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Dryer sheets are 10 cents, two for a quarter!
June 20, 2014 4:39 PM   Subscribe

Time for laundry, but wait... my coin jar is empty. Oh, if only there were a place that I could trade bills for those pesky quarters! But now with Washboard.co I can order quarters online—and for only a 50% markup!

That’s right, you can sign up to have one ten-dollar roll of quarters delivered to your address for $14.99 per month. Order in bulk and pay only $26.99 for two ten-dollar rolls of quarters!

Myself, I'm holding out for their "I'll give you two fives for a ten—it'll only cost’ya $15!" plan.

According to Valleywag:
Cofounder Caleb Brown, 27, [said] that he was up until 6AM last night finishing up the site.
"It is a legit business," he said.
"We do have customers.
A few. Very few.
Less than 10."
posted by blueberry (147 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
This sounds like a money laundering scheme.
posted by agentofselection at 4:42 PM on June 20 [115 favorites]


Grant no quarter.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:43 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


...or a laundering money scheme.
posted by jamjam at 4:45 PM on June 20 [24 favorites]


Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the internet... but this one may come close.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:47 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


Between this and Yo I think we're in a mirror world where it's impossible to tell the parody from the serious.
posted by Nelson at 4:47 PM on June 20 [27 favorites]


Up 'til dawn on that site, eh? Nice.

I know everyone's all proud of super thin fonts over full width stock photos on a white background... and the gradient pastel iOS 7 style laundry icons are a nice touch... but this look is so of-the-time, won't won't fall out of fashion so much as be hurled from heaven and into eternal torment by an enraged sky-god from fashion when the time comes.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:52 PM on June 20 [10 favorites]


Hmm, that's given me an idea, Nelson.

An app that sends a single word to your peeps that lets them know you're feeling a tinge of world-weariness and ennui.

Yeah, you know what it's called: "Oy."
posted by notyou at 4:53 PM on June 20 [31 favorites]


Between this and Yo I think we're in a mirror world where it's impossible to tell the parody from the serious.

I'm beginning to suspect it's a glitch in the matrix.
posted by effbot at 4:53 PM on June 20


Cofounder Caleb Brown, 27, [said] that he was up until 6AM last night finishing up the site.
"It is a legit business," he said.
"We do have customers.
A few. Very few.
Less than 10."
Sounds like they're having fun with it. Every in quotes they have a good sense of humor.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:56 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


Who only needs $10 in quarters a month? I need more than that every week. If it supplied more quarters for less markup I might not say no. Getting quarters is a pain the ass. I always feel like I'm inconveniencing someone.
posted by bleep at 4:58 PM on June 20


Bleep, I just go to the bank and get $40 at a time.
Though I have no idea how you're going through $10/week.
posted by flaterik at 5:00 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


As for Yo, that's just a rip off of Guy Hasson's Generation E: The Emoticon Generation from 2010:

The idea came to Fox one night, when he was reading a friend’s tweets. The particular tweet that caught Fox’s attention was comprised only of half words, abbreviations, and emoticons. Suddenly Fox saw a jumble of symbols, and he began to understand words differently. “It was an apple-just-fell-on-my-head moment,” he says. Fox was haunted by the clarity of what emoticons really were: “Emoticons are not words, they’re smaller than words.” Without realizing what he was doing, he walked out of the house, and sat in the street for hours, until, at 4 a.m., it came to him. “The thought that haunted me was: how small could a word be and still be a word?
posted by effbot at 5:02 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Bleach-hots (underwear, whites, linens) wash + dry $2
No bleach hots (dark underwear and socks) $2
Cold delicates $2
Cold regulars $2
Okay, $8/ week if I was diligent last week and each category only needs 1 machine. But still.
posted by bleep at 5:03 PM on June 20


This is not a Valley startup until they're giving $40 in quarters for $4.99 and are in pitch meetings where they crow about their exponential growth and userbase. Facebook buys them for $N Billion dollars.
posted by hellojed at 5:05 PM on June 20 [29 favorites]


I wish they'd partner with the with the two or three panhandlers who regularly come in my store and ask to trade their quarters for bills. Total win win.
posted by thivaia at 5:05 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


Frankly, I'd respect them more if they were selling meth.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:06 PM on June 20 [9 favorites]


I wouldn't make TOO much fun of this...'cuz Internet.
posted by HuronBob at 5:06 PM on June 20


Bleep, I just go to the bank and get $40 at a time.
My bank is open 9-5 Monday to Friday and 9-noon on Saturday. I can't get there between 9 and 5 during the week, because I work. And I don't always want to get there before noon on Saturday. Honestly, I might be willing to pay a small markup to have quarters delivered.

What I do is use the change machine at the laundromat near work, and then take the quarters home and put it in the machine in my building. I feel like a bit of a jerk doing that, though.

I'm moving in August, and for the first time in my adult life I'm going to have my own washer/dryer in my own apartment, with no quarters necessary. I'm pretty sure I'm going to feel like I've finally arrived.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:07 PM on June 20 [7 favorites]


For quarters, if you have a debit card go buy something with it, request $10 cash back, and ask the attendant for a roll of quarters instead of a bill.
posted by hellojed at 5:09 PM on June 20 [13 favorites]


Oh yeah. It is easy to forget how spoiled I am with my flexible schedule. That sucks.

I went from washer dryer having to not the last time I moved. It's about the only thing I truly miss about my warehouse living days.
posted by flaterik at 5:10 PM on June 20


I mean, the markup seems silly, but last I heard, quarters aren't made of helium, so if someone's gonna have to mail them... well, that's about what I'd expect, I guess. There might be other better options, but just offhand, what if you're basically homebound and your building's washers require quarters? I could see there being some way of getting them through the mail being a good thing.
posted by Sequence at 5:11 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


In my experience the few times I've done that they don't keep rolls in their drawers anymore.

The day I get an in-unit washer/dryer I'm going to celebrate with a $100 bottle of champagne.
posted by bleep at 5:11 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


So CoinStar charges a fee to take your quarters and this 'service' charges to give you them. It a like a circle of life.
posted by octothorpe at 5:12 PM on June 20 [24 favorites]


You could find someone on Fivr to run down and get you some quarters, probably.
posted by notyou at 5:13 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


So CoinStar charges a fee to take your quarters and this 'service' charges to give you them. It a like a circle of life.

CoinStar doesn't charge a fee if you convert your coins into Amazon gift certificates, which are basically as good as cash for me up to some reasonable value (since I can't pay my rent with Amazon gift certificates, at least not yet). I think they also don't charge a fee now if you put the money in a PayPal account, but I generally expect to get paid to have to suffer through the pain of using PayPal.
posted by zachlipton at 5:16 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


The day I get an in-unit washer/dryer I'm going to celebrate with a $100 bottle of champagne.

