them wrong TWICE before they got it right.  My tech's shirts came back with with huge oil and rust stains after their first washing and have never been clean since.  The towels are usually oily and sometimes have metal shavings in them.  They routinely mis-deliver and fail to deliver uniforms, leaving techs short for the week.  I've had the service manager, plant manager, and regional manager all in my office to tell me that this would all be corrected, to no avail.  We have a new service starting in December and I anticipate threats to sue on the three year agreement they require.  I've been cataloging, photographing and corresponding with them over the past 8 months and I am confident that we can prove that they are unable to provide anything close to the level of service they promised.  I have learned, yet again, that you get what you pay for.  Don't let Unifirst in the door.

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I'm to the point that I almost refuse to sign contracts (unless I don't have much of a choice). We don't ask customers to sign a contract with us, it's up to us to earn and keep their business. In fact, some of the best companies I work with do month to month because they know their product/service is top notch. Usually the ones I sign a contract with are the ones I regret doing business with

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I finally just bought a scratch and dent washer and drier and our own uniforms. $500 a month for 3 people and rags with holes in them that leave an oily film on your hands that ends up on the customers steering wheel is just ridiculous. You can buy new rags from amazon and use them once for about the same amount Cintas was charging for their junk that smelled like it was washed in sewage. Uniform companies are down there on the integrity list next to credit card processing. A driver even told me how they have meetings telling them how to nickle and dime the customer. 

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1 hour ago, Old and Tired said:

I finally just bought a scratch and dent washer and drier and our own uniforms. $500 a month for 3 people and rags with holes in them that leave an oily film on your hands that ends up on the customers steering wheel is just ridiculous. You can buy new rags from amazon and use them once for about the same amount Cintas was charging for their junk that smelled like it was washed in sewage. Uniform companies are down there on the integrity list next to credit card processing. A driver even told me how they have meetings telling them how to nickle and dime the customer. 

We are a small shop. We provide Tee Shirts and Sweat shirts and the employees provide their own shorts and pants and clean them at home. I have had a washer an dryer for years to wash various items around the shop. You can pick them up pretty cheap on Craigslist. We washed our own rags for many years. About a year ago I realized it was considerably cheaper to purchase new rags and throw them away when you are done. I hate being wasteful, but I'm not sure how much different the environmental impact of disposing new over cleaning dirty rags is. Last time I purchased rags on eBay they cost me 11.5 cents each. I calculate with a service, including a portion of the delivery charge, environmental fee, and taxes, it was a little over 20 cents a rag. Washing them yourself is about the same since you need to use a strong cleaner and was them about 3 times. Also, I too have found with laundered rags, they tend to still be a bit oily and have debris like metal shavings in them.

Scott  

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Uniform companies suck! I have used 2 major company's rip my lips off. Poor service, constant rate increases etc.. 3 year contracts, iron clad in their favor. 

I finally just bought all of my employees uniforms and rags. I give the employees their uniforms and they are responsible for washing them. Zero problems. Everybody shows up dressed for work in clean cloths. I throw the rags away when they are done. I cut my uniform costs by 60-70%.

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I'd highly recommend looking into Wypall 41055 X80. I buy them off amazon and they last a long time. You can use them quite a while before trashing them. A roll last my 2 guys about 6 months. No lint, no metal, no streaks. The roll is always in the same place so they can find em.

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I agree with most of the sentiments here. Over the years i have used cintas, arrow, and now arrow has been bought by unifirst. I had very few problems with arrow, but since the buy out, it has been horrible. They do nickel and dime, my rates were changing every week, and the environmental and Replacement fees were sometimes 30% of the bill. I now have to audit the bill every week, and waste my time to make sure they are being honest.  I believe that all uniform companies do suck, and i am highly considering just buying my own uniforms for the techs.

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Thank-you all so much for this thread.  I just switched vendors as well and am finding the new company (Continental) to be no better than the old one (Cintas). I never thought of just buying rags - I have been paying A LOT for the white, virgin ones so I didn't have to deal with metal shavings.  Now you all have me thinking of buying uniforms at the end of this contract as well!

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I remember a tech telling me a story about their uniform having a problem with a uniform shirt (ie: a button fell off or whatever). The procedure is to tie the shirt in a knot and that tells them to repair the shirt. He did that a couple of times and it still didn't get repaired. Finally he tore the shirt in half and sent it in. Haha. 

