The Advancement of Laundry Technology

From my apartment complex's 2005 Summer News Letter --

Another exciting change is in all the laundry rooms. New Front Load Washing Machines and Dryers with 'Smart Card' technology (no more quarters) will be installed. Each tenant will be issued a card that will activate the machine. In each of the main laundry rooms and at the office there will be a card refill center. You will be able to insert whatever dollar amount you want and it will add value to your card.

During installation a representative from the Laundry company will be at each of those locations to teach everyone how to use the card. The price will remain the same.

Two Questions --

1. How is my quality of life going to be improved by a front loading washing machine?

2. Please suggest any benefits (or penalties) that accrue to anyone from the introduction of the (presumably specific) smart cards other than a reduced requirement to empty the coin vaults of the previous machines.


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Front-loading washers cause

Front-loading washers cause less rubbing wear on your clothes, increasing the time you will be able to wear them before holes develop in unfortunate locations. Cards reduce the necessity of carrying handfuls of quarters in your pockets, again reducing wear on your clothes, and in some cases obviating the need for a belt.

Front-loaders require less

Front-loaders require less water and detergent for the same amount of clean. The reduction in detergent will directly impact your budget (for directions on the proper amount of detergent to use, try posing a question to the admin at, the reduction in water should impact the apartment rental cost (though it may not be noticeable).

The smart card eliminates the need to carry cash, either on your person or in the machines. Laundromats and their patrons are notable targets for vandals, thieves, and muggers.

Having to maintain an

Having to maintain an inventory of quarters includes both a time cost (trips to the bank) and financial cost (lost interest on an unnecessarily bloated cash reserve).

Okay, the second might be puny but the first most definitely isn't.

It turns out that if a

It turns out that if a washing machine is full of quarters and you, in a fit of rage, try to cram more in anyway it jams up and is really difficult to fix.

My previous apartment

My previous apartment complex went from quarters to cards a while ago. The primary benefit to me, the consumer, was that I could add money to the card in the apartment office instead of having to go to a bank during business hours to get quarters. (My apartment had no freaking change machine.)

On the downside, it took them just about forever to upgrade the machines to read the then-new colorful $20s.

At my current apartment, I sidestepped the whole issue; my unit has hookups and I bought the cheapest washer/dryer pair from Sears.

Front-loading washers

Front-loading washers actually do a better job washing your clothes because, by constantly rolling, they don't need a central "agitator" to do the job. The benefit of the "smart-card" is primarily to the owners or the machines. They get your money in advance, when you "load" the card. You don't get the value you paid for until you use the card. And any money on your card you don't use immediately means your prepaying for a service you may not use for a while.

1. You will no longer have

1. You will no longer have to lift heavy wet clothing once cleaning is complete. Just scoop it outward. Great for 93 year old, 80 pound women doing their own laundry.

2. Bills are easier to come by than gobs of quarters. Few laundromats, and virtually none owned by apartments, have change machines. I, for example, would no longer have to make a trip to the car wash every six weeks to replenish my quarter stockpile. On the downside, cards make price increases less viscerally noticeable.

Pretty well covered

Pretty well covered so....

Downside of the cards - they will be watching your every laundry move. They will know who does six loads at a time. They will know who was using the machine when it broke down. It is a trick to catch the bad laundry people.

Card machines not only

Card machines not only prevent jamming of the washers, but also prevent theft. When I lived in Chicago, I had the worst of both worlds--annoying plastic tokens that needed to be purchased at the central office a 1/2 mile trek away, and also frequently broke and/or jammed the machines, causing you to lose your investment in worthless pieces of orange plastic.

These kind of new business

These kind of new business ideas semms to be irrelevant, but I think that we may think about this company's strategy for the future.

A smartcard have two benefits (for both the consumers AND the company):
- the company is able to build a customer relationship, because the machine is able to (or will be able to) identify the consumer's habits. Does he go to the laundry twice a week, once in a month? What kind of clothes has he? Then, the company could see if the specific offer of a laundry fits the needs of each consumer.
- the company will be able to build a new range of services, as the smartcard have a memory capacity, and, for some kind of smartcards, processing capacity.

I think that it could be a very good innovation, even if I know that there is some kind of Big Brother concepts behind this.

Chitah, the pro-busniess anarcho-capitalist