I dare you to dump 400 quarters on the counter when you buy it.
"Won't be needing these anymore!"
posted by Etrigan at 5:17 PM on June 20 [41 favorites]


I was forced to cash some traveler's checks at Victoria Falls a few years back. 40% taxes and fees.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:20 PM on June 20


I'm gonna use Yo app to tell all my friends about this! They'll understand based on context.
posted by crayz at 5:21 PM on June 20 [8 favorites]


The day I get an in-unit washer/dryer I'm going to celebrate with a $100 bottle of champagne.

I dare you to dump 400 quarters on the counter when you buy it.


So you mean, a $150 bottle of champagne?
posted by crayz at 5:22 PM on June 20 [10 favorites]


> For quarters, if you have a debit card go buy something with it, request $10 cash back, and ask the attendant for a roll of quarters instead of a bill.

Heck, just go to the customer service counter of any grocery store or the teller window of any bank and ask if you can buy a roll of quarters. I've never had any difficulties doing this, and it has never involved having to buy merchandise or paying a service fee.

Unless you work in a prison, you can do this on your lunch break.
posted by ardgedee at 5:23 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


I think it's pretty cool that, if you have the right technical skills, you can easily get any crazy business online for less than $100 and a week's worth of work. What's funny is this parody company highlights the two very real areas still difficult and manual for start-ups: regulatory compliance/taxes; and, shipping.
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:27 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


Unless you work in a prison, you can do this on your lunch break.
I don't work at a prison but 1. I don't get a lunch break and 2. I either take the bus or park 2/3 of a mile from work, and either way, there's no way I could get anywhere and back during a reasonable lunch break.

I've had mixed luck asking to buy a roll of quarters at the grocery store. Sometimes they'll do it and sometimes they say that they aren't allowed to.

Seriously: sometimes I feel like I occupy a different planet from most people on Metafilter.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:31 PM on June 20 [23 favorites]


99 cents - for $10 quarters sounds internet fair.
posted by R. Mutt at 5:32 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I'm less contemptuous of this business than I am of anyone who would patronize it.
posted by fatbird at 5:33 PM on June 20


Unless you work in a prison, you can do this on your lunch break.

You don't know what you're talking about.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 5:36 PM on June 20 [46 favorites]


There is a bank literally around the corner from where I work, but I still wouldn't have time to walk there, wait in line, get my quarters, walk back, and then eat lunch in the space of a single timed lunch break. Luckily my breaks aren't timed, but if yours are, you're screwed.

And that assumes it's practical for you to leave the workplace at all during lunch. When I worked at a big-box store that would have been a complete no go.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:42 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


My bank is open 9-5 Monday to Friday and 9-noon on Saturday. I can't get there between 9 and 5 during the week, because I work. And I don't always want to get there before noon on Saturday.

Is there only one bank in your city? You can usually get change at any bank, regardless of your customer status.
posted by nooneyouknow at 5:47 PM on June 20


The last three laundromats I've been at have had change machines that took anything up to a $20. Just go there and get quarters and leave if you don't want to do your laundry there.
posted by desjardins at 5:49 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


This tip may not help most people, but casinos are an excellent source of quarters. Open late and on weekends. Walk in with paper, walk out with a bucket of metal discs.
posted by mhum at 5:49 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Their markup seems to be basically the same as if you just go to the US Mint website and order a roll of quarters. Arbitrage, right!?
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:54 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


I'm less contemptuous of this business than I am of anyone who would patronize it.

I totally get this, but being autistic, not able to cope with banks, and inclined to find the bang-clatter-rattle-clash of automatic change machines pretty much excruciating, I am actually giving this a serious thought (while simultaneously loathing myself, got that part covered).
posted by dorque at 5:56 PM on June 20 [11 favorites]


ArbitraryAndCapricious: " Honestly, I might be willing to pay a small markup to have quarters delivered. "

The US Mint sells bags and rolls of uncirculated coins.

If I recall, FlyersTalk Forums used to use mass-purchasing of coins to rack up Airline miles.
posted by wcfields at 5:56 PM on June 20 [6 favorites]


Do laundromats no longer have change machines?
Or is this disruptor out to break the domination of big-change-machine?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:59 PM on June 20


I will pay anyone here to take my quarters. (Living in a house with a washer, the only way they get used is in vending machines, which I'm seriously addicted to.)
posted by miyabo at 6:06 PM on June 20


I get as desperate for them for parking meters as for laundry. My trick, especially if bank access is a serious hassle: ask for rolls of quarters for holidays and birthdays (no, I'm not kidding!) and stockpile the HECK out of them. They are (as shown above) so often worth soooo much more than their cost... and people kind of think it's hilarious and awesome when they're stumped for gift ideas. Heck, I'd put rolls of quarters on a wedding registry if I ever had one. Or in an office White Elephant thing. My retired dad is, like, SO psyched that he can pick a few rolls up for me in his free time before he visits. I once even had a drinking buddy who would specifically bring rolls of quarters to pay his part of the tab (and I'd always pick up an extra round as thanks, cuz, WOO, BETTER THAN CASH). Get the word out that you love and need them and you shall never be quarterless again.
posted by argonauta at 6:07 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


"How do we make money? Volume."
posted by Sphinx at 6:07 PM on June 20 [13 favorites]


Yeah, I was also gonna say that every laundromat I've seen has a change machine. But if someone really wants to spend excess money thus, hey...

And an aside to Bleep - oh, hon, just get a bottle of Woolite and do your delicates at home in a sink. A good long soak in a sink full of sudsy water is pretty much all you need.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:09 PM on June 20


The laundromat I sometimes need to use has a change machine that takes ones and fives only. Have a ten or twenty? You'll be asking random people for small bills or no laundry for you.

Load of wash is $1.75, dryer is $1 unless if craps out or runs fast and then it's more. Each load is about half of what my home machine holds, so hitting close to $10 for a week's washing is easy.

I've never had trouble asking for quarters at random banks, but grocery stores are about 50/50 or maybe worse. And one time I was desperate for quarters (street parking, important meeting, bad planning) and I gave the deli workers a $2 or $3 tip for letting me jump a line to break a ten, so I understand how paying for convenience is a real thing. But this still sounds more like an art project than a business to me.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:13 PM on June 20


Chapman has a day job as a user interface engineer for Quartzy (no relation) and Brown has "a couple more businesses that are a little more serious seeming. I have a loose leaf tea company."...Brown is also aware that his startup is a few quarters shy of a quarter roll. "I think it would be silly for anyone to give us money for this," he said. "I don't think its silly for a customer to sign up, I think its a great service."

The reality of this story is actually quite a bit different than I guessed it might be. This is just a side hustle / joke for these tech/design-oriented dudes that happens to be presented sort of like a hip young start-up.
posted by clockzero at 6:17 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


hellojed: "For quarters, if you have a debit card go buy something with it, request $10 cash back, and ask the attendant for a roll of quarters instead of a bill."