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I am with Aramark and I am very pleased. When I signed on I went through the contract and modified the part where they can increase rates. The manager looked at it and said ok as long as he could raise his rate if I raised mine. We agreed and so my rated are locked and only go up if I raise my labor rate. Service is ok, and driver is responsive toy issues. 

 

Keep in mind you can modify contracts. Sometimes companies are ok with it, others will say no or give up.  I always try.

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9 hours ago, Hands On said:

I am with Aramark and I am very pleased. When I signed on I went through the contract and modified the part where they can increase rates. The manager looked at it and said ok as long as he could raise his rate if I raised mine. We agreed and so my rated are locked and only go up if I raise my labor rate. Service is ok, and driver is responsive toy issues. 

 

Keep in mind you can modify contracts. Sometimes companies are ok with it, others will say no or give up.  I always try.

That's awesome they let you do that. FYI, many of these contracts have a 'no strike through' clause in them, so make sure to keep an eye out for that. If it says that, you can mark the contract up all you want, but means nothing.

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I just fired Unifirst after only a year into my lengthy contract.

I'm tired of the uniform game. I bought my guys Red Kap uniforms from an online supplier, and had a local embroidery shop put logos and names on them. Most of the guys were washing their own uniforms anyway, but for the few that weren't I bought a washer and dryer for the shop. It cost me a few grand, but I'll save that and more in the next 6 months. I also never have to worry about my guys complaining about their shirts never coming back from the uniform company. Time will tell how it all works out, but so far so good.

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On 11/28/2017 at 7:54 AM, mmotley said:

That's awesome they let you do that. FYI, many of these contracts have a 'no strike through' clause in them, so make sure to keep an eye out for that. If it says that, you can mark the contract up all you want, but means nothing.

You could just cross out the strike through clause. As long as a manager initials at the point of cross out and signes the contract that way, a judge would up hold it if it came to it.  No collection agency in their right mind would buy your account  after that. Of course they may just say no, in which case you can say no also.

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On 12/4/2017 at 1:36 PM, Hands On said:

You could just cross out the strike through clause. As long as a manager initials at the point of cross out and signes the contract that way, a judge would up hold it if it came to it.  No collection agency in their right mind would buy your account  after that. Of course they may just say no, in which case you can say no also.

Seems more trouble than it's worth to me. Sure, you would probably win in a small claims court, but I've got better things to do than to file paperwork and make my way to the court. 

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4 minutes ago, mmotley said:

Seems more trouble than it's worth to me. Sure, you would probably win in a small claims court, but I've got better things to do than to file paperwork and make my way to the court. 

Exactly why I doubt the opposing company would take it to that measure.

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  • 4 months later...

I refuse to sign auto renew contracts and strike out that part and have vendor initial it. Self renew is bad enough but they usually even make non renewing almost impossible.  Example of typical 3-5 year contract - " notice to not renew contract must be received no more than 7 months and no less that 6 months of renewal date by cerified mail and be in our mailbox on the same day as a full moon" . LOL. Very difficult to meet their terms. My current uniform company screwed up on the pricing then refused to honor it AND would not let us walk away from it because there was a "clerical error" clause in the contract. At the end of the day we ended up with less sevice for the same price we were paying before. As a very specialized shop I'm just waiting for the day they need my services. 

 

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We have Aramark. I tried to fire them when unifies was trying to win my business. They threatened to sue me for $7800 in damages for the 2.5yrs left on an auto renew contract. They are blood sucking thieves. I’m 13 months from done now and will never hire another company that wants any sort of contract. If they want my business they can try to earn it and keep it by doing a good job. We bought our building and don’t have to answer to anyone except the state. Good riddance to these shady uniform companies. They are all horrible.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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  • 4 months later...
  • 1 month later...

We too used to have Arrow - good customer service and support - but as we all know they got bought out by Unifirst.   Being in business a while I always modify the uniform contracts, with Arrow it was no problem., regarding the term and renewals.  Unifirst assumed my Arrow contract.  My Outlook is set up to remind me to send a non renewal letter in time to renegotiate the contract. 

With the AAA program their pricing is very good - but with all the hassles, Unifirst has been a struggle to work with.  From a new driver every other week to wrong size uniforms, etc. 

We have another company that does not have contracts that quoted us that I will be switching to when our term with Unifirst expires. 

.   

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I went with a local small operation that gives us great service.  I was able to fire the national chain with no problem by making notations on their invoices when they didn’t deliver as promised.  When they threatened to sue I pointed out the unaddressed issues that were noted.  Never heard from them again.

Edited by Bob Dowie
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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
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