frustrated laundry

The Laundry List

Lily sheds light on the little discussed issue of university laundry service providers, and discusses how students are taking action to protect their time and funds against these monopolies.

Cover Image Source: Pixababy

It’s a funny thing, laundry. No matter how much you hate washing, folding, and putting away your clothes, it has to be done (usually once a week). Whether or not you knew how to do laundry when you first arrived at uni as a fresher, everyone must eventually learn how to work a washing machine, because laundry is an inevitable component of independent living. However, students at St Andrews, both new and old, recognize the unique faults with the hall laundry service providers: Circuit and Washstation. Students continue to raise issues related to cost, customer service, and functionality of the companies. These complications are not only problematic in their nature, but also in the obstacles that students face as a result of these complications.

Laundry machine
Source: Pixababy

Neve Kinahan, a second-year student living in Agnes Blackadder Hall, speaks out about the high cost of laundry on campus and the burden it puts on her spending.

“The laundry situation is a major flaw in my enjoyment [of halls]… I cannot treat myself, and I must ensure that I budget down to the penny if I wish to eat each week. A major blight to my funds is laundry. It is an essential part of a functioning adult’s life. Yet, the need for basic cleanliness comes at an odious cost. If I want to attend class, there’s a cost.”

drying laundry
Source: Pixababy

For those who don’t live in the university residence halls, or for those who do and still haven’t done laundry for the semester, here is a refresher on the intricate process you go through just to finish a load of laundry. First, you need to obtain a laundry card from your hall. This card needs to be loaded with money from your computer, which will then give you a code to enter into the Pinmate machine in your hall’s laundry room. The topped-up card can then be used to start the washer, which costs £2.30 to run, and the dryer, which costs £1.10 to run. For low-income students, and just students in general, nearly £4 is a lot to pay per load for the quality of the wash that the machines provide, and top-ups on laundry cards can only be made in multiples of £5, which makes it nearly impossible to use up the credit that has already been paid.

Ferida McKeogh is a first-year student at St. Andrews. He is championing the movement to hold these laundry service providers accountable, and he has a petition.

https://www.change.org/p/malcolm-brook-managing-director-at-circuit-laundry-circuit-and-washstation-laundry-improve-your-service?recruiter=89847687&recruited_by_id=19d1a11c-e442-4e71-be76-40230b5f2ab4&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=petition_dashboard&fbclid=IwAR1Q1amx-jg-ib6AE0N3m0KKL5HVbjYnCr5GdAh4PqkbXvWhqpAOcQ6AEQE

The petition addresses the laundry providers directly by listing the student’s grievances, starting with the limited top-up option and ending with the juxtaposition between the cost of the service and the quality of the product. At the end, there is a demand for a timely response to these complaints. McKeogh’s petition, with a goal of 500 signatures, includes comments from other disgruntled students. It is clear from their statements, and his own, that this issue is something students are fired up about.

“Circuit and Washstation hold a monopoly over the student laundry market, but their penchant for nickel-and-diming students already burdened with debt will end here…Across the UK, students are being forced to use poorly designed, frustrating websites and cards only for their laundry to be either dirty, shrunken or still wet”, said McKeogh about the situation.

The increasing enthusiasm for the movement is grabbing the attention of student leaders and university officials alike. President of Students Association, Jamie Rodney, has been working on this issue for the past couple of weeks.

“While the situation is better at St. Andrews than elsewhere, there is a whole laundry-list (no pun intended) of issues with the service Circuit and Washstation provide,” Rodney said when communicating with the Stand about this issue. “The Students’ Association will hopefully decide on a plan of action to address the issue within the next week.”

washing machines
Source: Pixababy

Rodney urges anyone who is interested in tackling this issue, or anyone with questions or concerns to email him at [email protected]

The solutions to this problem can range from simple to more extreme. One student, Lewis O’Neill, proposes the possibility of introducing a system where students can buy multiple washes at the same time for a discounted rate. McKeogh’s end goal is more specific. He states in a quote to the Stand,

“We want to put an end to this starting with a removal of the proprietary card system in favor of cash or contactless, and ending with more reasonable, affordable pricing.”

Whether or not you live in the halls, laundry is an issue we can rally behind as a student community. Students at St Andrews should not have to worry about the high cost of washing. Once we decide to tackle this issue together, regardless of proximity to the problem, our whole community will be better.

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