Different places have different policies about this. The CVS downtown on Boylston would be happy to give me ten rolls of quarters if I asked, but I'm not down there very often. The CVS across the way from me seems to have a shifting policy whereby they will usually agree to give me exactly one dollar less than I ask for, up to five dollars. Took me a while to figure out that game, which I still don't understand the reason for: "can I get $5 in quarters?" "Uh, no, we're only allowed to give $4 at a time." "Fine, whatever."

You know who the absolute best place near me to get quarters is? The convenience store across the street from Boston College. They always have tons of rolls, and giving them out seems to be routine. I guess that's just the nature of their business, being where they are.

Also, change machines are suddenly tediously difficult to find. All four of the laundromats within walking distance of my house now use their own proprietary tokens. Tokens! Presumably because they don't want people like me coming in and getting a load of quarters, so I guess I understand where they're coming from.

I can see not liking this maneuvering, and even disliking it enough to pay a fee for the stupid quarters. Heck, I usually get cash back to get the quarters, and I certainly want to buy something from the convenience store if I ask for a roll of quarters, which means I always buy a $5 bag of chips to get my $10 roll of quarters every time.

So this guy is already cheaper than my current system.

Then again, if I thought it through, I could probably figure a cheaper way. Wait until I actually need something from the convenience store, for instance.
posted by koeselitz at 6:19 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: "Yeah, I was also gonna say that every laundromat I've seen has a change machine. But if someone really wants to spend excess money thus, hey..."

Many do - although, as I noted, a ton in the city seem to use tokens instead if quarters now - but I've never seen an apartment building that had a change machine. I think apartment dwellers are the main people who are impacted by this monthly hunt for quarters.
posted by koeselitz at 6:27 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


If I wanted my laundry disrupted I'd get a cat.
posted by uosuaq at 6:33 PM on June 20 [13 favorites]


Back when I went to the laundromat, I was lucky to have a bar with a big arcade in it. They never gave me any dirty looks when I'd get $10-20 dollars worth of quarters
posted by drezdn at 6:37 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


If you pay 15 bucks for 10 bucks you'll never own a house with a washer and dryer that don't need quarters.
posted by codswallop at 6:38 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


Everyone (that can) should bring a roll of quarters to the next meetup they attend.

Outcome: the quarter-less go home with quarters, the others go home with pleasantly lighter pockets (a ten-spot weighs about 1 gram instead of a half-a-pound roll of quarters), and the bartender never runs out of change.

⌼⌼ Huzzah.
posted by blueberry at 6:39 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


The convenience store across the street from Boston College. They always have tons of rolls, and giving them out seems to be routine.

All the people who work there are super nice.
posted by threeants at 6:41 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Do laundromats no longer have change machines?

The laundry room in my old apartment certainly didn't. And getting quarters from a nearby bank after work was hit and miss (and that was with me lucky enough to have an earlyish shift so I'd get off work while the bank was still open) and honestly there's something, however irrational in principle, that's feels pretty shitty about being turned away at the bank asking for a roll of goddam quarters and about in any case worrying in line about whether it's gonna happen.

I don't think I'd have subscribed to ten bucks of quarters for fifteen bucks, but for a ten for eleven might have been an instant yes at one point.
posted by cortex at 6:42 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


many of the apartment laundromats i've used didn't have change machines and if they did they'd steal your money some of the time and you'd have to convince the people working in the office (if they are the ones who serviced the change machine) that you did actually lose the money. it was also really difficult to get change anywhere in the area right around the apartments because everyone needed coins for the same thing. one of the first steps up in living quality my husband and i gave ourselves was only renting apartments with washer/dryer hookups. this was pretty easy since we didn't live in huge metroplexes with an aggressive rental market, but i can imagine how it'd be different in different places. it's sort of weird to me how a few people are insisting that getting coins can't really be a problem because they've never had a problem with it.
posted by nadawi at 6:52 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


Laundry, parking, and newspapers are really the holy trinity of quarters. Everyone quarter hoarder I know is mixed up with some combination of the three.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:57 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


No laundrymat within walking distance of my house has a change machine. You have to ask the attendants behind the counter to cash out some quarters for you. It's not so much that they care about you using their quarters elsewhere, it's that they'd rather you just drop off your laundry for them to do for you.
posted by elizardbits at 6:57 PM on June 20


We have laundry in the basement though and it's hooked up to those hercules cards which work pretty well.

I can't stop myself from keeping quarters so I have like $50 in change for no fucking reason.
posted by elizardbits at 6:58 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


They should start a side business cleaning and exchanging ass pennies.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:59 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


Laundry, parking, and newspapers are really the holy trinity of quarters. Everyone quarter hoarder I know is mixed up with some combination of the three.

I am looking forward to your noir thriller about the seedy underworld of quarter racketeering and its shocking interconnection with respectable life
posted by clockzero at 7:02 PM on June 20 [11 favorites]


Lets, like, demolish change...
posted by Naberius at 7:04 PM on June 20


My company just got its first round of funding this week after five years of bootstrapping. When we heard about the amount the "yo!" app pulled in for what appeared to be a fraction of the work several of us sat down and designed a competitor.

It's called 'eagle' and will send recipients an emoji middle finger. If I find time this weekend I'm going to code it up.

Who's in?
posted by Alison at 7:11 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


The US Mint sells bags and rolls of uncirculated coins.

"Fresh, straight from the producer to your home! Free of pesticides and strangers' hand-germs, you too can have the piece of mind that comes with knowing where your money came from! Other companies send you dirty money that's probably full of disease and Canadian quarters! A queen? What's up with that? Honest Abe died so that we wouldn't have to rely on some old boot to wash Old Glory! Proudly made in the USA! You love your country, don't you? And hate germs and Canadians, right? Only $17.50 for a roll of forty, plus S & H!"
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:12 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


If it's such a stupid idea, you'll have no problem sending me $100 in quarters for... Let's say $120. Because since washboard was announced, I worked out that I spend $40 in time and mileage to get my laundry quarters for the season.

The amount of time I've spent wearing dirty clothes, sitting in shady laundromats, or hauling laundry to my parents' house, usually with a wallet full of money that can't be turned into clean laundry in my building.
posted by wotsac at 7:17 PM on June 20


Honestly, I don't think this is that terrible of a concept. In fact I actually thought of something very similar myself but thought, rightly I guess, that you'd have to charge too much for it to be worth it.

As someone whose in building laundry machine takes quarters, who uses the bus that takes quarters, and who uses quarters for meters, having enough is always kind of a pain. If there was a way to have more than enough quarters delivered regularly without me having to think about it, I might pay a small premium.

