Washing Your Clothes Now Involves Complicated Flow Chart, Credit Cards

Darren’s New York City apartment building just got a new set of laundry machines. Which is all well and good, but the instructions that come with said equipment? Let’s just say the “3 Easy Steps” touted on the in-depth flow-chart appear to be neither three in number, nor easy. Whatever happened to sticking some quarters in a machine and popping your whites and darks in?

As he writes, “These instructions for our building’s new laundry machines (‘3 easy steps’) make LA parking signs look comprehensible.”

Not only are there three steps divided into multiple bullet points and in the case of step 2, an A and a B section, but if you want to scrub your duds, you need to have a Visa, Mastercard or American Express, access to the Internet or be willing to call an automated operator or in-person operator.

The people in the pictures look quite happy to be going through such a rigamarole, even the girl who appears to be 13 and has her credit card ready to go during a chat with the automated phone operator.

After all is said and done, then you get to do the fun task of actually washing and folding your laundry. I’m exhausted just reading up on how to prepare to do laundry. Good luck, Darren!



Edit Your Comment

  1. sherrietee says:

    It looks like folks get a swipe card now rather than having to lug a boatload of quarters with them to do their laundry. It’s like a metro card, but for a washing machine. I don’t see the problem.

    • belsonc says:

      But but but Z0MG IT ONLY TAKES CREDIT CARDS!!!!!oneonethreeminustwo

      • Marlin says:

        No it does not take CC’s, it takes their special card that you need to add value to.

        I’m guessing the card is not free, extra fees, and the overall price has now gone up.

        • castlecraver says:

          Which you have to add value to…. (wait for it)…… using a credit card.

          • belsonc says:

            Bingo. I have a Hercules laundry system at the complex where I live, but that one only takes cash to recharge the smart card…

            • Jack Doe says:

              I was about to say this. My complex uses a Hercules system with swipe cards, but it also has a card dispenser which takes bills. One time cost for a card, $0.25, everything else remained the same, price wise. They even converted the vending machines in the laundry to take the cards.

          • JJFIII says:

            It does not require a credit card. It requires a VISA, MC or AMEX. Those can be found as prepaid debit cards, ATM debit cards or credit cards. Every person who has access to a laudromat has access to at least one of these items.

          • MsEllenT says:

            Our smart card machine takes debit cards as well, so rather than incurring debt to do our laundry, we’re able to pay right out of our bank account. It’s much easier than scrounging for quarters and takes 30 seconds to load your card. We also didn’t have to buy the card; we return it to the landlord when we move.

        • guspaz says:

          You know what, when I do my laundry, I need two washers and three dryers, and each one costs $2 a pop. So every time I want to do laundry, I need $10 in coins. That’s a lot of coins, and it seems like the only way I can get more rolls of coins for laundry is by visiting a bank during their 10-to-4 business hours, which means taking 20 minutes out of my 30 minute lunch break at work to get coins…

          A rechargeable swipe card for laundry instead of coins? Shut up and take my money. My friend’s apartment building uses the card system, he loves it.

    • Southern says:

      It’s probably safer for the complex in a number of ways, too.. The machines (shouldn’t) be vandalized as much for someone breaking in to steal the quarters, they don’t have to send someone out once a week to COLLECT the quarters, and they don’t have to worry about slugs.

      For those that don’t have a credit card to refill the card though, it’s gotta suck.

    • ganzhimself says:

      If it’s anything like the system that I had the pleasure of using when I was living in off campus apartments, it sucks… You can only add “value” to the card with $5 and higher bills. A wash and dry ended up costing something like $1.75, so you never were able to get the full value back off the card. It was terrible. And to top it off, you had to pay $10 to get a card in the first place… And they did not load that $10 onto the card, you essentially bought the card.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        The school I was in already had these in the late 90’s. It cost $5.00 to buy the card which was not put on the card but the lowest amount you could put on the card was $1.00, so it wasn’t too bad. These were also the days before credit card technology was that sophisticated so you had to reload it using cash and since you couldn’t get a refund on unused funds, the custom was to give the card away to a freshman friend since you just graduated and you were all happy and hopefull for the future. As a side rant, you also had to buy your cap and gown from the campus bookstore otherwise they wouldn’t give you your graduation tickets so that your friends and family could attend (like they didn’t make enough from the new $250 dollar books that you later sold back to them for $18 and they later re-sold for $200 >:(

      • FredKlein says:

        You can only add “value” to the card with $5 and higher bills. A wash and dry ended up costing something like $1.75, so you never were able to get the full value back off the card.

        20 washes/dries = $35
        7 $5 fill-ups = $35

    • DogiiKurugaa says:

      I had to use one of those once when I had to dry a load of clothes because my dryer died. I HATE those things. First of all, I was lucky to have enough money with me to buy the card and add some time. Then since it was a one time occurrence I had to guess how many cycles it would need and I overestimated so I lost about 2 dollars with no way to get a refund. All in all, a horrible idea that is only there to make the laundromats more money.

