IT’S EVERY bride’s worst nightmare.
Forty minutes before Katharine Armstrong was due to say “I do”, her wedding day was thrown into panic when the zip on her dream dress broke.
Luckily a needle-handy beautician was able to save the day, by stitching a huge bow to the back of her torn dress.
The Brighouse teacher then faced an eight-month legal fight through the small claims court to recover the £525 cost of her damaged designer gown from Rawthorpe shop Bows and Bells.
Now, with her first wedding anniversary approaching, Katharine is warning other brides-to-be about her devastating experience.
The 29-year-old said: “I just feel really let down. This was the biggest day of my life. The way I was treated afterwards was like I was nothing. I was just this annoyance, like a wasp in an office.
“I would have been happy with them sewing it and giving it me back, but this was about customer service and how they made me feel.
“I was just fobbed off.”
Katharine spent more than £800 at Bows and Bells, on Bradley Mills Road, buying her Mori Lee dress, veil, tiara and paying for alterations.
But as she carefully stepped into her dress to marry husband Johnny on July 29 last year, there was a loud rip.
She said: “As I leaned forward to lift my dress up so my mum could put the hoop under, there was this rip. I remember saying it was probably the zip going into place.
“But when my mum looked, she couldn’t speak to me. Two inches from the top of the dress the zip had actually come away from the dress fabric.
“I was just frozen and everyone else around me was crying. I actually thought my wedding day was over before it had begun.
“It was awful.”
Luckily, Crosland Moor beautician Jill Yvette – who had done Katharine’s make-up – was still at the house and was able to create a huge bow using fabric from her matching shawl to cover the back of her dress.
Katharine said: “My friends and family reassured me it looked fine so I just had to trust them. Everyone thought it was just part of the dress and it didn’t spoil the day in the end.”
But after returning from their honeymoon in Egypt, Katharine grew increasingly more dissatisfied with the shop’s unhelpful response.
After numerous phone calls to the shop, taking the dress back for them to investigate and writing two letters, Katharine eventually received a reply in November offering her a goodwill gesture of £50.
“I just felt they were money making,” she said. “They were so good at selling me the dress but the quality of that zip was disgraceful. I’ve seen better on a children’s handbag.
“I sent another legal letter saying it wasn’t good enough but they didn’t respond.”
Then, in February 2012, Katharine decided to file a claim though the small claims court.
The shop again failed to respond to a letter from the court, so in March this year, Bows and Bells was ordered to pay Katharine £595 to include £70 court costs.
Bows and Bells managing director Pauline Hawkes said: “We apologised straightaway and felt desperate about it.
“We rang three different people and were told we were not liable because the dress went out in immaculate condition.
“We offered her £50 as a good will gesture, but she didn’t want to accept that.
“We don’t have a policy because we don’t usually have any problems.”