But the premium for these guys is WAY too high.
posted by mosschief at 7:22 PM on June 20


casinos are an excellent source of quarters

I think most casinos have moved to a paper system. Much like pulling the arm down, it's too time consuming. You put in dollars of some amount, you get out a piece of paper you can turn in for cash (if you're lucky).
posted by armacy at 7:23 PM on June 20


I am proudly announcing my new online service Quartr. I will undercut the competition and disrupt their business model with a new paradigm.

For only a modest $14 charge on your credit or debit card, I will contract with the United States Postal Service to send you $10 worth of preprinted paper coupons that can be redeemed for quarters at any store in the United States. These Federal Reserve Notes are are not only practical, they are also beautiful and finely detailed artworks produced by master engravers and printmakers at the United States Mint. These coupons are in limited supply*, so act now!


*Current limited supply estimated: 2 trillion USD
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:24 PM on June 20 [12 favorites]


I assume laundry rooms everywhere will soon be like those in most big NYC buildings and have card readers and dispensers/value adders that take a credit card.

Coins are almost obsolete, yo.
posted by spitbull at 7:26 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


Hint for those complaining about the markup: 1st class mail of a 8 oz package is $2.45. A roll of quarters weighs 8oz.
posted by wotsac at 7:31 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


If your time is worth at least minimum wage, don't do your own laundry, just get Wash & Fold.
(Personal advice from Vice Magazine around ten years ago.)
posted by ovvl at 7:35 PM on June 20


The site reminds me a bit of a plan old friends of mine had in the pre-internet days. They wanted, though never did, to start a business that advertised, "need money? Want security? We can tell you how. Send $2." And they planned to respond,"Get a job."
posted by etaoin at 7:37 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


etaoin: "The site reminds me a bit of a plan old friends of mine had in the pre-internet days. They wanted, though never did, to start a business that advertised, "need money? Want security? We can tell you how. Send $2." And they planned to respond,"Get a job.""

A good chunk of the websites I frequent are basically funded in this way. Slashdot and StackExchange, for example, both seem to make their money from IT recruiting.
posted by pwnguin at 7:51 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


Hint for those complaining about the markup: 1st class mail of a 8 oz package is $2.45. A roll of quarters weighs 8oz.

Another advantage of the Quartr business model! We save on shipping costs and pass the savings on to you! Our coupons are made from durable, high quality paper and weigh only a gram each. We send them in a standard envelope that fits in any mailbox, and even your pocket. They are easy to carry and lightweight, unlike those bulky, heavy rolls of metal coins. Get rid of that useless dead weight of metal tokens and inconvenient storage. Get your laundry coins on demand, when you need them, and start saving today!
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:59 PM on June 20 [6 favorites]


If your time is worth at least minimum wage, don't do your own laundry, just get Wash & Fold.

I don't mind the actual washing and folding, I hate the taking it up and down the stairs.
posted by desjardins at 8:08 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


Man, this time I really gotta get my actual good idea in front of somebody before the bubble bursts.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:24 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I'm sitting here thinking, have those tiny washing machines in Asian apartments took hold in the US yet?

Also, protip for reducing laundry - house pants & house shirts.
posted by saysthis at 8:24 PM on June 20


Oh god, I hate those card readers. They're worse than the hunt for quarters. My first apartment used them. The reader would go down every other week. They were usually prompt about fixing it... on Monday. One time, I was in a dire laundry situation. Started three loads of laundry before finding out I couldn't refill my card to dry the clothes. Ended up sneaking into my old dorm to put twenty dollars on my card because I knew it used the same system.

Let me pay by quarters, phone, debit card. But those card readers are the bane of my existence.
posted by politikitty at 8:25 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


politikitty: “[…T]hose card readers are the bane of my existence.”
Let's not even get into when they decide to charge you multiple times for the same load. Good luck getting a refund. Presuming they even charge you in the same month you do the laundry.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:32 PM on June 20


FWIW the customer service desks at Kroger grocery stores sell rolls of quarters. I'm moving in August as well and looking forward to having my own washer and dryer.
posted by Tesseractive at 8:38 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I googled services like this like 2 months ago, because I always forget to get quarters and I need it for parking (and all the reasons people listed above). I would have been willing to pay a $2-3 mark-up for the convenience, but all of the options I found were ridiculous ($5, like this one, or more). There is a business idea here for someone, but this isn't it.
posted by likeatoaster at 8:49 PM on June 20


FWIW the customer service desks at Kroger grocery stores sell rolls of quarters.

Another advantage of the Quartr system! Why go out of your way to the grocery store just to purchase coins in bulk? Request individualized Quartr coupons which can be shipped right to your home or office, and redeemed anywhere in the Quartr cashier network. Get customized coupons for as few as four coins, or as many as four hundred (extra handling fees may apply). Get just the quantity of coins you need, when you need them, the way you need them. Start saving today!
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:50 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


I totally understand the "quarters are worth at least 30-35 cents each" feeling. Well, at last since before I had my own washer and dryer and before parking meters took parking meter cards. The funny thing is that even though I barely need quarters anymore I still kind of hoard them and I have a jar full of them that's probably worth real money.

(Not to say this "service" isn't stupid and I really hope it's a really high effort joke.)
posted by aspo at 8:54 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


Some of the silliness of this comes from the two day shipping. If they just let me choose a date every two months to get $40 in quarters and ship it ground for $6 they'd probably get close to my laziness/effort threshold and I'd go for it.

I dunno about you other cityfolks, but most grocery store customer service desks will let you buy quarters. If they aren't busy most of them will let me make a small purchase there, an item or two, and get cashback in quarters.

I have never -- and I've tried -- found a checkout line at a grocery store or pharmacy that will give me more than a dollar in quarters.

(YMMV, as I live in a super dense residential area of Chicago that is probably all apartments that don't have in-unit laundry.)
posted by ztdavis at 9:23 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


But while we're here, let me introduce you to Penny Surprise! For a $15/month subscription fee, I'll send you the uncounted loose change + fun bonus items like buttons, broken earrings, stray Ibfrofen, unused coupons, gum paper, business cards from people I will never call, the occasional paperclip and that thing that might have been a breathmint until the pen leaked and receipt and the lipstick stuck to it all straight to you direct from the bottom of my purse. Possible worth something! Fun for the whole family!
posted by thivaia at 9:32 PM on June 20 [12 favorites]


I use the ATM at a local credit union for transactions to an out-of-town CU (long story). But a teller inside same CU wouldn't change my $10 bill or my rolls of pennies for quarters. She may have had a few rolls of coins up her butt tho because I'm sure another teller did it for me previously. And yeah, it's also very iffy whether grocery stores will give qtrs. as your debit change.
(And then there's the snarky Krogers cashier who mocked a grammatical slipup of mine AND acted like I'd asked him to mint the coins himself. Come to think of it, I guess there's just a lot of douchey customer nonservice people in this town.)
posted by NorthernLite at 9:45 PM on June 20


Really - who is in this Quartr network, cheerfully maintaining brick and mortar presence, dealing out heavy, bulky rolls of quarters to all comers without being substantially compensated for their effort? This is real Web 2.0 voodo you're talking about here, Charlie.
posted by wotsac at 9:45 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


ob1quixote: "Man, this time I really gotta get my actual good idea in front of somebody before the bubble bursts."

