Out of Order Washing Machines in Residential Dorms Put Students in a Spin

Since this photo was taken on Mar. 1, four washers are still out of order, and one stacked machine was removed. Photo by Sydnee Valdez

It’s rare to walk into one of Chapman’s laundry rooms and see all the machines in working order. Recently, the problem has gotten much worse. Miscommunication between WASH, the company Chapman leases its machines from, and the residence staff have made it difficult to get the machines repaired, according to Director of Residence Life and First Year Experience Dave Sundby.

“My staff is hounding WASH. That’s a major laundry hub and people got to have clean clothes,” Sundby said.

On Feb. 18, seven out of the eleven washing machines in Henley Basement were out of order. As of March 19, four are still dysfunctional and one stackable washer/dryer combo was disconnected and removed from the laundry room.

“Hey, do you guys mind making sure no one uses this machine? I’ll be right back,” freshman Henley Hall resident Kate Cheong told Prowl reporters as she retrieved her clothes.

The public relations and advertising major had made a lucky score:  It’s not uncommon for all the machines to be in use but Cheong claimed the last available working washing machine in the Henley Basement.

“The broken washing machines affect my wash schedule so much,” Cheong said.

Student staff walk through the laundry rooms twice a week to check on broken machines.

The university’s lease with WASH is in its fourth year of a five-year contract, Sundby said. The reporters failed to ask if the university would dump WASH and opt for another washing machine vendor.

“Our vendor left his role at WASH in the end of January, and we weren’t notified. So our reports about the washers were going nowhere. When we contacted WASH they told us that they were in the process of assigning us someone else,” Sundby said. “The other piece to own is that our previous administrative assistant left in January and she was largely responsible for that relationship with WASH.”

The reason the vendor left WASH is unknown, but that loss combined with the loss of Chapman’s WASH liaison was a leading factor as to why the machines have been down for so long, according to Sundby.

“Our contract is an equipment lease for five years. When the five years are up we can negotiate to have the machines replaced if we stay with WASH,” he said.

Students can report broken machines to Residence Life by calling the university’s Laundry Line located on flyers that are posted on walls of the laundry room. This service, however, proves futile for some students.

“Whenever I call them, they never pick up,” Cheong said.

Even when a WASH representative does pick up, problems may go unsolved.

“One broke down on me in the middle of my wash. I called the phone number on the wall, and they told me to unplug it, but (my clothes were) still wet,” said freshman communications major Jessica Kim.

When the Pralle-Sodaro Hall resident opened the door, water flooded out of the machine.

If the Laundry Line is nonresponsive, students can contact WASH directly by calling 800.342.5932 or filing an online service request. All that is required is the six digit machine ID and its location, according to WASH.

“If you ever have a problem with a machine, we typically can have a trained service technician out within 24 – 48 business hours or less,” WASH’s website states.

The still-broken machines appear to be proof that machines were not repaired within the time frame WASH sets for itself. A WASH representative could not be reached for comment by deadline.

An “out of order” machine in the Henley Basement. Photo by Sydnee Valdez

Prowl called the company to inquire whether machines would be repaired within that time frame as well, but a customer service rep said that he was unable to answer. Prowl was directed to the service manager but was sent to voicemail. The service manager did not respond by deadline.

Students can also report issues with their laundry machines via WASH’s mobile app, FixLaundry.

“The FixLaundry app allows WASH customers to request laundry machine service by simply using the camera on their smartphone to scan the barcode on the machine,” according to a WASH Laundry press release.

However, some students don’t know that an app exists or don’t see reporting the machines as their responsibility.

“I wouldn’t use the app because I would be too lazy to report it. The resident advisor on duty should check the washing machines every hour, and they should report it,” Glass Hall resident and sophomore communications major Felipe Correa said.

Amir Ghani Sydnee Valdez

Leave a Reply