      • Coalpepper says:

        Actually its not always a bad thing. I used to live in Asbury Park, NJ when it was more than a little crime ridden. The only company that would put a laundry mat there (it was in a former Roy Rogers location), used stored value cards. One machine was in the wall by the attendant, the other in the wall by the dryers, both could be emptied without coming out to the sales floor, protecting the attendant from being robbed. Wasn’t convenient to use these things, but i certainly couldn’t blame them for it.

  2. who? says:

    I went to a laundromat in Vienna that was very similar. It didn’t involve the internet, but I had to buy a card and add value to it, then start the machine by using some panel built into the far wall of the laundromat. The added complication was that the instructions were in German. I had to have another customer explain it all to me. Then I had to explain it to the next tourist who came in while I was finishing up. It was an experience.

  3. RvLeshrac says:

    If you’re too stupid to read a sign and follow simple instructions, don’t fuck it up for those of us who don’t want to have to go to the ATM to withdraw cash, then find a store that will give us quarters.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      This could be solved by having the machine accept quarters or other denominations to load the smart card with value.

    • Weekilter says:

      That was a sweet reply. You win the daily award for most congenial response to a question _anywhere_! You’re a gem.

    • Round-Eye 外人はコンスマリッストが好きです。 says:

      I came here to say this. The instructions on the sign are pretty straightforward, and I actually APPRECIATE being able to reload my laundry card via internet, whether on my iPhone or on my computer at home. Is it a little cumbersome? Maybe a bit, but it’s better than having to lug quarters everywhere.

  4. RvLeshrac says:

    If you’re too stupid to read a sign and follow simple instructions, don’t fuck it up for those of us who don’t want to have to go to the ATM to withdraw cash, then find a store that will give us quarters.

  5. eturowski says:

    I _wish_ my landlady would get with it and install some sort of card reader for our laundry machines… quarters are such a PITA. That would probably give her an excuse to jack up the prices, though.

    The grass is always greener, I suppose.

    • Tunnen says:

      At least you only need to grab quarters, the machine in my complex requires a combination of quarters and loonies ($1 Canadian coin). So even if you had the right amount of quarters, you still might need to run to the store to get them to exchange some of them for loonies, or vice versa.

      Oh, and of course the mint also just changed the loonies composition from bronze coated nickle to brass plated steel, thus altering the weight so that they don’t work in the machines!

      I’m just waiting for the new machines, which I’m sure will include a combination of nickle and dimes added to the mix, perhaps even the obsoleted penny just to go that extra 1.6 kilometers (mile) to annoy me. =P

      • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

        Even worse when you’re stuck with the “new” loonies/toonies which due to their lighter weight no doubt won’t work in those washers/dryers. Fortunately for me, my apartment building uses this type of card system on its washers/dryers. You reload the card by visiting this machine in the lobby and using a debit card to complete the transaction (which you can load with any amount, though $5, $10 and $20 buttons appear on the touchscreen when you request a laundry card reload.)

  6. iblamehistory says:

    Aw, man, I was hoping this wold be a flowchart involving things like “set a damn timer on your phone so you don’t leave your crap in the machine for 6 hours” and “clean the damn lint filter when you are done with the dryer, or call your mom to come do it for you; regardless, find a way to do it.”

    • LanMan04 says:

      When I lived in an appt, I gave people a 1-hour grace period if I found their clothes (washed and wet) in the washer.

      After that hour, your wet crap gets piled on the folding table and my clothes go in.

  7. yaos says:

    Take another gander at the poster, the first two steps are for new customers. Once the card is authorized they use it like any card that carries a monetary value, although they can only add money to their account using a pre-designated physical device or the website. They are using a separate card rather than charging a credit card directly to help prevent fraud (the money can only be used for the laundry machines) and presumably they could add other account payment options in the future to the card for people that don’t use a credit card.

  8. Chasing Headless Chickens says:

    Seriously, adding money to a laundry card is considered more tedious than getting cash, exchanging the cash for quarters, and lugging the five pounds of quarters down to the laundry room?

    Those instructions seem pretty straight forward: Step 1) get card. Step 2) activate card. Step 3) add funds to card. And it looks like that is just to get the card activated. You don’t have to do Steps 1 and 2 every time you do laundry.

    • El_Fez says:

      What, you don’t have a change cup? Something to dump your assorted coins into at the end of the day? I haven’t had to go get change in YEARS!

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        what, you don’t have a roommate who scrounges your change jar for cigarette money and takes everything but the pennies?
        so glad i have my own washer and dryer at home and don’t need to save my change for the laundromat

      • Doubting thomas says:

        You must spend a lot more cash than I do. I have a coin cup, but even assuming that he only does 2 loads of laundry a week at $0.75 to wash and the same to dry, that is $3.00 a week in quarters. I doubt I end up with 12 coins a month being added to that cup, much less 12 quarters a week.

    • Kavatar says:

      Ok, so fine, you’re saying the card method is not as complicated as it seems. That’s fair. But you also make coin operated machines seem MORE complicated than they are. You do know that you can go to your bank and withdraw multiple rolls of quarters at once, right? And unless you’re doing 4-5 loads of laundry at once, you don’t need to take that many quarters with you. Not to mention many laundromats have change machines.