If the events of the last week have taught us anything, it's that, no really, any dumb old idea will do.
posted by pwnguin at 9:45 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Laundry, parking, and newspapers are really the holy trinity of quarters. Everyone quarter hoarder I know is mixed up with some combination of the three.

I always keep a roll of quarters in my bag for pinball.
posted by action man bow-tie at 10:06 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


I could see there being some way of getting them through the mail being a good thing.

There is a vast supply chain already in existence for moving money around, and it does not involve the Postal Service. It costs extra to mail rolls of quarters because that is a dumb way to move them around.

We should be as appalled at someone charging $15 for a $10 half-roll of quarters as we are at a payday lender charging $150 for a $100 loan; in both cases it's just preying on people who don't have access to the banking system. Nobody who has access to a bank is going to take a deal like that, it's moronic. The business model, to be successful, assumes the existence of an underclass who can't go to banks and ask for a fucking roll of quarters, and those behind it deserve about as much respect as payday lenders.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:06 PM on June 20 [6 favorites]


The CVS across the way from me seems to have a shifting policy whereby they will usually agree to give me exactly one dollar less than I ask for, up to five dollars. Took me a while to figure out that game, which I still don't understand the reason for

I am a sometimes-cashier at a store surrounded by apartment housing and universities. Some of my coworkers* do something like this; as far as I can tell, the purpose is essentially signalling scarcity and inconvenience. I sort of get it. Many customers seem to think we have access to pretty much unlimited change, but don't understand that while the store has a lot of change, for the cashier this isn't true. At least at my store, we have limited opportunities to restock change, and we also can't order extra change to account for people who want large amounts of coins because we have a maximum $ amount that we're allowed to have in the till, which barely allows for a sufficient coin float to make it through the night as it is. Setting a limit tells the customer that if they want larger amounts of change they should go elsewhere, while more-or-less fulfilling what they're actually asking for at the time. One dollar less than you ask for is probably the sweet spot, where it's not so much less that you wanted that you'll get upset and argue with the cashier, but where it lowers your expectations in a way that is beneficial for the cashier long term.

*I'm personally usually cool with people wanting change, but sometimes when people tell me "I'll have twenty dollars in $1 coins" rather than asking me if they can get twenty dollars in $1 coins, I'll tell them I can't give them more than $some_small_amount even if I have plenty of change. There really aren't that many times when we can acceptably refuse some portion of service to people who do a thing that irritates us. Yes, I'm a bad customer-service human.
posted by lwb at 10:10 PM on June 20 [12 favorites]


That's not bad customer service - that's just called having self respect.

Interesting, lwb - thanks for the explanation. That also makes some sense of the way the CVS downtown will give me all the quarters I want - they do a huge amount of business since they're in a prime spot, much more than my local CVS, so I'll bet the high customer turnover means more frequent cash drawer restocking and more cashier access to things like rolls of quarters.

Incidentally, those chiming in to say that grocery stores will give out quarters should not that this isn't always the case. None of the grocery stores near me are willing to, not even the large chains. Like every other place, giving out quarters costs them money, if only incrementally, and particularly in a college-type area in the city I guess it's just not feasible for them. Makes some sense.
posted by koeselitz at 10:21 PM on June 20


The solution, of course, is to go to your local branch of First Citywide Change Bank.

"We are not gonna give you change that you don't want."
posted by Sunburnt at 10:37 PM on June 20


If I recall, FlyersTalk Forums used to use mass-purchasing of coins to rack up Airline miles.

That was when the US Mint would sell you Sacajawea dollar coins at face value and with free shipping. I suppose that was to promote the use of the coins.
posted by zsazsa at 10:55 PM on June 20


But while we're here, let me introduce you to Penny Surprise! For a $15/month subscription fee, I'll send you the uncounted loose change + fun bonus items like buttons, broken earrings, stray Ibfrofen..

Here at the Quartr Headquarters, we are appalled at your offer and don't understand how you could possibly make this a viable business model. How is the savvy consumer supposed to evaluate the value proposition of an indeterminate quantity of goods, of unknown quality? With Quartr, you always know the value of what you purchase. With coupon costs at a fixed multiple of actual value, consumers have the confidence to hold exactly the reserves they need, and set fixed targets for cash flow.

Really - who is in this Quartr network, cheerfully maintaining brick and mortar presence, dealing out heavy, bulky rolls of quarters to all comers without being substantially compensated for their effort?

I appreciate your astute question. At our current pre-IPO operational capacity, Quartr microtransactions represent an infinitesimal proportion of our network's exchange capacity. Some of our network operators are working with only enough cash and currency reserves to deal with daily transactions. As Quartr ramps up, more cash reserves will be required to provide adequate customer service to the influx of customers.

Our company delivers the coupons to consumers identified as members of the Young Influentials demographic, these people are in turn delivered to the vendors, where their demographic can be acquired as new vendor opportunities. We anticipate that as the Quartr economic model expands, and the benefits of being a Quartr network member becomes more apparent, the network sites will want to become a bigger participant through micro-franchisees, driving more revenue through our top line and their own bottom line. Conventional freelance Network operators will be clamoring to pay nearly any price to join the Quartr Premium Network. Our approach provides a needed counterbalance to conventional Wall Street speculation in arbitrage, and puts those benefits with reach of every consumer, every time he does laundry. It also offers a unique proposition to investors. There is still time to invest in the Quartr model and share in the profits as the network grows in strength and power. Interested parties should contact Quartr CFO for a prospectus on investing in our business model.

disclaimer: when purchasing stocks or securities, always remember, past performance is no guarantee of future perfornance. Consult our prospectus for our actual value proposition, in detail.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:52 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


My biggest need for change is parking and getting my tyres inflated. I keep a stock of change in hand by paying for smaller food shopping with paper money, and asking for the change in coins. How do I get paper money? Cashback at the till. The automated checkouts are pretty handy for doing both in one transaction, though you can get funny looks from cashiers if you do both at once. Grocery store staff are much happier doing this when you're buying something than just for change - as an ex-till person, you tend to be worried that someone's trying to scam you* when they do that.

