It turns out the “pink tax” applies to dry cleaning, too
Being a woman is expensive.
Along with all the things we spend money on that most men simply don’t — bras, tampons, etc. — when it comes to the things all people buy, women are consistently charged more than men, no matter the product. Last month, a study released by the New York Department of Consumer Affairs concluded women pay an average of 7% more than men for the same goods. And now, according to a recent experiment by CBS, this “pink tax” officially applies to dry cleaning, too.
After December’s report, CBS News decided to send two undercover reporters — one male and one female — to a few dry cleaners in the city. Both brought “nearly-identical, 100 percent cotton button down shirts in comparable sizes” to the cleaners, then asked for the same service. One would think the two would get charged about the same, but instead, the female producer was charged more than twice as much as her male counterpart at over half of the businesses they visited.
In one establishment, she was charged $7.50 for getting the shirt cleaned while her male counterpart was charged a mere $2.85. At another, she was charged $3 more than him.
According to one of the dry cleaners, there’s a logical reason for the discrepancy: “Having a shirt laundered and machine pressed does not exist for women’s tops.” As a result, the shirts just don’t fit the machines. Of course, it’s a flimsy excuse — and not exactly the most convincing one — but as a result, women will almost always end up paying more for dry cleaning than men. And while “gender price gouging” is illegal in certain states (New York included), there are currently no laws in place that prevent this type of discrimination for retail.
“One of the reasons that we can’t legislate in products is because it’s about the market and there is a long supply chain and we don’t really know who is responsible for it,” trade lawyer Michael Cone told CBS. “It has to be a market response, a written campaign, vote with your purse and your pen — that’s what’s going to change it.”
Until then, I guess we’ll just have to hand wash our dry clean only clothes at home.
(Image via Justin Sullivan/Getty)