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I was informed by my flatmate earlier this term that South West launderettes have had an update. There are new machines, and payment method has now changed; it’s no longer the fairly routine method of spare shrapnel, but instead a more technical card top-up system. The top-up card is free to collect from the Porters’ Lodge and you top up your card online via Paypal or credit or debit card.
As someone who has the luxury of my Mum washing my clothes for me when I go home for work at the weekends (she offers!), this change didn’t seem like a dramatic one for me. Of course I did still pick myself up a top-up card for the inevitable circumstances when I am going to have to do my washing myself. I also learned that the costs of wash and dry loads had risen – which seemed justifiable, given the changes that have taken place.
For the customer, the top-up system has the advantage of not having to scrabble around for change when you need to do a wash. However, there’s the huge flaw that the system works with a minimum of a £10 Paypal top-up. I am skint. I simply don’t have £10 to spend lying dormant on a laundry top-up card that I’ll probably only use three quid of. I have a car to pay for, expenses of living on my own, and on top of all that, I owe 80p in fines to the Library.
I’m going to have to figure out some way of bargaining with my friends to see if we can put washes together or share a card for those occasional washes I’ll need – which frankly, is a complete pain. Or I can make the trip to another college launderette . Pendle, which I’ve heard horror stories about, is closest, but carrying my dirty washing around campus with me wearing my sweats. Sounds like a right laugh. My last option is handwashing entire loads of my dirty stuff, which I’d really rather not do.
What was so wrong with the old system of using spare change? Fair enough, ransacking your room for change can be a little bit annoying, but it’s a lot easier to just keep some 10p’s and 20p’s aside for that eventual dreaded launderette trip. With regards to convenience, digital payment can make life easier – but only if we can set the payment amounts ourselves.
The card top-up system seemed like it was an update that might have had potential – but I personally don’t think the powers that be considered the student customer. How many of us can guarantee we’re always going to have a minimum of a tenner to spend on laundry? I’d rather keep the spare change method – if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.