* seriously, people will give you a £10 for change during a busy period. They go as far as the door, look worried, check their wallet, then come back and claim they gave you a £20, and loudly want the money 'you stole' from them. They're banking on them making a scene and holding up the line will get you to fold quickly without thinking it through. Happened to a fellow cashier, and she bluntly told them they were welcome to come back later and sit in the office with the manager and watch them count up the cash drawer to see if she was £10 over. He never came back. And she wasn't £10 over, either.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:36 AM on June 21 [4 favorites]


As pointed out above though, this only applies to larger stores in busy areas; insufficient float will be a problem in smaller stores. And always be nice to your cashier, they are almost certainly having a shittier day than you.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:44 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


It's interesting how our lives and interests can be so similar on one hand and so different on the other. I struggled to remember the last time I saw a quarter let alone used one. Then remembered going out to the car and retrieving one from the change holder. What for? To use as a spacer to level our clothes dryer.
posted by notreally at 3:32 AM on June 21 [2 favorites]


Little bit of metal, hot topic, wow. I call art project, could not find a sign up button.

Pro Tip: Visit a small country to the south that has a peso (aprox a half cent) that is almost identical in shape and weight to the norte americano quarter. 20lbs lasts until most local laundries upgrade their coin boxes.
posted by sammyo at 5:41 AM on June 21


It's interesting how our lives and interests can be so similar on one hand and so different on the other.
I think the point here, though, is that our lives really aren't that similar. We're speaking across a major class divide here. I mean, I still can't wrap my head around the idea that there are people in America who think that anyone who doesn't work in a prison can just bop out to the bank during their lunch break.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:04 AM on June 21


We're speaking across a major class divide here.

Also geographical. In cities like Chicago or New York, middle and even upper-middle class people are often going to be renting an apartment without an in-unit washer/dryer. Anywhere suburban or less dense, that same class status is probably going to get you a house or at least a newer, larger apartment with your own machines. (There's a huge variance in this, including myself, but overall it should be correct more often than not.)

For all that it is easy to lump this community as a bunch of 30-something tech-centered people, reading things that bring out the differences here (including class, age, etc) is absolutely my favorite. You see it most clearly in discussions about food, dining out, work, and living spaces -- the things that compose our most intimate lived experiences.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:50 AM on June 21


I have almost zero use for quarters these days, especially since the city moved to a parking system that accepts cards. I probably have a few hundred dollars worth in a jar waiting for me to figure out what to do with them.
posted by octothorpe at 7:50 AM on June 21


Little bit of metal, hot topic, wow. I call art project, could not find a sign up button.

Choose a plan, and you'll end up in a stripe flow. They don't seem to have any restrictions on where they'll ship the quarters, but I didn't go through the entire flow so maybe that kicks in later.

Pro Tip

Also spelled "gross misdemeanor" in many jurisdictions.
posted by effbot at 7:51 AM on June 21


sorry, we're y'all at that there are no change vending machines in the laundromat?
posted by angrycat at 8:00 AM on June 21


sorry, we're y'all at that there are no change vending machines in the laundromat?
I don't go to a laundromat. I live in a six-unit building, and there's a coin-operated washer and dryer in the basement. There is no way that my landlady is ever going to invest in a change machine.

What I do is go to a laundromat and use their change machine, but like I said, I feel like a bit of a jerk, because they're presumably paying for the change machine, and they're not getting any business from me.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:07 AM on June 21


oh right. i forgot about the laundries in apartment buildings. my bad
posted by angrycat at 8:09 AM on June 21


All this talk of people not having their own washing machine at home feels like a different country to me. Oh wait, it is!
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:14 AM on June 21 [2 favorites]


"Knowing I have $20 worth of quarters in my quarters jar makes throwing in a load of laundry any time I want so much less stressful."

—Cassidy, Pet Care Specialist

posted by KokuRyu at 8:26 AM on June 21


I don't see the class divide here. I have had to lug laundry to the laundromat, and the laundromats always bill changers.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:27 AM on June 21


Dip Flash: In cities like Chicago or New York, middle and even upper-middle class people are often going to be renting an apartment without an in-unit washer/dryer

I get that to an extent this may be a space/square footage issue, but can someone explain why it seems (to someone from the UK) that so few apartments in the US have their own washing machine?

I mean there are plenty of bits of British cities which are as dense/expensive as many US cities, and pretty much everyone living in accommodation which is one small step above a squat upwards has a washing machine, even if it might be creaking and 20 years old. If I went to rent a flat and it didn't have a washing machine, that would be as weird as it not having a fridge. (Or if it was completely unfurnished, not having a dedicated space to put the fridge.)

The only time I had to do that communal laundry-room-in-the-basement thing was when I lived in student halls of residence aged 18; I think the only time I've ever had to go to a launderette was once, about ten years ago, when my washing machine broke down 24 hours before I was due to go on holiday.

A brief look online confirms the strange disparity, but I can't get any information on why, historically, it's evolved.
posted by Len at 10:02 AM on June 21


That was when the US Mint would sell you Sacajawea dollar coins at face value and with free shipping. I suppose that was to promote the use of the coins.

Guy I knew would buy these on his credit card, deposit them right to the bank, and have a short-term interest-free loan by paying off the bill monthly since it didn't count as a cash advance.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:47 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


I rented a fairly large (maybe 1100 sq feet) two bedroom townhouse apartment in the late nineties with a dishwasher and central air but only a coin-op laundry in a communal area. It had a huge pantry too where you could totally have fit a stacking washer/drier. On the other hand, it was only $425 a month so I couldn't really complain that much.
posted by octothorpe at 10:52 AM on June 21


Personally, my building is from the 20s. That's why. It doesn't have the plumbing hookups for it. Maybe it's because many of the buildings in these cities are really old, and even in new buildings they know they can save a few bucks by skipping the hookup installation because people don't expect it. That's my guess.

There really is a market need for quarters or laundry among yuppie white people who rent in dense cities. According to my ethnographic observations over the past 8 years they don't go to laundromats. There's a laundromat near me across the street from a cutesy restaurant-cafe. Sometimes I go in there for a lemonade while my laundry is washing. 100% different demographic.
posted by bleep at 11:01 AM on June 21


Octothorpe: So what is the reason why you didn't put a washer or even a washer and drier there? Because for me, that would be a no-brainer. So there must be something I'm unaware of.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:03 AM on June 21


Too-Ticky, because it didn't have water hookups or drain for the washer or a 220v electric line for the drier.
posted by octothorpe at 11:10 AM on June 21


Also my understanding was that the UK was superior to the US because they didn't have wasteful wasteful dryers and they hung everything out on a line where it was freshened by clean air and angel farts. Now I'm to believe that they're superior because their apartments do have dryers and ours don't?
posted by bleep at 11:17 AM on June 21


bleep:
Personally, my building is from the 20s. That's why. It doesn't have the plumbing hookups for it. Maybe it's because many of the buildings in these cities are really old, and even in new buildings they know they can save a few bucks by skipping the hookup installation because people don't expect it. That's my guess.