      At any rate, it’s at least humorous how poorly laid out their flow chart is. Step 2A is actually 4 steps, and one of those steps is to “follow simple directions”. Or instead of doing that, you have the option of choosing between two options.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        I can’t withdraw any rolls of anything without paying a fee. I have to go to the ATM, withdraw cash, then go find a store that will change them into quarters – which most stores will not do.

        • Tunnen says:

          Unless you buy something, like a pack of gum just to get them to break the bill. Thus you spend a $1 service charge to get your change, but at least it’s a tasty service charge. =P

    • j2.718ff says:

      You could save time by getting cash in the form of quarters.

      If it takes you five pounds of quarters (that’s approx $100) to do your laundry, then you’d probably save money by buying your own machine.

  9. castlecraver says:

    So we’re cool with landlords forcing tenants to do business with, and trust their credit cards to some third party if they want to use the laundry machines (that they’re probably already paying a premium for having in their building to begin with)? I guess you can always not live there, but if this is “new” and I was stuck in a lease, I’d be a little pissed off.

  10. Blueskylaw says:

    They forgot to mention that each step has 5
    sub-steps with those sub-steps also having sub-sections.

  11. ColoradoShark says:

    Both step 2A and step 3 have 4 inner steps making this at least a total of 9 steps.
    Step 2A #3 tells you to follow simple directions so there must be at least two more directions.

    So, its a minimum of ten steps.

  12. pat_trick says:

    These instructions are for people who are stupid. Trust me, I write signs for people to use computer equipment. People don’t read signs, and when they do, they don’t follow the instructions. These signs are perfect.

    And still won’t get read.

  13. Worstdaysinceyesterday says:

    Who let the intern write these instructions? Scratch that… the intern would have done a better job. This looks more like a just barley computer familiar admin’s work. My only disappointment is that it is not in Comic Sans.

    • Worstdaysinceyesterday says:

      barely. not barley – completely different computing platform.

    • evilrobot says:

      I’m going with “My nephew took a graphic art class in high school. He’ll make it pop.”

  14. oldwiz65 says:

    So if you travel, it’s impossible to simply walk into the laundromat and wash your clothes? sheesh.

    • eturowski says:

      Well, no, in this case, you would be trying to use the laundry room in a private apartment building, which would probably be construed as trespassing.

  15. smarmyjones goes cattywampus says:

    We had this kind of system in college. The card could be used all over campus in the C-Stores and in vending machines too. It was pretty easy to just log on and either put money on the card or have it charged to your U-Bill at the end of the semester.

  16. SerenityDan says:

    Well the sign is badly laid out but the system itself seems like a good idea.

  17. scoopie77 says:

    Back before I had a washer, I went to a Laundromat. When they switched to this card system, it was the greatest thing ever to come from a bad situation. It wasn’t hard at all!

  18. Lyn Torden says:

    So the nice operator on the phone can take my quarters?

  19. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:
  20. LoadStar says:

    There’s just two things wrong with the system that I can see. First, why make you get a code then take it to a value transfer station? Just put the money right onto the card online or over the phone. Secondly, they should have invested in a value transfer station that dispenses cards, instead of making people request one and wait for it to be mailed to them.

    Other than those two things, it is really not that complicated of a system, nor is switching to coinless particularly unusual.

  21. quail says:

    In the early 2000s I saw these systems popping up all over the south & midwest. They wanted you to put value onto a card and to use that at the machine. It kept the laundromat from having to haul quarters out of the machines every night to just throw the right number of them into the change machines. It cuts down on their time and helps to reduce theft (somewhat). Only big problem to this system? It is nearly impossible to use up every bit of money on a card during one normal wash day, and yes they priced it that way for the value of the float & to hope you lose the card that contains any value on it.

  22. jiarby says:

    one comment…
    Another reason to do this versus the quarter method is that the machines no longer are a giant metal piggy bank for crack heads. It probably drastically cuts down on machine buglaries and vandalisms since there is no mor money on site. It makes the machines more profitable for the operator by reducing risk of damage.

    I’d guess THAT was the real reason for the switch.

  23. FLConsumer says:

    WTF…. I can see adding value to a card, but needing to use the phone/internet to do so? C’mon gang, even Unis aren’t this bad about crap like this.

  24. Dyscord says:

    Um…or you could…you know…load your card with money ahead of time and then use your card instead of having to deal with crappy change machines and stuff.

    As for the steps….You get a card, you load it either online or through the phone and then actually add the value to the card….it’s not that difficult. It seems like consumerist is trying a little too hard with this one.

  25. ScottRose says:

    I wish we’d had that in my old apartment complex. They changed over from coins to cards, but the only way to add value to the cards was by using a machine in the rental office. The machine only took cash, and the rental office was only open 9-5 on M-F and 10-1 on Saturday. So you were SOL if you also worked 9-5, M-F and had anything at all to do on Saturday.