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June 20th 2014 10:47 am

A startup will sell you quarters for your laundry

Washboard.co is a startup that will sell you $10 worth of quarters for $14.99 (or $20 in quarters for $26.99) for the purposes of doing your laundry. The idea being that it's incredibly hard and/or inconvenient to get quarters for laundry machines, despite the fact that you're already taking your clothes to a laundromat and washing and drying and folding your laundry yourself. You are basically paying what is essentially a 50% convenience fee to not have to go to the bank.

Snags with their plan:
  1. Some laundromats have change machines
  2. Other laundromats or launderettes have attendants who will make change for you
  3. Some laundromats take credit cards (yes, I know, shocking)
  4. Many laundry services offer same-day service
  5. Many banks don't actually have long lines for the tellers
That last one was the point that stuck with me—I haven't seen more than a handful in line at the bank in a long time. I have seen longer lines for the ATM, actually, and one time I was waiting I looked inside and saw the bank was completely empty, and one teller was leaning out of her window looking at us with a "WTF" look on her face.

So all that said, even if there's a small group of people who might find this useful, I don't see this company succeeding. What's next? "We'll go to the ATM and get cash for you!" No wait, I've said too much, now someone's going to make this happen. Humanity is doomed.


(Photo by Quinn Dombrowski)

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8 replies

Oh, man. With apologies to @joelhamill, but I consider myself one of the people who are mocking this company. Yes, it's a rude thing to do and I probably shouldn't.

But a service. To deliver quarters. My mind, I can't even, what.

Okay, I can maybe maybe see this is useful for people who do laundry. Granted, this is a projection bias, but I know when I did laundry at a laundromat, it was never a spontaneous thing -- like I knew I was going to do laundry tomorrow, so I made sure I had quarters before hand.

The one scenario that I maybe possibly almost think would come in handy would be for parking. That is something that happens a lot more random and it's like, "ah crap! We need to feed the meter and of course there's no change in our car!"
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I could easily see these guys being bought by a bank and incorporated into some kind of at-home banking service.
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I don't understand why everyone is mocking this company. So they are charging $5 to ship quarters to people. They are trying to provide a service to a portion of people that don't want to deal with converting money. I think that is a valid service for some people.
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As I said in my post, I don't doubt there are people who find it useful, just that there aren't going to be enough of them to create a sustainable business model. This is tailored toward a very specific, very limited group of people:

People for whom:
  1. Their laundromat will not make change
  2. A bank is too far away or inexplicably has long lines in the age of the ATM
  3. Laundry service is too expensive
But also:
  1. Who can receive packages of quarters at their house/apartment
  2. And have regular internet access and actually prefer to do their business online
The reason people are making fun of them is because in short, it feels like the solution to a problem that doesn't really exist. Or rather, is easily solvable without forking over $5 a month.
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Hey Kris, I'm Caleb Brown, Co-founder of Washboard. You're certainly not wrong! Washboard is indeed niche. That being said, the target market actually isn't folks that go to the laundromat at all. The last 5 apartments I've had have had a coin-op washer/dryer on-site but! no coin machine. I want to do my own laundry but I don't want to go to the bank. Washboard is the solution for folks like myself and my co-founder. It certainly isn't for everyone!
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I'm sure there are a good amount of people who would pay $5 in a convenience fee to avoid having to deal with a hassle that you don't understand. But, that's the deal, we all rate companies on our needs and opinions and don't see the or believe that we know the needs and opinions of other people.
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I have now said twice that there are probably people who will find this useful. TWICE.
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Apologizes. For some reason I'm in a super defensive mode about this today even though it is something that I wouldn't use but, something I completely understand the reason for using.
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