None of the places I lived in when I lived in Glasgow - 7 of them over the course of 16 years - was built after 1890; the oldest was built in 1864. Every single one of them - whether originally built as a flat, or one floor of a converted townhouse - had a washing machine.

And there are plenty of flats in other cities which are much older, yet somehow still manage to have washing machines; Edinburgh's New Town was laid out in the 18th century, and mostly completed by 1820; I suspect the last time a property there was sold sans washing machine was probably about 1950.
posted by Len at 11:18 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


Well all I know is that's the excuse I was given.
posted by bleep at 11:22 AM on June 21


Oh, I totally understand, bleep. The usual "we can't do it because the building can't handle it" excuse is one that property owners often fall back on.

I'm wondering if it's maybe some weird building code/regulations thing regarding plumbing. Also, it just occurred to me: domestic US A/C runs at 110v versus the 220/240v we have, whereas I presume basement laundry rooms can get access to higher voltages?
posted by Len at 11:27 AM on June 21


In my experience, many rentals in the US still have the same wiring and plumbing from when they were built and the landlord has never bothered to update them. You can't really run a dryer on knob-and-tube wiring.
posted by octothorpe at 11:29 AM on June 21


Also my understanding was that the UK was superior to the US because they didn't have wasteful wasteful dryers and they hung everything out on a line where it was freshened by clean air and angel farts. Now I'm to believe that they're superior because their apartments do have dryers and ours don't?

Just pretend that we're superior at everything and then you wouldn't keep having this crisis.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 12:05 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


To be fair the only thing I know about US laundry is when Penny wanders down to the basement to wash her pants and has a chat about something mundane with Sheldon or the one who looks like a Hobbit in Big Bang Theory.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 12:30 PM on June 21


I dunno. My building was built in the late '70s, and there's no washer-dryer hookup in the individual apartments. (I'm also not in a high-density area of a big city. I'm on the outskirts of a smallish Midwestern city, right next to a trailer park.) I think it has more to do with expectations in the US, and maybe with the fact that our washers and dryers tend to be bigger and less energy-efficient than European ones, and they might overload a building's electrical system if everyone ran one at the same time.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:46 PM on June 21


I always keep a roll of quarters in my bag for pinball.

There I was, reading through this thread feeling confused about things that are straightforward in the UK and difficult in the US (finding an ATM that won't charge to take your money out, having to go out to do laundry if you live in an apartment, not having automated tills at groceries with coin hoppers to empty your coins in, having a most valuable coin in common circulation worth a tenth of the value of a £2 coin, etc), but then I saw you still have pinball machines in the wild!!!!

So jealous! (I'm also jealous of plenty of other things in the US, for what it's worth).
posted by ambrosen at 3:30 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


It's kind of a dick move to use the change machine in a laundromat if you're not using the machines there. My method is to empty my pockets daily and segregate all the quarters for laundry. All the other change goes in a big jar for an annual coinstar run.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:42 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


My invention is an ATM card reader that swaps as a replacement into standard coin tray units on laundromat machines, that either runs the machine or gives you quarters. If you have more than one they all coordinate and batch charges across machines per card per day so the customer sees a single charge on their statement and the laundromat saves on transaction fees. The units are free of course, the low monthly lease and teensy fees are where we'll get you.
posted by bigbigdog at 5:44 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


Even better bibigdog, what about an ATM that dispenses rolls of quarters? You could sell them to landlords who would be happy for one more thing to make a profit on, and any existing laws for defacing ATMs or ATM-based crime would still apply and deter tampering.
posted by bleep at 6:00 PM on June 21


My method is to empty my pockets daily and segregate all the quarters for laundry.
I've tried this, and it doesn't work. I don't spend cash that often, and I would frequently find myself with no clean underwear and no quarters to do laundry. I need seven quarters to do a single load of laundry, and it's a rare week when I buy enough stuff with cash to net seven quarters.
Even better bibigdog, what about an ATM that dispenses rolls of quarters? You could sell them to landlords who would be happy for one more thing to make a profit on
First of all, I'm not sure how this would be better than Washboard, since presumably they'd have to charge a fairly hefty premium to make it worth their while. But I also think that fancy stuff like ATMs are not going to happen in small buildings with independent landlords like the one I live in.

Honestly, we're probably more likely to get credit-card-operated laundry machines, and that's a long shot. Plus, it would be a big problem for people who don't have credit or debit cards.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:22 AM on June 22


That's why these devices swap easily in to replace the existing coin mechanism on standard laundromat machines. You don't have to put in new ATMs, and they either run the machine or dispense quarters for the other machines. It allows incremental adoption for smaller installations like apartment buildings, or wholesale adoption at busy metropolitan laundromats.

Also I bet it makes it easier for the mob to take their skim (bagmen no longer lugging actual sacks of quarters), and there's definitely opportunities for money laundering and other electronic payment related shenanigans in the daily roll up.

These things are the porn of the laundromat industry, is what I'm saying. They're going to be everywhere.
posted by bigbigdog at 11:57 AM on June 22


I just went to the laundromat today (well, first I went to the ATM to get cash, since I rarely carry any) and then got $20 worth of quarters at the laundromat. Started the laundry, wandered over to the vending machines... which has a credit card swiper. I'm 90% sure my dorm laundry facilities had swipers that were tied into the same card we used in the cafeteria. And this was in the late 1990s. In a small town. So there's no reason it can't be done.

For people who don't have credit or debit cards, they can buy a prepaid card at a grocery store, or laundromats themselves could sell a temporary card (however, that wouldn't have the same fungibility). It's no less convenient than what happens now.

I need seven quarters to do a single load of laundry

Wash and dry? If so, that's really cheap. Mine today was $2 to wash and $1.25 for 40 minutes of drying. There's one closer to my house and cheaper ($2.75/load) but the one I went to is huge and has wifi and tv. I was sorely tempted by their wash & fold service ($1.25/lb) but I have more time than money right now.
posted by desjardins at 12:25 PM on June 22


(Apologies if I'm the only one who cares about my idea, but I may have now put more thought into it over doing the dishes than was crapped out into the business that is the subject of the post, and I may as well type it here as forget it by tomorrow.)

Rather than create a distribution and manufacturing network and needing to compete head-on with whoever already thinks they own the laundry machine coin box business, and because I could give a shit about becoming a billionaire off the gambling-addicted financial industry, you do it maker.

Work up a set of plans that can be executed by anybody with a machine shop and a soldering iron. Start with cities that have had port closures. There's going to be a lot of talented, skilled, people out of work, and equipment sitting idle. Set up workshops, form collectives. Build them and sell them locally, regionally.

Make it plug-compatible with existing coin boxes and use those single-computer-on-a-chip-with-wifi-and-everything to run the transactions. Run the absolute most paranoid open source OS distribution you can get and make all the code open, signed, auditable, etc.

There will need to be resources to assist with PCI compliance. If there isn't already a foundation that provides this, found one. Open source projects need to be able to integrated into the modern financial system like anything else, and it's rigged now against smaller players.
posted by bigbigdog at 12:42 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]




Not enough volume, that was their problem. You have to start big to get big. That's just Internet Business 101.
posted by Etrigan at 3:10 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


can someone explain why it seems (to someone from the UK) that so few apartments in the US have their own washing machine?

I think it's because of clothes dryers. To most Americans, a washer without a dryer is just an ugly piece of furniture. Very, very few people air-dry clothes. In apartment buildings, even fewer. Partly because, in most apartment buildings, hanging laundry on patios where it can be seen from other units is absolutely prohibited, which means you'd have to hang it in your bathroom to dry... it's just a thing not done. (Yes, yes, there are exceptions, some people feel very strongly about air-drying clothes and do it all the time and are very zealous about it, but it's not common in the same way that it is in other parts of the world.)

And to run an electric or gas dryer, you need either a big power hookup (220 instead of the normal 110 volts, and much higher amperage) or a gas line, and then you need to have a vent line to the outside, and that vent line is a frequent source of fire hazards so you don't want it to be too long, and it has to be periodically cleaned...

Anyway, it all conspires to be easier for landlords to just put a bunch of washers and dryers down in the basement, where they can be easily vented to the outside and are close to the utility mains, than to try and put one in each unit. And if people will still rent the units, why the hell not?

I think this is slowly changing though. In places where it's not a total sellers market for rental properties (i.e. not NYC or SF, where you can charge $1200/mo for a refrigerator box and be picky about applicants), compact stacking washer/dryer units are becoming common. There are even some of those European condensing dryers showing up, in places where running a vent line from a dryer is impractical (people don't like them, though, because they leave clothes damp compared to a hot-air dryer). Heck, in my area places frequently advertise not only that they have in-unit W/D setups, but that they're full-size rather than apartment size. But that's what you get for being out in the 'burbs and not downtown.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:43 PM on June 27


The washboard.co website has been scrubbed of it's stock photos, and replaced with this page of text:
"Hey there!

About a year ago I had a conversation with my good friend Shaun about the idea for Washboard. We both wanted the service from a customer standpoint and decided we should give it a go. Shaun put together a fantastic design and then we just sat on the idea for another 11 months or so. On June 19th 2014 I decided I was just going to launch it and see what happened. Thanks to the amazing website Product Hunt we quickly picked up a ton of media coverage which I'll link to below.

Nearly 100% of the internet thought Washboard was an absolutely absurd concept. I had a very difficult time convincing people the service was even real but we did have customers that were excited for it. I apologize to those folks but we have decided to shut down Washboard. While I am sad to see it go so quickly, I'm excited to be focusing my energy on something ultimately more worthwhile.

Despite Washboard being completely legal, Washboard violated our payment processor's terms of service. They graciously gave us 14 days to find someone else. Sadly, most payment processors had the same terms of service. I looked into payment processors that would accept us and even found a few (with shockingly decent rates!) but the truth is it would have taken significant time and energy to switch processors. While I do believe Washboard solved a real problem for real people, I didn't think there was really an opportunity to grow Washboard beyond quarter delivery.

...

Shaun and I had a blast working on Washboard and hearing your reactions good and bad...and they were mostly bad :) Thanks!"
posted by blueberry at 10:14 PM on June 28


> I looked into payment processors that would accept us and even found a few (with shockingly decent rates!) but the truth is it would have taken significant time and energy to switch processors.

How much time and energy would that be? If they thought they had a viable business model -- that is, a concept that could generate enough revenue to self-sustain as a business -- they ought to have been able to afford the cost of re-implementing to a new API, or been willing to eat the short-term expense for future gain. Their saying this sounds like an admission that they had a lazy scam going and gave up because it became work.
posted by ardgedee at 5:06 AM on June 29 [2 favorites]


Well that's SV "startup culture" for you. If it can't grow exponentially and make you filthy, fuck-you rich, well, it's just not worth doing.

Also it was a dumb idea and more and more apartment laundry machines are moving to smartcards anyway, because coin acceptors are maintenance-intensive and get jammed up all the time. Maybe someone from the laundry business clued them in. The reason many laundry facilities have one bill acceptor to load money onto smartcards and then smartcard acceptors on the machines isn't (solely) to screw you via residual value on the cards when you lose them, it's because every fewer bill/coin acceptor is one less thing that needs to be constantly maintained.

This is in some ways crappy for the user, though, because it means that the machines may not get maintained as aggressively.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:39 AM on June 30


Also, was I the only one amused that a company reselling cash at a 50% markup was admitting to shopping for optimal payment processor rates?

This gives me a great business idea: A payment processor agent, who researches the best payment processor for dotcoms, all for a mere $100k up front and a small percentage of each sale.
posted by ardgedee at 7:46 AM on June 30


I need seven quarters to do a single load of laundry

I just remembered that dollar coins aren't really a thing in the USA, which would make the quarters issue more acute.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 3:52 PM on July 6 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the coin situation here in the US is nuts. The smallest denomination permissible in this day and age needs to be the quarter. For coins, it needs to be:

$.25
$.50
$1.00
$2.00

I mean, I looked - absolutely nothing in the checkout aisle of the discount joblot is less than a buck, except a cheap plastic pen with the name of a website that went bust a few years ago, which was two for a quarter. Candy, gum, nail clippers, batteries, little squishy ball thing that lights up when you huck it at something... all more than a dollar. I can't even remember the last time I saw a 10¢ candy bin. Time for the penny, nickel and dime to get retired or redenominated.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:36 AM on July 7


Time for the penny, nickel and dime to get retired or redenominated.

You'd have to round off all the sales taxes in the country first.
posted by Etrigan at 6:20 AM on July 7


sevenyearlurk: "I just remembered that dollar coins aren't really a thing in the USA, which would make the quarters issue more acute."

We do have dollar coins. I'm pretty sure that I saw one last year, or maybe it was the year before that.

But I've never seen a vending machine that takes one.
posted by octothorpe at 6:32 AM on July 7 [1 favorite]


I think MetroCard vending machines in NYC take them? They certainly give them as change, at least the ones in the LIRR section.
posted by elizardbits at 8:20 AM on July 7


I was happy to learn my local coin-op car wash takes dollar coins and gives them in its change machine, since it meant I could use the ones that'd been sitting unused in the ashtray. OTOH, it means they probably charge more since most of the prices were in increments of $1.
posted by asperity at 10:54 AM on July 7


Oh, and USPS machines dispense dollar coins routinely, they're the most common place to pick the things up throughout the US.
posted by asperity at 10:55 AM on July 7


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